Why Muscles Get Sore

What is muscle soreness?

As people age, they begin to complain more of pains in their muscles and joints. They seem to stiffen up with age, and such commonplace activities as bending over for the morning paper can make them wince.

Chiropractor, Acupuncture, Physical Therapy

Chicago InHealth Center, Chiropractor, Acupuncture, Physical Therapy, Active Release Technique, Graston Technique

Such pain can grip so fiercely that they are sure it begins deep in their bones. But the real cause of stiffness and soreness lies not in the joints or bones, according to research at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, but in the muscles and connective tissues that move the joints, so these may need treatment and using the best hospital beds in our InHealth Center, could be the best choice for these treatments.

The frictional resistance generated by the two rubbing surfaces of bones in the joints is negligible, even in joints damaged by arthritis.

Flexibility is the medical term used to describe the range of a joint’s motion from full movement in one direction to full movement in the other. The greater the range of movement, the more flexible the joint.

If you bend forward at the hips and touch your toes with your fingertips, you have good flexibility, or range of motion of the hip joints. But can you bend over easily with a minimal expenditure of energy and force? The exertion required to flex a joint is just as important as its range of possible motion.

Different factors limit the flexibility and ease of movement in different joints and muscles. In the elbow and knee, the bony structure itself sets a definite limit. In other joints, such as the ankle, hip, and back, the soft tissue—muscle and connective tissue—limit the motion range.

The problem of inflexible joints and muscles is similar to the difficulty of opening and closing a gate because of a rarely used and rusty hinge that has become balky.

Hence, if people do not regularly move their muscles and joints through their full ranges of motion, they lose some of their potential. That is why when these people will try to move a joint after a long period of inactivity, they feel pain, and that discourages further use

What happens next is that the muscles become shortened with prolonged disuse and produces spasms and cramps that can be irritating and extremely painful. The immobilization of muscles, as researchers have demonstrated with laboratory animals, brings about biochemical changes in the tissue.

Triggers For Muscle Soreness

1. Too much exercise

Have you always believed on the saying, “No pain, no gain?” If you do, then, it is not so surprising if you have already experienced sore muscles.

The problem with most people is that they exercise too much thinking that it is the fastest and the surest way to lose weight. Until they ache, they tend to ignore their muscles and connective tissue, even though they are what quite literally holds the body together.

2. Aging and inactivity

Connective tissue binds muscle to bone by tendons, binds bone to bone by ligaments, and covers and unites muscles with sheaths called fasciae. With age, the tendons, ligaments, and fasciae become less extensible. The tendons, with their densely packed fibers, are the most difficult to stretch. The easiest are the fasciae. But if they are not stretched to improve joint mobility, the fasciae shorten, placing undue pressure on the nerve pathways in the muscle fasciae. Many aches and pains are the result of nerve impulses traveling along these pressured pathways.

3. Immobility

Sore muscles or muscle pain can be excruciating, owing to the body’s reaction to a cramp or ache. In this reaction, called the splinting reflex, the body automatically immobilizes a sore muscle by making it contract. Thus, a sore muscle can set off a vicious cycle pain.

First, an unused muscle becomes sore from exercise or being held in an unusual position. The body then responds with the splinting reflex, shortening the connective tissue around the muscle. This cause more pain, and eventually the whole area is aching. One of the most common sites for this problem is the lower back.

4. Spasm theory

In the physiology laboratory at the University of Southern California, some people have set out to learn more about this cycle of pain.

Using some device, they measured electrical activity in the muscles. The researchers knew that normal, well-relaxed muscles produce no electrical activity, whereas, muscles that are not fully relaxed show considerable activity.

In one experiment, the researchers measured these electrical signals in the muscles of persons with athletic injuries, first with the muscle immobilized, and then, after the muscle had been stretched.

In almost every case, exercises that stretched or lengthened the muscle diminished electrical activity and relieved pain, either totally or partially.

These experiments led to the “spasm theory,” an explanation of the development and persistence of muscle pain in the absence of any obvious cause, such as traumatic injury.

According to this theory, a muscle that is overworked or used in a strange position becomes fatigued and as a result, sore muscles.

Hence, it is extremely important to know the limitations and capacity of the muscles in order to avoid sore muscles. This goes to show that there is no truth in the saying, “No pain, no gain.” What matters most is on how people stay fit by exercising regularly at a normal range than once rarely but on a rigid routine.

What You Can Do

If you think you suffer from spam theory or muscle pain due to over activity contact our office at 312-949-1289 and schedule a free consultation with one of our doctors.  Our doctors are certified in advanced techniques to quickly find permanent relief from this condition. Chicago InHealth Center

Published by Graham Pommerehn, DC.

Cross Training for Fitness and Fat Loss

Fat Vs. Weight

The numbers on your scale do not indicate whether you are fit or fat. Far more significant than your total body weight is the composition of your body tissue. If a man’s fatty tissue is bigger than 14% up to 15% of his body mass, or if a woman’s is more than 20% to 22%, he or she is overweight, or more precisely, overfat.

A small amount of fat is needed for padding the internal organs and as insulation under the skin. Excess fat leads to such diseases as diabetes, gout, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and gallbladder problems. There are very few, very fat persons. The reason is that the fittest, not the fattest survive.

The problem now is focused on how to resolve the problem. The problem with most people who want to lose weight is that they have the propensity to concentrate more on getting those numbers lower than what they are seeing now. What happens next is that they strive harder to achieve a lower weight, according to the “ever reliable” result of the weighing scale.

It would be more important to think of the human body as a heat-exchange engine that works on the basic principles of energy physics. The caloric balance equals the total calorie intake minus the total calorie expenditure.

Some of the calories people ingest are used for basal metabolism. As people get old, their bodies require fewer calories for this basic upkeep. Some calories are excreted as waste products. Some go into “work metabolism,” the energy expenditure required for any physical activity.

Hence, if people take in more calories than are used by these functions, there is a definite caloric excess. By the laws of physics, energy is transformed rather than destroyed. In this case, each excess of 3,500 calories is changed into a pound of fat. If people want to reverse this process, they have to burn up 3,500 calories to lose a single pound.

Winning the War Against Fat

When you think of fighting fat with exercise, you probably think of hours of hard, sweaty exertion. If this is the case, then, you will not get any farther. This is because people who are so much into losing more by exerting more effort tend to get bored easily.

Why? Because experts contend that when people exert more effort than what they are capable of doing creates a tendency to develop weariness and ennui. Hence, they give up, stop doing their routine exercises, and end up sulking in the corner with a bag of chips that seems to have all the bad calories in this world.

Now, you might ask, “What should be done instead?” The answer: cross training.

After some intensive studies and experimentations, health experts were able to come up with the concept of incorporating cross training in order to overcome or break the monotony or dullness in an exercise program.

Cross training refers to the integration of diverse movements or activities into a person’s conventional exercise routine. The main purpose of incorporating cross training into an exercise program is to avoid overdoing excess muscle damages and to put a stop to an imminent boredom.

Three of the most commonly used activities whenever a person decides to engage into cross training are swimming, running, and cycling.

In cross training, distance is one way to extend your activity as your condition improves. For this reason, you need to traverse a measured distance.

If possible, swim the course and measure the distance. If you will be using a running track, such courses usually are a quarter-mile per lap for a complete circuit.

Cross training offers a variety of benefits for fitness and fatloss. It builds up the strength and endurance of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. It has also some tranquilizing effect on the nerves, and it burns up calories as much as it makes your “losing weight” more bearable.

Cross training has three basic components:

1. Endurance exercises to condition the heart, lungs, and blood vessels and to induce relaxation. These begin with a careful planned walking and jogging regimen, depending on fitness level.

2. Exercises to strengthen the muscles, particularly those important to good posture. These include some activities that are selected to encourage some people who are already burnt out with a particular routine.

3. Exercises to improve joint mobility and prevent or relieve aches and pains. These consist of a series of static stretching positions that are safe and effective for most of the people who wish to try to lose some fat.

Indeed, cross training is a great way to modify the concept of exercising and losing fat without having to endure monotonous activities. In fact, the idea of exercising is to like what you are doing, hence, if you engage into cross training, you will be aware of it that you have already achieve your desired weight.

Boiled down, cross training is, certainly, one way of having fun.

Make Your Indoor Running Safe with these Treadmill Running Tips

A treadmill is a great way to get your running in during the cold winter days. Before you hop on your treadmill and get running, here are five tips to help you get the most out of your running experience.

1. Wear good running shoes. Many people assume that because you are running inside on a platform that the quality of your shoes is not as important. You may be tempted to throw on any pair of shoes and run on the treadmill. This is not a good idea and it is how you will develop an injury. Treadmill running surfaces are hard and they don’t give as other surfaces do.

2. When you run inside, your running form is going to be more restricted, as opposed to running outside. This is why you want to have a good pair of running shoes. Find out what your foot type is and purchase shoes accordingly. Your treadmill performance will be more pleasant and you won’t come out injured.

3. Try to place your treadmill in a good location. It can be boring running on a treadmill which is stuck in the basement or out in the garage. See if you can strategically place your treadmill where you can see outside or even watch TV. Natural light will help you focus more on your running as well. The light will make you feel more alert and motivated to run for longer. Watching your favorite show or listening to music while running is a great way to pass the time. Studies have shown that people work out harder and for longer time periods when listening to music.

4. Increase the incline on your treadmill. When you run on a flat treadmill, if can feel as though you are running downhill. This can be very hard on your muscles and joints. By increasing the incline to level two, it simulates a more natural running position. This is much better for you body and provides you with the energy to run longer and harder.

5.  Let your arms swing. Many runners find themselves leaning forward to grab the bars when running. Unfortunately what this does is reduce your workout efforts and makes you run using bad form. This can cause injury and bad habits when you go out onto the road. Always stand upright and tilt your body forwards at a slight angle. Make sure you keep your arms bent at the elbows and have your hands relaxed.

Running on a treadmill has very specific and powerful benefits. Follow these five tips and your treadmill running experience is sure to be everything you want it to be. You’ll lose weight, get in shape and enjoy the convenience of treadmill running anytime of the year.

Exercise for Knee Pain Relief

Did you know that almost 50 million Americans experience some form of knee pain each and every day? Your knees bear the weight of your body in every activity you do, from simply walking around to climbing up the stairs. The amount of weight that your knee joints bear is almost four times the amount of your total body weight. So it makes sense that your knees are the most commonly injured joint in your body.

The good thing is that even if the joint is damaged you can still do something about the knee pain. Sometimes by just exercising the muscles which surround your knee joints you can significantly reduce the knee pain to manageable levels.

The primary muscles around the knee include:

  • Quadriceps – this is the muscle in the front of your thigh
  • Hamstrings – your back thigh muscles
  • Abductor – your outside thigh muscle
  • Abductor – your inside thigh muscle
  • Popliteal- behind the knee
  • Gastrocnemius- behind the knee

These muscles act as a complex sling that works along with a network of ligaments and tendons to stabilize and leverage the knee during activity. By strengthening all of these muscles you will be making this sling stronger and will be making the knee less susceptible to injuries.

Why is exercise important for joint pain?

Below is a list of common yet effective exercises to help you start building strength. The exercises are listed in order of increasing difficulty with the first set requiring less balance and stability. If your knee is moderately or severely painful begin with the easier open chain (feet not touching any surface) exercises then progress as able to more difficult exercises. It is also highly recommended that you do these exercises under the guidance of your chiropractor if you are beginning with the closed chain exercises.

Recommended Knee Stretches

Chair Knee Extension – you want to sit in a chair and rest your foot on another chair so that your knee is at a slightly raised level. Then push your raised knee towards the floor by using your leg muscles. Hold this position for 10 seconds and release. Repeat up to 5 times per leg.

Heel Slide Extension – for this exercise you want to lie on your back with one of your knees bent so that your foot is flat on the floor. You want to slowly slide your heel away from your body until both legs are parallel. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then return your leg to the starting position. Repeat 5 times with each leg.

Quad stretch – Stand holding the back of a chair or stand next to a wall for balance. Bend one knee so your foot comes near your buttock. With the same side hand reach down and grip your foot and try to pull your heal towards your glute until you feel a stretch in your front thigh. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat 2-3 times

Hamstring Stretch – this is done in a standing position. Place one foot in front of you with your toes pointing straight. Use a chair for balance and bend the opposite knee and hip slightly forward until you feel your hamstrings stretch. Make sure you are only bending forward from your hips. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 5 times with each leg.

Recommended Strength Training Exercises

As well as stretching your muscles it is important to strengthen them too. Perform the following exercises and only do as much as you can without causing your knees undo pain.

Bent Leg Raises – (open chain) this is done while sitting in a chair with one leg straightened out in the air, do not lock your knee. Hold this position for up to one minute, if possible. Then bend your knee and lower your leg halfway to the floor level. Hold in this position for 30 seconds and then return to the starting position. Attempt to work up to doing at least 4 reps per leg.

Straight Leg Raises – (open chain) again do this sitting in a chair while resting one foot on another chair. Lift your foot off the chair a few inches while keeping your leg straight. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then return to the resting position. Your goal should be to repeat this at least 5 times and to be able to hold your leg up for 2 minutes.

Abductor Raise – (open chain) to do this exercise you want to lie on your side propped up on one elbow. Bend the leg that is directly on the floor for support. Work on lifting your top leg and holding it for 5 seconds before lowering it. Aim for 1 – 3 sets with 12 reps for each set. As this becomes easier you can use ankle weights for increased resistance.

Hamstring Curls – (open chain) you want to use a solid surface for support with this exercise. You can stand with your thighs directly against a table or with your hands on a table for support. Lift your lower leg behind you until it is at a 90 degree angle, only go as far as you are comfortable with at first. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then lower slowly. If possible lift the leg again before your toes hit the floor. Aim to do 1 – 3 sets with 12 reps in each set. If you have to touch the floor in between reps at first that is fine. When this becomes easier use ankle weights to increase the intensity.

Wall Slide – (closed chain) use an exercise ball placed in the small of your back. You want to be in a sitting position with the ball between you and the wall. Slowly slide down the wall and then straighten up again by rolling the ball slowly. If you keep your feet and legs parallel this will be easier to do and ensure that your knees do not point outwards over your toes. Work up to a point where you can comfortably repeat this 5 – 10 times.

Step Ups – (closed chain) use a stair on low bench about 8 to 10 inches in height. Simply step up onto the stair or bench straighten your knee without letting it lock and then step down again. Try to do this at a steady pace and when comfortable use your arms to add extra intensity. Try to maintain this for at least one minute and then work up from there.

Biking – (closed chain) using a stationary bike is an excellent way to strengthen your knee and your range of motion. Most chiropractors recommend this as their number one method of reducing knee pain. Start with 5 minutes of cycling per day and then increase this amount every few days.

You do not have to use all the exercise above. A good starting point is to choose 2 or 3 exercises from each group and concentrate on doing those. When your knee feels better you can add in another exercise. If possible, try biking every day as it is not only good for strength but offers great cardiovascular benefits as well. .

If you find you cannot do many reps that’s okay. Start with a few each time, but try to do them two or three times over the course of the day. Stretching will really help your knee joint feel less stiff and will help to reduce the amount of aches and pains you experience.

At first it may also be a good idea to ice your knee after exercising for 10 minutes. Use a bag of ice or even a pack of frozen vegetables over your knee area. It helps to place the ice pack in between a towel so that your skin does not burn from the ice. It may also help to place your leg on a chair while icing it. You may also consult a foot doctor for additional guidance.


About the Author:  Dr. Graham Pommerehn is a board certified chiropractic physician with a degree in exercise physiology and special training in sports rehabilitation, myofascial release techniques, and strength and conditioning. He has spent extensive time treating athletes in all ranges of disciplines; with additional experience working in spinal cord injury, and cardiopulmonary rehab. In his decade of working with a wide range of athletes, he has gained extensive knowledge accelerated healing and sports injury recover.

Understanding Knee Pain

Living with chronic knee pain can be frustration. Even more frustrating is not understanding why your experiencing the pain. Here we attempt to explain several different types of knee pain and what you can expect as far as healing time and treatment option. 

What Type of Knee Pain Do You Have?

Did you know that one in four people suffer from some type of knee pain, and knee pain is one of the most common complaints that doctors see today. When you think about it, this is not that surprising, just think about how much work your knees do for you all day. They support your entire body weight and help you walk around all day long. Your knees are one of the most used joints in your body. You bend lots of times each day and walk up and down stairs numerous times adding to everyday wear and tear. There are several causes of knee pain that can result in minor aches and pains to those that require surgery. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.

Osteoarthritis of the knee is one of the most common causes of knee pain in people with over 16 million people suffering from this condition worldwide. The majority of sufferers range from adult athletes to people in their fifties. These numbers are not surprising as arthritis is a condition resulting from wear and tear of your knee cartilage. Your cartilage is the lining surrounding the articular surface of the joint. As this becomes thinner the area becomes inflamed and irritated resulting in knee pain.


Runner’s knee is another common condition which can cause swelling, pain and stiffness. As this condition progresses, you may find everyday tasks like bending, squatting, going up and down stairs painful. The pain you will experience will be under and around your kneecap. This type of condition appears gradually and is not exclusive to people who run. In fact many office workers and sedentary people develop this condition as well. If you have Runner’s knee you will find that your knee becomes painful when you sit for long periods of time. This is because fluid from inflammation builds up in the joint while resting. 


Sprains/ Strains and Tears of the knee as a result of repetitive stress or twisting your leg in a strange position may result in pain/ strain of the surrounding ligaments and tendons. These can usually recover in about 4-6 weeks with proper rest and ice compression for the first 72-hrs. If the strain is bad enough, you may require physical rehab to reduce scar tissue development and re-strengthen the area. If your knee is locked in place and became stuck for a few seconds, this may indicate a meniscal tear or loose piece of cartilage in the knee and should be examined by a medical professional.

Any type of accident can cause a tear in your cartilage or your meniscus. You have two menisci in each knee joint. These structures are rubbery and sit just above your shin bone or tibia, one sits on the inside and the other on the outside, with the inside meniscus being the larger of the two. The purpose of these structures is to provide extra cushion for the knees and provide tracking during bending and movement.  Depending on where you tear your meniscus, it can sometimes be healed with proper rest, and by performing strength training exercises with appropriate care from your chiropractor. Be patient with these injuries as it can take several months for a meniscus tear to heal completely.  Knee pain that gets steadily worse over time, or doesn’t improve with therapy may require an MRI to determine any further issues. Sometimes surgery is required to repair a tear.

Some Common Knee Pain Symptoms May Include

  • Swelling
  • Painful clicking/ locking
  • Pain for more than 3 days
  • Weakness or instability
  • Redness or warm to the touch


So How to deal with knee pain?

First thing is to identify the cause of your knee pain. If it is something that has developed over time you may be dealing with either of the three conditions mentioned above.Weight Loss has proven to be an effective way to reduce strain on the knees. Studies show that every pound of excess weight exerts about 4 pounds of extra pressure on the knees. So a person who is 10 pounds overweight has 40 pounds of extra pressure on his/or her knees; if a person is 100 pounds overweight, that is 400 pounds of extra pressure on the knees.

Living with knee pain can be difficult, and if you have arthritis exercising regularly with light impact activity may help the condition. When your knee is sore and painful try elevating your knee and using an ice pack to help reduce any swelling.  Additionally, emerging research has shown that vibration therapy and far-infrared therapy on arthritic joints helps to reduce chronic pain and slow the progression of cartilage resorption in the joint. This may actually prove to be a promising type of new knee pain treatment.  If you get knee pain running or when walking then using a knee brace and switching to non-weight bearing activity such as bike riding or swimming can often be a good solution.

Often times the cause of knee pain isn’t directly from the knee at all.  Since the knee is surrounded by two very mobile joints (the ankle, and hip) it’s not uncommon to experience pain in the knees due to flat feet or high arches, or poor muscle control of the hips. This is something that should be considered if your knee pain has been examined and shows nothing wrong. Sometimes orthotics for the feet or targeted glute strengthening exercises can help.


When In Doubt Keep It Safe!!!

If you experience any type of knee pain or discomfort that suddenly appears and doesn’t get better, you should visit your medical doctor or chiropractor for appropriate medical advice.


Our Services

Dr. Iris Zhao
D.C., M.S.O.M., L.Ac.

Dr. Graham Pommerehn

Active Release Techniques
Proud Partner IRONMAN
Graston Technique Provider
McKenzie Method
Great service and great people.  I’ve had chronic back problems over the last 20 years and have been to a number of loop area places and Chicago Whole Health is definitely the standout.  On my first visit it was clear that their interests truly lie in resolving the issue rather than ensuring a larger number of visits (they showed me how to effectively self treat to the extent possible).  While I went there only for lower back issues, they offer a pretty expansive line of services.  I highly recommend this place to anyone.
The doctors here are wonderful. Dr Pommerehn helped me find ways to take care of my back after it had left me immobilized and unable to go to work.
Let me first start by saying that I was totally against any type of chiropractic care until I hurt my back earlier this year.  After some nudging from a coworker, I decided it was time to get help.  I searched for a Chiropractor in my area and the Chicago Whole Health Center came up.  I called immediately and spoke with Dr. Graham Pommerehn aka “Dr. Feel Good”!  I was truly surprised and overjoyed that I felt so much better after my first visit!  “Dr. Feel Good” worked his magic on me and did it with the best bedside manner I have ever experienced.  He is patient, gentle, funny and kind. I…
I had broken my tailbone a few years ago and recently was having more pain around it. I thought surgery may be my only option, but decided to try chiropractic care for the injury and I’m so glad I found this place! Dr. Pommerehn is amazing! He was very upfront and honest during our initial exam and thoroughly explained every part of the treatment plan. Given the extent of my I injury we weren’t sure treatment would help, but his patience and treatment paid off! After a few weeks of intense treatment (three times a week) I have been able to manage the pain of this injury. I no longer have r…
This is a great place.  Dr. Pommerehn was so good. I had lots of problems with my shoulder, which we tried therapy on to fix.  He explained everything in detail, and finally when my shoulder did not get completely better, he sent me for an MRI, which showed a tear.  He said I would might need surgery. No one could believe that a Chiropractor was helping me so much – I really appreciated the work that he did with me, and the honesty with which he treated me. I will definitely use this place again.
I have had some medical issues that I have not been able to resolve for the past few years. Having tried Western medicine and holistic methods, I decided to try out acupuncture. I was not sure where to find a good acupuncturist (other than Chinatown). I really wanted someone I could communicate my problems to and who could communicate with me so that I could understand everything. Dr. Zhao was the answer to my problems. She speaks English and some Mandarin! I had told Dr. Zhao that it was my first time to acupuncture and told her my problems.  She explained everything thoroughly to me a…