Muscle pain can be troublesome and also downright agonizing. Knowing the source and reason for your muscle pain is critical to its management. While there are several common and treatable reasons for muscle pain, several pose severe health risks.
Read on for information on ways to manage your muscle pain, but if you aren’t sure of its source, see your healthcare professional immediately.
Most of us have felt that agonizing muscle pain a few days after an intense game or workout; your legs weigh ten times their normal weight, each step shoots pain throughout your lower body, and standing up is a monumental task.
Post-workout muscle pain is such a common occurrence that many just expect and tolerate the aches. But, there are ways to proactively avoid post-workout pain, as well as several strategies to manage it better and get back to your active lifestyle.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (aka DOMS)
You may be familiar with the term DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
- Simply put, this is post-workout pain, typically rearing its ugly head one or two days following a workout or sports activity.
- DOMS is usually the result of eccentric muscle action (lengthening the muscle, think of the down phase of a bicep curl ), and DOMS can be more severe if you are new to the movement.
Case in point, after my first indoor soccer match, I couldn’t lift my legs without agony. However, the exact cause of DOMS requires further research and exploration of the “various biochemical changes” that occur during exercise.
How do you know if it's DOMS or injury?
- If you experience muscle pain during your workout or game, the pain is not DOMS.
- It’s vital that you ease out of the activity and seek expert health guidance on what caused the muscle pain and how you should best proceed.
- You may have incurred a sprain, tear, or damage to other tissues such as ligaments or tendons. Proceed with caution!
What Causes Muscles to Ache?
1. Doing Too Much Exercise
- Muscle pain can arise from doing too much too soon.
- If you are new to the activity, sport, or exercise, build your muscular strength and endurance at a steady pace.
- Overdoing it can result in not only soreness but also serious injury.
2. Underlying Disease
- Another source of muscle pain that requires your immediate attention is disease, including infection.
- If your muscle soreness has a sudden onset with no known cause, seek medical attention.
3. Poor Muscle Alignment
- Your muscle pain may result from an imbalance in your muscles or be the result of poor alignment.
- Many find that orthotic insoles provide them with an improved stance, which eases discomfort.
4. Fluid Imbalance
- Another common source of muscle pain is an imbalance in your fluids; dehydration causes fluids to be pulled out of your tissues, resulting in painful aches.
How To Avoid Sore Muscles After a Workout?
- Avoid muscle pain by always using sound training principles; if you aren’t sure how to do an exercise or use a piece of gym equipment, ask for instructions.
- Take the time to include a thorough warm-up and warm-down for every workout and game.
- If the movement, exercise, or sport is new to you, ease into it and gradually build your knowledge and intensity.
How Do You Treat Muscle Pain?
When muscle pain occurs, there are many actions you can take at home to ease your discomfort.
Massage May Help Sore Muscles Recover
- By taking charge of your recovery and relief, easing some of your muscle pain is possible.
- Consider the value of massage to work out muscle tension, knots and alleviate the pain. Try self-massage using quality massage balls or muscle roller sticks.
- Both will ease tension, improve circulation, and relieve cramps and spasms.
- In fact, the Journal of Athletic Training reports that “massage was effective in alleviating DOMS by approximately 30% and reducing swelling”.
- Self-massage is a cost-effective and practical method of working out your kinks. Self-massage allows you to target your problem areas and adjust the applied pressure to meet your exacting needs.
You spend a great deal of time getting your body fit, so take the time to care for it well.