Is muscle soreness after a workout normal?

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Whether you’re just getting back into your workout routine or you’re an avid athlete, we all experience soreness after a workout at some point.

If you are new to exercise, some pain is to be expected. After all, your muscles are used to inactivity and it will take them a little time to adjust to a fitness routine. If you’re active, changing your fitness routine to something your body isn’t used to, like trying a new workout or gaining weight, uses your muscles in a different way and can lead to soreness.

Feeling a little sore after a workout can be completely normal. But it’s also important to know the difference between normal muscle pain and actual pain that may indicate injury or overuse.

What is the difference between having pain and being in pain?

There is a big difference between the two. The pain you feel crawling a few days after a workout is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. When we do exercise that the body is not used to, it causes temporary muscle damage and inflammation necessary for the body to adapt and grow stronger. It can make you feel aches, pains and stiffness.

The main way to tell the difference between pain and soreness is to know when the discomfort starts and how long it lasts. Muscle soreness takes at least a few hours and sometimes a few days to develop and can last 1-3 days, sometimes longer, depending on the intensity of the exercise or the time that has passed since your last exercise. Pain is more likely to occur immediately during physical activity. And more often than not, the pain will linger longer and affect your ability to carry out your daily activities.

Signs of muscle pain:

  • Muscles sensitive to touch.
  • Muscles that may have a feeling of pain or tension.
  • Normally begins after physical activity ends (and sometimes not until a day or two later).

Signs of pain or injury:

  • Sharp pain at rest or during exercise.
  • The pain may be more common than muscle pain.
  • It begins during physical activity, occasionally after.
  • Swelling or inflammation is a common sign of an injured muscle.

Why do I feel stiff and sore after my workout?

Everyone experiences pain differently. Delayed onset muscle soreness not only causes the soreness that many are used to feeling after working out, but also stiffness and sore muscles. If your muscles aren’t used to the intensity, duration, or volume of exercise they’ve been through, they need to adapt and get stronger. As your muscles repair and recover, these symptoms occur because of this injury and this repair process.

For some, this may take the form of a painful sensation in the muscles. Others may just feel stiff. Muscle soreness can last up to two days after a workout. Most of the time this is completely normal and a sign that your muscles are repairing and building back stronger.

What to do if you feel pain after a workout

Mild to moderate soreness after an intense workout is normal, extreme soreness or soreness is not and can be a sign of injury. If the pain is severe or persists for more than a week, I recommend seeing a doctor. If the muscles are overstretched or if they don’t have enough time to recover, it can damage the muscles, joints or tissues. Your doctor may recommend ice or heat, rest after exercise, or other measures to help your body heal.

How to help your muscles recover faster

An effective way to reduce pain is to incorporate a static stretching session after each workout. By holding a stretch, you improve flexibility and promote muscle recovery. Adding light movement on your rest days, such as going for a walk or doing yoga, can also promote blood circulation to help muscles repair faster, reducing the duration and intensity of muscle soreness.

Drinking water to stay hydrated is an often overlooked way to prevent muscle soreness. Getting enough electrolytes (which can be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet) can also significantly improve muscle recovery. If you spend a lot of time in the summer heat, especially if you exercise and sweat, be sure to consume more water as your risk of dehydration – and therefore muscle cramps and pain – increase.

Finally, rolling or massaging the muscles with foam can help relax them and promote faster recovery.

The bottom line

Mild soreness and stiffness is normal, especially if you are new to exercising or increasing the intensity of your current routine.

After a few weeks of regular exercise, your muscles should begin to acclimate as they get stronger, and the stiffness and soreness you feel after each workout should lessen. If not, this is a sign that you may need to add more rest days between your workouts or reduce the intensity or duration of your workouts until your body adapts.

While you can’t completely avoid pain (especially if you’re new to a fitness routine), the good news is that you can reduce its severity and duration by easing yourself (and not overdoing it, too much). early), static stretching after each workout, and incorporating rest days between workouts.

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