Avoiding Discomfort Post-Workout
Summer is the ideal time of year to get in shape. Starting a new exercise program can be challenging and even daunting for some, as it reminds them that working out results in muscle soreness and discomfort. Although it doesn’t feel like it, a little bit of soreness is a good thing – it means you are getting stronger!
Why Muscle Soreness Happens
When the body is put in a stressful situation – such as doing an activity that it isn’t used to or increasing the intensity or duration of a workout – tiny injuries called microdamage occur in the muscle fibers and connective tissue that cause mild discomfort. This is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), since the discomfort increases between 24 and 48 hours after the activity. The repair of these tissues and fibers allows the muscle to adapt to the stress demands, making them stronger and able to perform the task more efficiently the next time.
How to Alleviate Discomfort
Several remedies can be used to ease muscle soreness – such as a massage, temperature therapy, ice, rest, anti-inflammatory medication and heat. Light exercise such as walking, swimming and yoga also increase blood flow, bringing oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood to the injured area to help the muscles repair themselves.
Here are a few things to do before you begin working out in order to help prevent and alleviate discomfort.
- Remember to stay hydrated. Water is the wellspring of life!
- Warming up properly before you exercise and cooling down immediately afterward by stretching when your muscles are warm may help reduce discomfort as well.
- Adding antioxidants, such as vitamin C, and protein to your diet have been reported to help reduce soreness after intense activity.
- The best way to prevent muscle soreness is to ease into your workout. While training for your next event or exercising, don’t try to win the Olympic Gold Medal right off the bat. Take it easy the first couple of weeks to allow your body time to adjust to the demands.
The body is an amazing machine and works well when taken care of properly. The next time you start a new workout or activity, use these tips to help manage the discomfort. More importantly, use muscle soreness as motivation and encouragement to continue working hard, knowing your efforts are paying off immediately and you are getting stronger each time.
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