Dealing with Exercise-Related Aches and Pains
Exercise comes with plenty of benefits, but unfortunately it can sometimes cause aches and pains too. However, there are steps you can take to avoid aching muscles. Here’s what you need to know about dealing with and preventing workout-related soreness.
Why do You Feel Sore After Exercise?
It’s normal to experience sore muscles after exercise when you’ve pushed your body to do something new. You’re most likely to feel sore if:
- You’ve started a new exercise programme or tried a new physical activity.
- You suddenly increased the length or intensity of your workout.
In these cases, your muscles have been required to work harder than they’re used to or in a different way. This can cause microscopic damage to the muscle fibres, resulting in stiffness and aches.
How Long Will the Soreness Last?
The aching you feel after exercise – known as delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS) – generally starts between 24 and 48 hours after exercise, and lasts for three to five days.
How is DOMS Treated?
There are a number of ways you can try to relieve post-exercise muscle soreness. Ice packs, massage and anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen are all options. There’s no single proven method of reducing the aches – you just need to try to find a method that works for you. The pain shouldn’t be difficult to cope with but if you find it does become debilitating, you should seek medical advice.
How is DOMS Prevented?
The best way to avoid sore muscles after exercise is to start any new physical activity or exercise programme gradually. If you’re new to exercise in general, start with small manageable sessions and activities that don’t push your body too hard. You can slowly increase the duration and intensity of your workouts from there, allowing your muscles time to adapt to the new movements.
It may also be helpful to properly warm up before each workout. Activities such as marching on the spot, knee lifts and shoulder rolls will help to prepare your muscles for the more vigorous activities you’re about to engage in, which can reduce the amount of soreness you feel later. You should also try stretching both before and after exercise.
Keep in mind that post-exercise soreness is normal and it shouldn’t put you off continuing with your exercise regime. Experiencing just one bout of DOMS means your muscles are adapting to the new type of activity, which means that when you next engage in that same type of activity your muscles will recover from it faster. They’ll gradually get used to your exercise regime until it doesn’t cause any soreness at all.