Treating Muscle Soreness After Exercise

Doctors and fitness enthusiasts alike have talked about the phenomenon called delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. It's a common issue in the body of those who exercise more than they're used to. Still, it might also be experienced by anyone who doesn't typically stress their muscles as much yet puts them through strenuous activity regardless. Doctors suggest that DOMS is caused by inflammation accompanied by small tears in our muscle fibres.

DOMS often sets in for most people the next morning after a particularly arduous workout or a day or two afterwards. DOMS often peaks from 24 to 72 hours from the initial event before subsiding; symptoms can include muscle aches and swelling, as well as stiffness and soreness.

Treatment focuses on reducing inflammation and allowing a sore muscle to heal properly. The treatments that some athletes say have helped them may or may not have been studied well enough to know whether they are effective, but there is still no harm in trying to see if they work.

Several treatments exist for this common complaint and vary from person to person. Some people deal with pain relief naturally after rest and water intake. In contrast, others need specific pain medications or professional help along with a special diet designed for their doctor or nutritionist, depending on their needs.

Here are some common treatments and the rationale for their effectiveness.

Massage

Massage therapy stimulates blood flow, alleviates swelling, and generally reduces discomfort within the muscleʼs tissue. Massage can help to prevent various aches and pains by alleviating soreness and improving circulation.

There are many ways to handle stress in your life. For instance, there's a technique that's enjoyed by many athletes in particular called foam-rolling, which is essentially a form of self-massage where you use a high-density roller to place pressure on the muscles for effect known as myofascial release. Many have found this extremely helpful at relaxing and stretching out the muscles that have been worked very hard because it helps improve blood flow and brings nourishment directly to the tissues surrounding your muscles.

Gentle Stretching

Scientists have proposed that taking a few minutes to stretch after running or another activity will help prevent soreness, but specific evidence has not backed the theory. But many people are still convinced: for example, studies suggest that athletes who do regular stretching report less soreness than those who do not. Plus, there's no evidence to suggest that a good stretching routine could hurt you.

If you want to try some stretching, we recommend it! As it may help and probably won't hurt. But it would be best if you also remembered to be relaxed and comfortable.

Heat

Heat application can help relax a tense, stiff muscle. When participating in active recovery, heat application before exercise can also help ensure the muscle is warm and loose. The warmth will also increase blood flow to the area and allow for faster healing results in as little as 3 days.

Heating pads help to relieve body stiffness. Stiffness pain occurs when muscles, ligaments, joints, and tendons cannot move freely. They become entangled and create discomfort as a result. The muscles inflate with blood, and the connective tissues compress while the body is active. As a result, muscles get stiff while the stretch of the connective tissues. All of this can make it difficult to move. However, with the correct heating pad, you can alleviate the discomfort.

Topical Creams

Topical analgesic heat rubs include Aspercreme, BenGay and IcyHot. These products are a type of counterirritant, which means that they don't warm-up or cool down the muscles themselves but rather cause the sensation of feeling warmer or cooler in your skin. The sensation is caused by a substance (the medicine) that irritates nerve cells and helps send pain signals to the brain, thus masking them with other sensations.

These rubs do not affect the muscle and do not change the skin's temperature. Rather, they can encourage the perception of pain relief by essentially distracting from the underlying issue.

Cold Therapy

For centuries, cold water has been used for many physical ailments but primarily pain relievers. From easing headaches to reducing swelling and bruising, cold therapy is a proven method to deal with many different kinds of skin ailments. Many athletes have also discovered relief from cold therapy like ice baths or cold packs applied directly to the affected area. And while there are still some who say that this type of treatment doesn't do anything except temporarily distract you from feeling the symptoms associated with overuse injuries like delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), studies have shown that properly cooled muscles and joints recover more quickly than that left at room temperature.

Inflammation occurs when your immune system is trying to heal an injured or infected area of your body. A cold sack on the affected part helps reduce inflammation by constricting the blood vessels, which reduces the amount of fluid in the tissue. It can be very effective and ideally should be kept on for 15 minutes to half an hour, and in most cases, cold sacks should be used several times a day. It's also important not to overdo it as this can cause more damage than help you feel better!

Active Recovery

Active recovery is a method athletes can use to speed up the recovery process after an intense day of playing or competing. It means you do a less strenuous activity than the one which made you sore. Suppose you're feeling wiped out after playing basketball, for example. In that case, it might be a good idea to go for a walk instead of doing downhill skiing that same day because it's not exactly like the previous activity.

Active recovery stimulates blood flow to the muscles and helps reduce muscle pain while maintaining an athlete's conditioning. The key to this exercise is not how hard you're working but rather how light or easy your movements are.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Muscle soreness from routine exertion is a pain, but thankfully some medications can help with that - like ibuprofen. Unfortunately, you can't just pop a pill and be rid of that muscle pain. The medicine won't make your muscles feel better any faster; it will only relieve some of those discomforts. If you are struggling with the pain, then take some time off to heal and be sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night as that may help reduce the severity of your symptoms too!

Rest

Stressed muscles are an often-overlooked problem, but they tend to happen frequently in some people. Luckily, there are easy ways that even the least active person can ensure they don't suffer the aches and pains that may come with sore muscles. As Mayo Clinic points out, one way to relieve your muscle tension is by getting enough relaxation time because we know how much of a struggle this actually can sometimes be. For example, rather than force yourself to go out for a run or head over to the gym every night after work, why not consider another option? It will prevent your muscles from becoming overworked and tired, which could cause severe discomfort elsewhere. After all, resting and relaxing is something we need more of in modern life.

"This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your physician to determine a treatment plan that is right for you."

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