I took a break from the gym, for personal reasons. I loved the extra sleep in the morning and the sedentary life, but lately, I started to feel its effects: my clothes becoming tight, my muscles starting to subside. So, it was the time to pump iron again. And after just a couple of days, I started to feel the effects: my muscles rusted during the weeks of rest, are creaking and hurting. It’s called “delayed onset muscle soreness”. And it’s hell.
Muscle soreness: causes and effects
Muscle soreness is the result of exercise. It appears at everyone doing an unusual amount – or unusually intense – movement, hours or days after it. In fact, it appears because of the damage your muscles suffer during lengthening exercise, to which the muscle adapts later. This is why soreness appears only in the first few days of physical activity.
The sore muscle will hurt. The pain will not be intense unless you try to move. Besides, sore muscles will feel stiff and numb. The intensity of the pain will grow in the first 24 hours, peaks between 24 and 72 hours, then starts to decrease, only to disappear up to 7 days later.
Which is a lot of pain, so you should do something about it.
How to get rid of muscle soreness
One of the ways in which you can avoid, or reduce, soreness is to have a cup of coffee before working out. According to a study, having two cups of coffee before exercise reduces both the soreness and the fatigue by up to a half.
Applying ice packs to the aching muscles can be a quick, symptomatic relief, with long-term beneficial effects. You might be tempted to take a hot bath or shower after working out, but if you are sore, cold is much better, as it prevents further muscle damage and helps them heal.
Having a deep tissue massage after the workout is another great “treatment” for muscle soreness. It helps your muscles eliminate inflammatory chemicals, and helps you recover faster after the workout.
High doses of vitamin C and a post-workout breakfast rich in proteins are also thought to help avoid soreness in the first place. But a good warm-up before starting to work out can also contribute to it.
Do painkillers work?
Anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers can provide relief for muscle soreness, but keep in mind their side effects. Ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen are known to relieve the pain.