The Art of Relieving Muscle Soreness: What You Need to Know
Your muscles can get sore for lots of reasons. If you’re not used to doing a lot of work, they can get sore after a day of gardening or cleaning, or you might be active and get sore muscles from a new workout or exercise.
Some people may suffer from chronic muscle pain, a side effect of different medications, or symptoms of a disease or disorder.
Whatever the reason, muscle soreness can make you miserable for days, so, we hope, these tips and techniques for alleviating the pain will help you go about your day pain-free.
What Is Muscle Pain?
Muscle soreness is usually a steady ache or stiffness in the affected area that gets worse when you try to use the muscles associated with that part of your body. The causes of muscle pain and stiffness vary, but it’s usually brought on by overexertion of the muscles through repetitive movement.
This overexertion can derive from several things. Perhaps you decide to work out after a long hiatus. Maybe you exercise for too long. Your house may be a mess, and you decide to spend the day cleaning. All these sorts of unexpected and repetitive activities can cause muscle pain and soreness.
It often takes a day for you to feel the pain. Soreness is not necessarily bad. It is a sign your muscles are getting stronger. Unfortunately, the pain can last for several days.
If the soreness persists for more than a few days, and these tips and techniques don’t seem to help, see your doctor.
Before Any Activity
Most people will suffer from muscle pain after a workout or some physical exertion. This pain can be minimized, or even avoided, by ensuring the body is warm before any activity is attempted. Do not attempt to stretch or do any heavy workout when your muscles are cold. It doesn’t take long to warm up—5-10 minutes of brisk walking will do it.
A warm-up can greatly shorten the duration of sore muscles afterward.
If your muscle pain is caused by deliberate exercise, perhaps because you are starting a new routine or trying a new form of exercise, don’t let the discomfort scare you away from engaging in the activity.
Exercise has many health benefits, so a little temporary discomfort shouldn’t get in the way of that.
However, pay attention to your body. Severe muscle soreness after exercise may be a sign that your new workout is too difficult. Start off any new exercise plan with light exercises and allow your body to adapt before trying anything more intensive.
Heat or Ice?
If your muscles are sore, there are some therapies you can try at home that might help, including heat and ice.
Many sports trainers use ice or heat therapies to reduce muscle pain and soreness on athletes. The general rule of thumb is use ice for a new injury and use heat for aching muscles. Generally, ice is better for fresh injuries, as it reduces inflammation and pain. It calms the tissues and reduces swelling.
In contrast, heat is very soothing on sore muscles, but must never be used on new injuries, as it will make the affected area swell.
You can use ice or heat packs or creams applied to the skin and cool the affected area. There are topical gels for heating and soothing your muscles, too.
Choose your intervention based on the cause of your pain and discontinue if there is any negative reaction.
Anti-inflammatories reduce pain and swelling and might help if your muscles are sore. There are many different types of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, and many of them are extremely effective in alleviating muscle pain.
If you get muscle pain on a regular basis, you might want to talk to your doctor about trying a form of electrical therapy known as TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. These small units are attached to the affected part of the body and send small electrical charges into the body, causing odd sensations or muscle contractions.
It is completely painless, and some people find it very helpful in alleviating muscle pain.
Muscle pain can make the sufferer reluctant to move or make the normal activities of life more difficult. Whatever the cause of your muscle pain, it’s good to be aware of many tips and techniques that can reduce the discomfort of this condition and allow you to get on with your life.
- Becky McDowell