Dealing with post-workout pain

Exercise is supposed to make you feel better and in the long-term it should, but even when you’re doing your body good it can feel painful at first. That’s because the process of developing your muscles involves them breaking down and subsequently rebuilding.

The first thing to do is determine whether the pain is normal or something you should worry about. If it is excruciating, is stopping you from moving and lasts a long time, then it’s important not to ignore it. Continuing to exercise when you’re in this type of pain can do long-term damage and you should seek the advice of a healthcare professional.

Healthy workout pain

What this article will focus on is the uncomfortable feeling you can get after exercise that goes away over time. You may also find that as you get fitter this pain occurs less frequently and goes away more quickly.

In the meantime, you can take advantage of these hints and tips to help you deal with any pain and discomfort as a result of your workout.

Delayed-onset muscle soreness

Even if you feel tired after a workout, it usually takes a bit longer for any pain to set in. This is called delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and tends to peak in the 48 to 72 hours post workout. This is the period when your body is repairing the muscles used during your exercise.

Tackling DOMS

Your body will begin to feel better over time, but there are a number of techniques you can employ to help it on its way. The first of these is to keep moving. It may feel counterintuitive when you’re in pain from exercise, but staying still will not improve the situation.

Don’t go out and repeat your entire workout over again, but some light movements will certainly help. This type of activity will improve your blood flow, transporting much-needed nutrients to the muscles as they’re being repaired.

It’s a fine balance between letting your body relax and repair, and boosting your circulation. Recommended activities include walking and light strength training.

There are lots of reasons to ensure you rehydrate properly after exercise, but reducing pain is among them. Drinking plenty of water will help to flush out the waste products and toxins that were released as the muscles broke down during exercise.

As well as paying attention to what you’re drinking, you should also consider your diet. Eating enough protein both before and exercise will help to build and maintain muscle and therefore help to prevent post-workout pain.

There is such a thing as too much protein, but if you work out regularly then 1.4 grams to two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is a good ratio to work to. Try and spread it evenly throughout your daily meals.

One of the main types of pain associated with the period after exercise is a tightness in the muscles. Some light stretching can help to relieve this and allow you to move more freely. While this won’t repair your muscles any faster, it is a good way to cope with the pain, just be sure not to overdo it.

Don’t stretch any of your muscles for more than ten seconds at a time post-exercise and if it feels unbearable, then stop.

Some athletes swear by heat therapy post-workout and others prefer extreme cold to ease their pain. It’s really a matter of personal preference, although it’s worth considering that ice can reduce swelling and heat is good for minimizing tension.

Both methods can help to boost circulation, but are mainly used for dealing with pain in the moment as opposed to helping with the healing process.

If you’re coming to terms with a new workout routine and are experiencing pain in the aftermath of each session, it’s worth exploring these methods to see which ones work for you. There’s a chance that a combination of several techniques will lead to minimal discomfort.

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