Better sore than sorry - Tips to manage muscle soreness

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

Have you felt that aching pain all over your body after you work out? Even though it is a ‘pain’, several people would prefer calling it the ‘good pain’. The stiffness and soreness is a reminder of the fact that you have worked out today!

When you exercise, you stretch your muscles out of their inactivity and push them into growth and strength. In the process, you subject them to microscopic tears which are the cause of soreness.

The soreness is your body’s way of telling you that the repair work is on and you need to slow down or rest completely for a few days.

Stretching is an important part of working out. Stretching should be done as both, a warm-up as well as a cool down.

Tips to manage soreness:

  1. Stretching: A few minutes of stretching exercises before you start your workout is immensely helpful. It prepares your muscle for the strain ahead and helps it to recover better.
    Ending your exercise session with 10 minutes of stretching is equally important. It prevents an abrupt end to the muscle activity.
  2. Light Massage: Exercising causes the muscles to contract and tighten up. This is one of the reasons of pain and soreness. Massaging the muscle lightly helps in improving the blood flow to the area, reducing soreness. While massaging start from the ends of the muscle, it helps the muscle to relax faster. In the case of back muscles, seek professional help.
  3. Warm Bath: Taking a bath with warm water is an immediate relaxant. It helps release the tension in the muscles, thus making you feel better.
  4. Heat Packs: Wrap your muscle in a hot towel. The increased temperature causes more blood to flow to the muscle. The blood brings along with it healing nutrients and fresh oxygen. It also helps in flushing away the pain causing chemicals like cytokines and lactic acid accumulated at the muscle site.
  5. Proper Diet: It is important to keep drinking adequate amounts of water to prevent dehydration. Proteins are the building blocks of the muscles and also the first to break down in the exercise process. Make sure you replenish the protein stock by taking a protein drink about 15 to 45 minutes after your work out.
  6. Painkillers: Mild painkillers like ibuprofen or aspirin help relieve the soreness. However, remember not to resort to them every time.

Remember No Pain, No Gain! A little muscle soreness is a good thing in the long run. The pain you feel today is the strength you will feel tomorrow when you realize that your glutes are strong enough for you to never sit on a public toilet again!