Heading Off Sore Muscles  

Dated 04 June 2016

Overheard at the local health club: �Oh boy, am I going to hurt tomorrow! It�s a common belief that muscles will automatically feet sore after an exercise workout.  
When we finally begin our Jane Fonda routine, start that first game of the season or even rake leaves or move heavy furniture, we tend to think that muscles soreness is inevitable.

But that�s not necessarily so, because with a little planning, muscles aches can be avoided, or at least minimized.  

First, it�s important to realize why your muscles feel sore after you�ve exercised.  This pain is temporary and fades rather quickly.  The feeling of acute muscle discomfort has been linked to both the build up of exercise by products, such as lactic acid, and the lack of blood flow. Because it doesn�t stay with us too long, we tend to think that acute soreness is the only muscle 

A constricted blood flow occurs during high-intensity exercises, such as weight-lifting, because the muscles forcibly tighten and thus restrict the flow of blood to the muscle area.  This constriction of blood flow, known as ischemia , causes metabolic wastes, or lactic aced, to accumulate, causing swelling.  The lack of normal blood flow also puts pressure on nerve endings, causing pain in the muscle area, tenderness we will encounter after we exercise.  If, for example, you begin a nautilus program on Monday, you may feel wonderful after your first workout.  The next day, your muscles may remain in good shape, with no hint of soreness or pain.  But by Tuesday evening, there�s good  chance you will begin to feel slightly stiff and achy. By Wednesday morning, you may find it nearly impossible to bend down to tie your shoe, let alone continue with your Nautilus, schedule.  This is when you know that acute muscle pain has evolved into delayed muscle soreness. 

Delayed  muscle soreness usually surfaces 24 to 48 hours after you�ve exercises- just about the time you thought you has escaped any soreness at all- and may persist for several days.  Like acute muscle soreness, the delayed syndrome is also a result of constricted blood flow.  But the delayed version results in more severe pain and causes a reflex muscle spasm.  This spasm produces more ischemia, which triggers additional swelling pain, causing a progressive, painful cycle for your muscles.  In addition, delayed muscle soreness has been linked to the swelling that occurs when muscle fibers are abused or injured during strenuous activity. 


Although almost every athlete or fitness enthusiast feels the instant effects of acute muscle soreness, delayed muscle soreness is most often associated with beginning exercisers or �weekend warriors�.  These individuals often overwork inactive, native muscle fibers and thus feel the effects of delayed muscle soreness.  The degree of soreness varies with the type of exercise, but is often most severe with weight training or intense calisthenics. 

Because exercise is sports specific, this soreness also can occur when athletes switch sports and thus use some of their less developed muscles.  Both the runner who begins racquetball lessons and the bicyclist who plays a game of tennis may feel not only acute but delayed soreness in those muscles not fully used in their main sport.  

Delayed muscle soreness also may occur when athletes intensify their training, such as joggers who increase their speed or aerobics enthusiasts who double up on their workouts.  There are several basic but effective ways to avoid the nagging effects of muscles soreness.  The most important thing to remember is always start slowly.  This advice applies to everything from your workouts, to your walks, from the first game of the season to that first snow-shoveling session of the winter. 

Also, avoid bouncing and jerky movements when exercising or during strenuous activity.  Again, your high energy level at these times may cause you to run your body ragged, but you'll pay for that overeager attitude in a day or two.  Instead, try resting your muscles the day after you�ve begun exercising so you will be in top shape for the next day. 

If you are involved in an activity such as weight-lifting, remember to begin with light weights in order to case yourself into a more strenuous routine.  It�s much wiser to start with small weights, enabling you to continue your program, than to over lift the first day and  incapacitate yourself for a week. 

It�s also essential to stretch both before and after you exercise.  Slowly stretching your muscles will help accustom then to your activity before your workout.  Afterward, it will help the muscles slowly adjust into their normal state.

Just because you don�t feel any muscle soreness after a day at the gym, don�t forget this post-exercise stretch, because pain may be just around the corner.  If you have the opportunity, try to indulge in a sauna, steam bath or a massage immediately after a workout.  These not only relax your tired muscles, they also increase your circulation which stimulates your blood supply and helps to rid your muscles of the lactic acid associated with delayed muscle soreness.  

Your body is like a fine machine that will rebel if you mistreat it, so handle it with care when it comes to exercise planning. |If you start slowly, change gears carefully and take the time to care for your body before and after exercise, soreness shouldn�t muscle in your fitness schedule.   


1.         Apply an ice pack for 20 minutes to any area that hurts.  Repeat this every hour until the pain subsides. 

2.         Stretch the sore area gently to rid your body of lactic acid, which contributes to the pain.

3.         Walk 15 to 30 minutes at least once a day to increase circulation throughout your body.  This will also help deliver much-needed oxygen to the sore muscles. 

4.         Drink a minimum of eight glasses (64 OZ.) of water daily-more if you�re active � to hydrate your body. 

5.         Avoid strenuous activity as long as you�re in pain.





Be sure to warm up before exercising and stretching.  

For people with chronic conditions or continual episodes of pain, heat can work better than ice  (if you are not treating an acute injury).  Try a heating pad, or a warm shower or bath.

Taking an over-the-counter non steroid anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, may also reduce muscle soreness.


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