By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Muscle soreness is a common effect of strength training. Strength training is a category of exercises designed to help you cultivate stronger muscles. By incorporating gym equipment used to isolate, induce, and produce muscle growth, strength training helps countless individuals reach their desired body goals. Despite its numerous benefits, one of the downfalls of strength training exercises, or any other workout, is its ability to cause muscle soreness. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), or sore muscles, typically results from taking on new exercises that require the body to work more than normal. This in combination with the lack of proper nutrition and rest can lead to a period of up to three to five days of discomfort. Working out is hard enough. The last thing you need is another reason to stay in bed in the morning. Want to learn more about how to treat sore muscles? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Sit back, relax, and get ready to explore the science behind soreness and different methods to treat it.
Understanding the causes of muscle soreness helps provide a clear biological picture of what happens after you workout. One of the main causes of muscle soreness is a buildup of lactic acid. Lactic acid is an organic byproduct of muscle tissues when you undergo an intense workout. Intensity is relative. What you might consider a hard workout might be easy for someone else. When you undergo a strenuous activity, your body utilizes oxygen to break down glucose into usable energy. If not enough oxygen is available during your workout, your body then creates lactate to help create energy to finish the exercise. Because lactic acid builds faster than you can burn it off, most people pass their threshold and thus suffer muscle soreness as a result.
An additional cause of muscle soreness is inflammation caused by swelling. Specifically, in the case of strength training, your muscles are constantly shifting between phases of tearing apart and repairing themselves. If a workout is too intense, your white blood cells and other components of your body designed to combat intense inflammation rush to the rescue. Swelling can result and thus cause soreness for up to five days.
Intense workouts require planning and consideration. Think of your body as a car. Like cars, our bodies require constant maintenance to ensure we are working properly. Thus, if you are working out consistently and incorporating strength training into your regimen, it’s important that you take the time to invest in both personal and professional tools. As always, if you feel like your sore muscles are impeding your day to day living routine, it is wise to seek help from a licensed medical physician. On that note, if you would like to learn how to exercise in a safe way that avoids harm, researching an appropriate trainer can make a world of difference. Sometimes muscle soreness can be the result of you not completing certain exercises correctly. If that is the case, that can lead to some real health issues in the future involving muscle strain. Incorporating a trainer in the early days of your workout program can assist you with properly learning how to conduct exercises that will not cause serious harm to your body.
Massage therapy is another useful technique to alleviate muscle soreness. During sessions, trained medical professionals use their hands and other tools to manipulate the soft tissues of your body. If there are any points in your body, including your muscles or tendons, that feel a bit tense, massage therapy is the way to go. Additional benefits of massage therapy include circulation improvement, pain reduction, toxin elimination, and more. One to two times every week is recommended if you are suffering from intense muscle tension. Although one to two times a week is not fiscally possible for everyone, some spas offer monthly subscriptions. For around $50 – $75 a month, many spas offer monthly services. Whether you are investing in a trainer or massage service, keep in mind that there is no price limit when it comes to your health. Therefore, always make sure to prioritize the state of your wellness above anything else.
A cheaper way to alleviate sore muscles after strength training is by establishing a good self care ritual. Think about it like this: Doing a little bit every day makes the pain go away. After a long, hard day it’s important that we take the time to recharge our bodies. This may involve reading a good book or simply laying down. In the case of muscle soreness, a surefire way to alleviate tension is taking a bath. Epsome salt baths specifically help relax your muscles and loosen stiff joints. Additionally, doing at home yoga routines assist with stretching your body out before muscle soreness sets in to your joints. It must be noted that nothing is a cure all. To make sure your body is receiving the care it deserves you need to take little steps every day.
Working out is already hard enough, so let’s not make it more difficult. Understanding your body in relation to muscle soreness can aid your workout and recovery period. Most importantly, by incorporating these different tools and tips you can ensure that you are keeping your body safe.