The soreness and pain you feel after an intense workout will not compare to the body aches you may feel by maintaining a sedentary lifestyle and not exercising.
The soreness that you may experience after a tough workout is due to the buildup of lactic acid from muscle fibers undergoing the stress of beginning to break down. As your muscle fibers begin to repair, they get larger and stronger, leading to bigger and stronger muscles.
Muscle soreness is a normal side effect when you exercise. It can begin a few hours after starting a new activity or changing your workout routine, and it may last anywhere between 24 to 48 hours. It is a sign that you are getting stronger.
Exercise Improves Your Aches and Pains
Exercise helps your muscles get stronger, and it has other health benefits like:
- Lubricating your joints and prevent joint pain
- Maintaining bone strength and integrity
- Improving sleep
- Helping with weight management
- Giving you a boost of energy
- Enhancing your quality of life
If you do not engage in regular exercise, this may lead to health conditions associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for prolonged periods can put you at higher risks of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
A lack of physical activity is harmful to your musculoskeletal system in the long run as your muscles start to stiffen and weaken. Sitting for prolonged periods can also lead to poor posture and neck and back pain, and it can even worsen chronic pain symptoms.
Any type of exercise can improve every aspect of your health, which is why it is important to start a new workout routine slowly. Easing into an exercise routine will help prevent a myriad of sports injuries while you gradually improve your strength and cardiovascular endurance.
One of the best ways to relieve muscle soreness and prevent pain is to start with gentle exercises. Exercise will strengthen your muscles and lubricate your joints, making you less likely to get injured or to experience joint pain. Although it may seem counterintuitive at first, the more you move, the faster the discomfort will go away.
- Start with walking, as this is one of the best ways to resume the type of movement that our body was designed for. For millennia, our species walked many terrains to get from point A to point B. Consider tapping into this basic movement that we were designed to do.
- Light stretches will help with flexibility. If your day consists of you sitting for prolonged periods, consider taking breaks in between to do stretches of your shoulder and chest, neck, back, and hips to improve posture. Stretching your hands and arms will help prevent wrist pain. And simply standing up straight and tall with arms reaching high to the sky with palms out facing forward and your fingers spread out will give you an exhilarating stretch from your toes up to your fingers.
- Be communal with your workouts. Exercising with a friend will help you keep motivated, engaged, and accountable with your workout goals. Set a scheduled time a few times a week and make it part of your routine.
- Be realistic about your limits and goals. If you are going to start a new sport, start slow. If you will begin resistance exercises with weights, be aware of how much you can lift. Use proper form when lifting weights to avoid injuries. While you may want to push yourself, remember that slow and steady wins the race.
Although you may be hesitant to exercise due to concerns of joint pain and stiffness, lack of exercise can worsen joints pain and stiffness.
Your bones need strong muscles and flexible ligaments to maintain support. Not exercising leads to weaker supporting muscles. This will create more stress on your bones and joints, and ultimately worsen the pain.
- If you are having some mild pain after exercising, utilizing a heating pad or warm bath may help to temporarily ease the discomfort.
- Ice is another way to help with mild pain or discomfort because it will help reduce any swelling or inflammation your muscles may experience after an exercise routine.
Be mindful and listen to your body since severe muscle soreness and pain do have the potential of being dangerous. If you experience any pain that prevents you from doing any activity of your daily life, then it is time to rest.
If the pain persists for longer than 72 hours or you start noticing darkened urine, then the muscle breakdown was too much, and you will need immediate medical attention as this may be early signs of rhabdomyolysis. This is a condition that results in direct or indirect muscular injury, leading to muscle death and other serious complications like kidney injury and failure. Signs and symptoms include:
- Worsening and unbearable pain
- Swollen limbs
- Decreased range of motion in the joints
- Dark-colored urine or even decreased production of urine
Before You Start
Talk to your health care provider about starting an exercise routine and how it fits into your treatment plan and lifestyle. Your doctor can also work with a physical therapist to find the exercise plan that provides the most benefit while minimizing any pain.
Consider working with a personal trainer or fitness expert if you are uncertain of where to start or what workouts are best for you. A personal trainer can tailor an exercise plan that meets your needs and goals with your well-being in mind. Their goal is to track your progress while helping minimize the risk of injury so that you can monitor your progress as you get into shape.
Including exercise in your lifestyle and building strength are keys to living a long healthy life. Remember, engaging in any type of activity will lower your risk of developing chronic health conditions and help maintain mobility while reducing aches and pain in life.