You’re probably familiar with the soreness that comes days after a vigorous workout. Maybe you’ve been trying to increase your strength and endurance by attending Crossfit classes or working out at the gym more consistently. Regardless of the reason, you’re interested in preventing muscle soreness after a workout.
What Is Muscle Soreness?
Muscle soreness is the pain and stiffness that can happen after working out or doing some other type of physical activity. This type of soreness is also called delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It usually starts 12 to 24 hours after exercising and can last up to 72 hours. The good news is that it goes away on its own and doesn’t cause any long-term damage.
DOMS is different from the pain you might feel during or immediately after a workout. That pain is called acute exercise-related pain and is caused by lactic acid build-up in your muscles. It’s also different from the pain of an injury, which should be treated by a healthcare professional.
Why Does Muscle Soreness Happen?
DOMS happens when your muscles are repairing themselves after being broken down during a workout. When you exercise, you put stress on your muscles, which causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. This is a normal part of working out, and it’s how your muscles get stronger.
In the days after a workout, your body repairs the tears, and the muscles get bigger and stronger. This process is called muscle protein synthesis. It’s why you might feel sore a day or two after working out, but not immediately afterward.
DOMS is more likely to happen if you’re new to exercise, if you haven’t worked out in a while, or if you’ve recently increased the intensity, duration, or frequency of your workouts.
What Can You Do To Prevent Muscle Soreness?
There’s no guaranteed way to prevent DOMS, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk.
First, it’s important to warm up before any type of exercise. This can help prevent injuries and also increase blood flow to your muscles, which can help them recover more quickly afterward.
After your workout, be sure to cool down and stretch. This will help your muscles relax and decrease the amount of lactic acid build-up, which can contribute to soreness. It’s also important to stay hydrated throughout the day and eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of protein.
If you’re still experiencing muscle soreness after taking these precautions, there are a few things you can do to ease the discomfort. Taking a hot bath or using a heating pad can help relax your muscles. You can also try massaging the affected area or using over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen.
If you’re regularly experiencing muscle soreness that interferes with your ability to exercise or go about your normal routine, it’s important to see a doctor. They can rule out any underlying medical conditions and help you create a plan to prevent future discomfort.
These are just a few things you can do to prevent muscle soreness. Remember, everyone experiences DOMS differently, so don’t be discouraged if you still feel sore after taking these precautions. Just give your body time to adjust and heal, and soon you’ll be back to your regular workout routine.