Whenever we exercise - whether for bodybuilding or weight loss - or our muscles can get sore right away. This is known as acute soreness. Alternatively, the pain can peak days later. This is called delayed-onset muscle soreness. During this time, our muscles repair and strengthen themselves, making it a vital part of the process. Sore muscle pain can improve quickly or last several days. There is no way to completely avoid it, but there are things we can do to lessen it. Of course, there are things that relieve this with over the counter pain medication, creams or gels. But these merely mask the pain as opposed to dealing with the source.
Warming Up and Cooling Down Many studies have shown that warming up our muscles before exercise is more effective than stretching. Professor Rob Herbert of Neuroscience Research Australia took part in the three largest randomised trials on the effects of stretching, and concluded that that stretching even had little or no beneficial effect on injury reduction. Warming up the specific muscles we will be using in our work out increases the blood flow to them, which reduces pain following our physical activity. We can achieve this with lighter variations of certain exercises, such as slow jogging or biking. Stretching is better utilised during our post-exercise cool down. Muscles are relaxed and more flexible when they’re warm, and stretching circulates blood away from the muscles to help recovery.
Stay Safe and Stay Hydrated! Drinking water and staying hydrated helps to control body temperature, loosens our joints, and transports nutrients to create energy. Without water, our bodies struggle to perform at its highest level, and you can suffer from cramps, fatigue or dizziness. Though rest is important, it is best to avoid complete rest and immobilisation. We should wait around 48 hours to work the same muscles in the same way, but limited and lighter exercise of those muscles can help. But perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind is safety; make sure we use the correct technique and stay within our limits. Advice from trainers or instructors can help with this – they can teach the correct practices and help us to progress at a steady pace. It is perfectly normal to have sore muscles following physical activity – they come back stronger, and the discomfort is easily manageable. If the problem persists then seek advice, but it is a key part of the process.