No pain, no gain is a common saying among gym goers and those who workout outdoors alike. It is for the simple fact that it is true. When doing exercise it is only natural for your body to feel it during, immediately after, or a day or two after your workout. It is one proof that you are doing your training right, or so they say.
Getting through muscle soreness is one of the biggest hurdles that one must overcome during the early days of a training program, regardless of whether or not you are doing it on your own or going through the motions under the supervision of a gym. In fact, if not overcame effectively, it can easily lead to a regression of sorts or a complete halt of your program that you just stop progressing any further.
With that in mind, knowledge is key.
Why Does Muscle Soreness Happen?
It is not simply because of one’s overuse of muscles, although partly true.
Body pains are caused mainly by the small tears that your muscles experience as you go through the motions of your training, and it is perfectly normal because our muscles stretch during regular movement. Only during a strenuous exercise does it stretch too much that they break.
Jacque Crockford, an exercise physiologist and education specialist at the American Council on Exercise said that our muscles undergo an inflammatory response due to the small tears it experienced. However, this normally heals overtime.
He also added however that this is not a good indication of a good workout. So, the saying that goes ‘No pain, no gain’ is not a good motto to go by in terms of your exercise routine.
It is Alright to Push Harder
Our muscles are just like us in a sense that it complains when it is pushed to work harder than they should. This is when muscle soreness happens.
According to Kyle Stull, MS, a faculty instructor at National Academy of Sports Medicine based in Dallas, when stressed, our muscles tend to get sore as it is being stressed, case in point during various training programs. However, this soreness is good, but not to a point where it leaves you incapable of doing your activities of daily living. It is normally temporary as your muscle groups adapt to the stress overtime
Muscles Soreness and Its Delays
Do not be fooled when you do not feel any kind of pain during or after a workout because they might just be setting you up for a world of pain that is beyond your comprehension. When they do, it usually happens 36 hours after the end of your workout.
Stull calls this as delayed onset muscle soreness and it occasionally happens after going through strength training where you focus on eccentric portions. This is when calcium is released forcing your muscles to wake up sending a message to your pain receptors.
Crockford also added that the soreness starts when you try something new. So, avoid doing something new around the house for a while after you abuse your body the day before.
Limiting the Pain is Possible
You do not have to endure extreme pain after a heavy session of resistance or strength training. In fact, there are many ways to reduce its intensity, and some are backed up by research.
For example, drinking caffeine equivalent to two cups an hour before you start working out can reduce the intensity of post workout body pains by at least 50 percent based on a research done in University of Georgia.
It is also good to look into using foam rolling after your workout as your own set of cool down stretches. Foam rolling helps improve the body’s circulation. Although, it may have a different effect after heavy training. Foam rolling is not capable of stopping your body from experiencing soreness after a rigorous day of your workout session, but limits it instead and decreases your overall recovery time.
Do not Stay Still
This is what Stull recommends.
It is important that you remember to do light movements post workout because muscle contraction caused by regular movement helps fluids circulate better around the body. When you stay still, your heart is still able to keep the fluids running which aids with faster muscle recovery, but pumping it throughout the entire body alone may prove to be too much for one muscle to do.. As a result, it takes the recovery process a little bit longer than expected.
Ice Baths After are Not the Norm
There is still a bit more debate that surrounds this though. However, according to a research done in University of New Hampshire, going through the cold stress of ice baths does not necessarily help with future performance nor does it help hasten recovery time.
So, you are free to choose whatever temperature you deem is best for your post workout shower.
Injury Disguised as Post Workout Body Pains
When we workout, we tend to like the feeling of muscle soreness every once in awhile. The pain gives us a sense of accomplishment; a trophy to brag about. However, if the pain does not ease or if it lasts longer than two days without any kind of relief, then it might already be an injury masking itself as post workout body pain.
Stull also added that when body aches are prolonged, if it is not yet an injury, then it might soon become one as it leads to muscle imbalances and overcompensation since we tend to try our best to ease the pain as we move about, keeping our weight off it.
When this happens, the American Council on Exercise recommends to lessen one’s training intensity and let your muscles ease back into it. However, if it still does not loosen after a few days, it is best to rest before your muscles start to feel worse.
Look to the Brighter Side
Essentially, body soreness is an indication that your muscles are adapting to the stress that you are putting on them, but when it is too severe, then it might be time to reduce your program’s intensity. Take time to talk to your trainer in how to adjust your program to effectively compensate for the intense pain that you are experiencing.
On the other hand, this might also be a good time to have the full body massage that you have been putting off. Massage aids in a muscle’s recovery. In addition, it also makes your muscles more efficient after exercise as blood is being circulated directly to the parts of your body that needs it the most.
Eat them Away
Food plays a role in healing your body’s soreness and research has backed three foods or drinks that helps in easing the aches.
Ginger cuts muscle pains by 25 percent. Watermelon juice helps with its L-citrulline amino acid. Lastly, spicy sauces aids in reducing the pain felt by blocking the pain stimulus that is being sent to the brain.
Muscle soreness is normal with any training that you plan on doing. It eventually disappears, but do not let it dictate how effective your workout was. In fact, that is a myth. If pain can be reduced, then let it. Why suffer through unbearable pain when you do not have to?