Despite my best efforts, I didn’t manage to keep up with my exercise routine over the summer. Things have just been too crazy around here. (And when I say “here,” I’m talking about two different locations: In Utah, prior to my move, and in Pennsylvania, after the move.)
But now I’m getting back into it. My son is in school, and my home is mostly put together. So I’ve exercised the last couple of days. And it’s making me sore. It’s important to understand what’s making you sore, as well as take steps to reduce your muscle soreness.
What Causes Muscle Soreness?
In most cases, muscle soreness is the result of engaging in an activity that you are not used to. When you do something different with your muscles, such as increasing the intensity of your workout, working out for longer, or even just starting an exercise program, you end up creating small tears in your muscles.
Your body strains to repair the damage, and that can cause some delayed pain. Normally, the soreness doesn’t actually set in for hours after your activity — and it may even take a day or two. (If you experience pain while something is happening, you might want to consider other causes, like a nerve problem.)
It’s also possible that you could be experiencing inflammation as part of your extra muscle activity. That will add it’s own level of pain.
Reducing Muscle Soreness
Of course, when you know that muscle soreness might be coming (and I really should have known what was coming when I started back up with my routine), there are some things you can do to reduce the pain.
Here are some tips for reducing muscle soreness:
- My brother in law has a background in fitness and sports medicine (as well as sports psychology). He recommends moving around a little bit after your workout. Part of the problem when it comes to stiffness especially is that you immediately stop moving. Instead, gentle movements can help wind you down and avoid a certain level of stiffness.
- As you’ve probably heard, one of the best things you can do for your muscles is to stretch. There are many benefits to proper stretching, and this includes making your muscles flexible so that you are less likely to experience microtearing when you work out. Stretching won’t solve all your soreness problems — especially if you go through a very strenuous workout — but it can reduce some of your muscle pain.
- Massage can also help boost circulation to your sore muscles. This can reduce stiffness and pain. Move gently after your massage so that your body has time to absorb the effects.
- Finally, make sure to stay hydrated. There are a number of health benefits associated with drinking water, and one of them is that it keeps your body hydrated, which, in turn means less stress on muscles, and proper hydration to help maintain some elasticity.
If you make it a point to stretch before easing into your workout, and you drink plenty of water during your workout, and then stretch and move gently after you finish, there is a good chance that you will reduce your soreness.
Later, as your body gets used to your routine, you will feel less soreness following a workout. Of course, that might also mean that you need to step it up a little bit in order to keep seeing good results.