Many years ago I decided that I needed to start exercising again. Early one summer morning I pulled on my running shoes and hit the road walking. 10 minutes later, I thought I would increase the workout and started running.
The next day my calves were so sore I could hardly walk! I was in agony!
Muscle soreness has been known to cause many new exercisers to discontinue exercising. And if I didn’t know any better I would probably have given up. My muscle soreness was due to my stupidity and could have been avoided.
And, no, not by not exercising!
Some seasoned exercisers will experience muscle soreness “the day after” a different type of exercise or workout. They feel muscles they never knew existed!
What is muscle soreness?
It’s usually caused by an overload workout. It is the small tearing of muscle fibers, which cause the release of muscle cell content. The cell content attracts inflammatory cells, which release chemicals, that irritate nerve fibers and cause pain.
But “No Pain No Gain” right?
Wrong! Soreness is NOT an indicator of a good workout. Muscle damage is often greatest in older or otherwise susceptible muscle fibers.
How do you ease the soreness?
Here are 8 ways:
1 – Massage Away The Soreness – Start slowly! Lightly massage the sore muscle and gradually increase the depth of the massage. It might be painful in the beginning but it will gradually ease the muscle soreness.
2 – Hot Bath The Muscle Soreness Away – Nothing beats a long soak in a hot bath for muscle soreness. The heat will increase circulation and provide a soothing effect.
3 – Flush The Soreness Away – Run hot (as hot as you can bear) water over the sore muscles for two minutes and then immediately switch to cold water for 30 seconds. Repeat this process five times. This has the effect of opening and closing your blood vessels which will flush the acid from your muscles and ease the soreness. It is easier to take a complete shower and do this, but it takes some courage!
4 – Gently Exercise The Soreness Away – Go for a slow walk and breathe deeply. This helps reduce the muscle soreness by increasing the blood flow to the sore muscles.
Now you know how to relieve your muscle soreness, I’ll show you how to avoid the pain. It is easier and less painful to avoid muscle soreness. Here’s how:
5 – Warm Up Before Your Work Out – Muscles are working parts and like any working parts they need to be warmed up before any demands are made on them. A warm up before your workout is essential to avoid soreness, but more importantly to avoid injury. It starts the circulation to the muscles and warms the muscles and tendons, getting them ready for the next muscle soreness avoidance tip – stretching.
6 – Stretch Those Muscles – After your warm up your muscles need to be stretched. It’s very easy to skip this step or do some hasty stretches, but you will pay for it the next day or with an injury. If you are going for a walk or jog you want to stretch your legs and back. If you are doing an upper body workout then you need to stretch your shoulders, neck and upper back. Don’t bounce in the stretch and hold it for 15 to 20 seconds. Stretch each muscle just to where you begin to feel the stretch then maintain that position until you feel the muscle let go. Bouncing or trying to stretch too far will do more harm than good.
7 – Stretch After Your Workout – This is extremely important to avoid muscle soreness. After your walk, jog or workout, make sure you stretch your muscles for 15 to 20 seconds before they cool down. They will be warm and elastic so they will stretch well.
8 – Don’t Be A Hero – Going out and training hard might feel great at the time, but when you wake up with stiff and sore muscles the next day you will be tempted to take the day off from exercise. You should start slowly, exercise within your capacity. Make the exercise enjoyable with moderate exertion and only increase the intensity by a maximum of 10% the week after week. This will allow your muscles time to adapt and prevent soreness and injury.
The one BIG trick is “Don’t do too much too quickly!”