So you have decided to focus on getting a little healthier. Your first workout goes well, and you are very proud of yourself. That is, until the following day when you are so sore that you can barely get out of bed.
You ask yourself, “What happened? Did I do something wrong? Did I do too much?
Muscle sores are a side effect of the strain on the muscles when exercising. It is often called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, completely normal. DOMS usually starts within 6-8 hours after new activity or a change in activity and can last 24-48 hours after training. Inflammation can cause muscle pain, one of the primary triggers for this muscle soreness.
You are most likely to experience DOMS after one of the following:
- Start an exercise program for the very first time
- Add a new activity or exercise to your workout
- Increase the intensity of an exercise already in your program (increase the amount of weight lifted, number of repetitions, or speed)
- Performing the same activity repeatedly without adequate rest
All people are at risk for muscle sores, even bodybuilders and professional athletes. Normal muscle soreness is a sign that you are getting more robust, and you do not have to be afraid. During exercise, you stress the muscles and the fibers begin to break down. When fibers repair themselves, they become larger and more robust than before, which means that your muscles will be better prepared to deal with stress the next time you exercise.
To relieve muscle soreness, perform gentle exercises, such as walking or stretching lightly. It may seem intuitive, but the more you move, the faster the discomfort will go away! A warm bath can relieve the pain temporarily, but ice is a better treatment in the long run because it helps reduce the swelling and inflammation in the muscles.
It is essential to know the difference between moderate muscle soreness caused by exercise and pain due to overuse or muscle damage.
How much pain is too much?
- If the pain you are experiencing prevents you from performing daily activities associated with living or working, the exercise is too much.
- If the discomfort lasted for more than 72 hours, the training was too much.
How can you tell if your soreness is the typical type of soreness?
Pain that occurs during a workout is a sign of a problem with the training. It is not normal if the pain begins during or immediately after exercise. This type of pain might signal your body to stop the activity before severe joint or muscle damage occurs.
In severe cases, the muscles can break down so much that you can become very ill and damage your kidneys. See your GP if you encounter any of the following after a workout or activity that causes muscle sores:
- Severe unbearable pain
- Severely swollen limbs
- Loss of joint movement due to severe swelling
- Dark-colored urine or reduced urine output
If you consider quitting your exercise program due to muscle soreness, try your best to work your way through the first few days without getting discouraged. It WILL get better, and the muscles will thank you later.