Beginning a new workout routine can be exhilarating. You feel like you are doing something healthy for your body. Unfortunately, if you haven’t worked out in a while, you may feel sore afterward. That soreness can not only interfere with your daily activities but it can also make you feel hesitant about continuing with your workout plans. Understanding muscle soreness and how to cope with it is vital to helping you stick with your workout routine to lose weight and get healthy.
First, it’s important to recognize that experiencing some muscle soreness after any type of strenuous physical activity, especially if you’re new to it, is completely normal. This is because muscles experience a tremendous amount of stress during exercise. Mild soreness is simply a natural result of physical activity. This is most common at the beginning of any type of workout or fitness program.
What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?
The gradually increasing soreness or discomfort you experience after a workout is known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. This discomfort typically appears within 24 to 48 hours following physical activity. Whenever muscle tissue is stressed beyond what it is accustomed to, soreness is the result.
This typically occurs when a muscle performs a lengthening contraction. Small, nearly microscopic tears take place in the muscle fibers. It is believed that this type of damage combined with the inflammation associated with those tears is what causes the pain most people experience following a new workout.
Keep in mind that while soreness after beginning a new workout routine is normal, any aches and pains you experience should be minor. This is an indication that your muscles are simply adapting to your new regimen. Over time, your muscles will become stronger and better capable of performing your workout.
For someone who is deconditioned and has not worked out in a while, this soreness can be somewhat intimidating. One of the biggest problems is that many people who are not fit attempt to start out doing too much.
They begin a new program or join a new class and they’re not told that they’ll likely get sore. Since they’re not familiar with it, they may even be concerned they have injured themselves. Making the situation even worse, they will not want to continue.
It’s important to be aware that such soreness is normal as well as understand how to work through it without becoming discouraged. The good news is that there are things you can do to help alleviate muscle pain following a workout. Remedies such as anti-inflammatory medication, ice, rest, massage, stretching, and applying heat can all be beneficial in the recovery process.
How to Prevent and Relieve Muscle Soreness
Stretching, in particular, is often highly underrated in terms of preventing and soothing muscle soreness. Most people simply do not stretch enough. Stretching is essential to easing soreness and preventing muscle spasms. In fact, stretching both before and after a workout is vital to limbering up and lengthening your muscles.
Another important step is to take the time for a cool-down period after your workout. Just before finishing, include about 10 minutes of easy activity, such as walking or jogging, followed by stretching.
Be aware that there is nothing wrong with taking it easy for a few days while your body goes through the adaption process, but that doesn’t mean stop all activity. Try engaging in some light activity, such as swimming or walking.
The key is to keep your muscles in motion. Your performance will not be at peak levels for the next several days, so go ahead and plan for a few days of easy activity to prevent any additional muscle damage while also reducing the chance of injury.
Heat therapy can also be beneficial for easing muscle soreness. Warm temperatures work to increase blood flow to the muscles. Try soaking in a hot bath. To make your bath even more soothing, add some Epsom salts.
Magnesium, which is the main component of Epsom salts, is vital for healthy muscles and works as a gentle and natural muscle relaxer. When the salts are added to a warm bath, they can then be absorbed by your skin. Applying heat directly to the area where you are experiencing pain can also help to soothe soreness.
Taking the opposite route of a cold shower just after your workout. Taking an ice bath has also been shown to help reduce muscle soreness.
Taking Omega-3s can also help to reduce soreness as well as the inflammation associated with post-workout stress. Try taking one fish oil pill per day or getting a dose of Omega-3s naturally through certain foods, such as nuts, spinach, and salmon.
Nutrition is also critical following a workout. Make sure you are giving your body the fuel it needs to properly recover. Proper amounts of protein and carbohydrates are vital for muscle repair. Try snacking on some quinoa with lean chicken or having a protein smoothie after your workout.
It’s also important to stay hydrated. Muscle cells require water, so dehydration can be detrimental to the recovery process. While working out drink water every 15 minutes to stay hydrated. After your workout, drink at least 20 ounces of water for every hour that you worked out.
If your soreness following a workout is particularly bad, consider treating yourself to a sports massage. A sports massage can help to increase circulation while also breaking up knots that might cause soreness in problem areas.
Never stop abruptly while exercising, as this can result in muscle damage. Instead, try to keep moving steadily to ensure fresh blood is directed to your muscles.