Did you know that each time your muscle contracts, it generates force and heat from the stored energy in your body? The amount of muscle fatigue and soreness you feel largely depends on the intensity and duration of your routine. Most people, especially those with a sedentary lifestyle, experience muscle fatigue and soreness after an exercise.
Muscle soreness doesn’t always happen immediately after the exercise. In fact, it generally starts 12 hours after and peaks around one or two days later which is why it’s often referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness or muscle fever.
Researchers have been conducting various studies to understand the relationship between soreness and exercise and they found out that the fatigue could be caused by the microscopic damage done to the muscle fibers after a taxing workout. The damage is mostly the result of stress and microtrauma to the soft tissues. The severity varies depending on how much force is applied to the muscle.
If you haven’t exercised for years and you suddenly start strength training, your muscles will naturally ache. However, if you progress slowly, you’ll allow your body to adjust to your regimen gradually.
• Take it easy. Let your muscle adapt to your arduous physical activity by easing your way in with light exercises such as walking. You can gradually increase the intensity later on.
• Do a proper warm up. Stretching can help with your muscle tightness.
• Cool-down for around five to ten minutes after your routine. Easy workouts like jogging will do before you complete the whole routine with another stretching.
• Working out on an empty stomach is just as bad as working on a full one. Make sure you consume a light snack around two hours before your exercise.
• Sleep for at least 7-9 hours per day. If you’re already tired even before starting the workout, that’s a surefire way to get exhausted mid-way through your routine.
• Set a rest day to allow your muscles to recover from the stress and damage.
• Apply an ice pack to help with the soreness.
• Use a compression machine to help massage and squeeze the legs through alternately inflating and deflating mechanisms. Aside from alleviating pain and reducing muscle fatigue after a high-impact exercise, it is also useful for those with limited mobility because it improves the circulation in the area.
• Just because there’s muscle fatigue doesn’t mean you should stop exercising. On the contrary, it means that there’s progress, but it’s best to do low-impact exercise while you’re still sore.
• Eat an hour after your workout to aid in repairing the muscle damage.
• To replenish the water and nutrients lost during exercise, you can consume sports drink in the middle of your routines, say every 15 minutes.
• Try to avoid exercising the same muscle groups for two days straight. You can cross-train or do a different routine in between.
• Take over-the-counter medications or apply an ointment specifically made to relieve soreness and pain.
• Eat a balanced meal to help your body generate the energy it needs in repairing the microtrauma to your muscles.
• Don’t forget to cool down. Although the effectiveness of stretching in reducing soreness is still up for debate, there’s no downside to actually spending the last few minutes of your workout stretching your aching muscles.
If the discomfort doesn’t hinder you from sticking to your fitness program, it will be more bearable next time you do your routine.
Muscle fatigue and soreness don’t warrant a trip to the emergency room. However, if the pain is debilitating or there’s a massive swelling in an injured area that hinders you from performing activities then you might need to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Fatigue and soreness are normal responses of your muscle when you subject it to a strenuous physical activity. However, it should not dampen your determination to stay fit. When it comes to fitness, the start is usually the hardest; it can only get better.