If you notice black-and-blue marks cropping up after workouts, your weight-training routine could be to blame. Although bruising is not a necessary part of exercise, there are several ways to cause these spots as you get physical. If you do bruise, heal the telltale mark faster with some TLC: MayoClinic.com recommends treating the affected area with an ice pack at intervals throughout the day, resting and elevating the region and treating any pain with over-the-counter meds.
Blood Vessel Bursts
Bruising occurs when blood leaks under your skin. When you strain to lift heavy weights, you may cause small tears in your blood vessels, which naturally leads to some spillage. According to Columbia University's "Go Ask Alice" column, weight lifters and serious athletes often bruise during workouts. Women are more prone to bruises than men, and you may also notice that you bruise more easily as you get older. However, using lighter weight or less resistance should help prevent this type of bruising.
Some bruises are more serious than a few broken blood vessels. If bruising is accompanied by pain and swelling, and you have a hard time moving the muscle, you may have lifted your way to a muscle strain. Strains happen when the muscle tears from overstretching -- don't worry, it's not as scary as it sounds. Your muscle should repair itself with rest, according to MedlinePlus, but don't hit the weights again until the pain is completely gone. To avoid strains, warm up with light cardio for at least five minutes before lifting, and stretch after your warm-up to improve flexibility.
Bumping into objects can cause minor injuries beneath the skin, bursting blood vessels. So that bruise on your thigh may have come from the impact of a barbell when you plopped it onto your lap, or from a brief collision with a weight machine. If you've been focusing intensively on your training, such accidents could occur without your knowledge. If you tend to hit certain areas of your body when you work out, consider wearing thick clothing for protection, or try other types of padding.
When to Get Help
Sometimes a bruise spells more serious trouble. If the area is especially large or painful, or if you are suddenly bruising more easily than usual, MayoClinic.com says it's time to see a doctor. The same holds true if you spot blood in your mouth, nose, urine or stool, or if you get a persistent headache along with the bruise. You should also see your physician if you're new to exercise and just starting a workout program.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.