Whatever the physical activity we practice, we all have to deal with sore muscles. Whether you have been exercising for years or are new to working out, you must experience muscle pain on the next days after a workout. Sore muscles on the next days after exercising is normal and part of the process of getting fitter and stronger.
But muscle pain can affect our daily routine. We all know that feeling of taking the stairs or using the steering wheel to drive on the next day after a workout.
If you are wondering what you can do to help relieve the pain, this post explains what causes muscle soreness and how to relieve sore muscles after a workout.
Why do you feel pain the next day after a workout ?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
DOMS is the name given to the pain that you feel on the next days after a workout. It is caused by the microscopic tear of the muscle fibres which occurs when you are exercising and the pain is usually felt during the next 24 – 72 hours after a workout.
The intensity of the pain is usually greater if you are new to working out, have changed your workout routine or you have increased the intensity of your workout.
When your muscles are required to work in a different way or more than what they are used to, it causes the muscle fibres to tear down before going through recovery and rebuilding themselves. This is the process which causes muscle soreness and pain felt on the next days.
This means that experiencing muscle pain on the next days after a workout is normal and part of the process of getting stronger muscles.
However, DOMS should not be confused with any pain felt during a workout or immediately after exercising as this type of pain is usually referred to as acute muscle soreness or immediate muscle soreness. This type of pain is usually caused by the build up of lactic acid in the muscles and when contracting these muscles. Pain from acute and immediate muscle soreness resolve quickly.
If you experience prolonged muscle pain after a workout, it might be due to a muscle injury, in which case you should see a doctor to receive the best treatment. Muscle injuries can take weeks or months to heal depending on its severity and you would not be able to workout during that time.
How can you relieve sore muscles after a workout ?
Even though nothing has proven to be 100% effective, there are a few things you can try to do to help relieve the pain :
- Ice packs – Using a thin towel to apply the ice against the affected area, this helps to reduce any swelling of the muscles.
- Hot bath – Helps to increase blood circulation and loosen tight muscles
- Applying Arnica ointments or creams – Proven to provide relieve from muscles pain
- Foam Rolling – Stimulates blood flow and helps to speed up the healing process of the muscles
- Wearing compression garments 24 hours after workout – Pressure garments hold the muscles firm and in place and increased blood flow which helps to speed up recovery of the muscles
- Warm up before exercise – Warming up before exercising prepares the muscles for workout and helps reduce muscle soreness and the risk of injury
- Stretching after workout – Stretching the muscle just after intense workout also helps to reduce muscle soreness
Can you prevent muscle soreness ?
Sore muscles are experienced by everyone who works out, even if you have been exercising regularly for years. But the muscle soreness and pain tend to decrease with regular exercising.
Should you workout when your muscles are still sore ?
It is important to understand why you feel pain from sore muscles. The pain is due to microscopic muscle damage. It is important to allow enough recovery time before the muscles can work out at their optimal capacity again.
That does not mean you have to do nothing at all while you experience delayed onset muscle soreness. It is recommended to continue to stay active while the muscles are sore. But be careful because a tired muscle is more easily torn or injured.
You can do light exercises such as walking or a light jogging.
Fitness experts and health professionals all recommend giving your body the rest it need so that the muscles can recover.
Keep staying active but do not do the same intensity workout or same exercises which engage the same muscles which are sore.
When you feel that the muscle pain is reduced and that you can do your daily tasks normally again, gradually start working out again and increasing the intensity of your workouts. Gradually increasing the intensity of your workout helps to reduce muscle soreness over time.
Pole dancing and muscle soreness
As a pole dancing beginner, your first training classes will certainly be followed by muscle pain. The areas most affected as a pole dancing beginner will be your shoulders and arms and also your legs. These are the parts of the body which are the most engaged in pole dancing and the muscles that you will be working out the most.
When I first signed up at the pole studio, I remember I was going to pole on 3 consecutive days a week. This means that my body did not have enough time in between each workout to recover. I was constantly in pain. By the 3rd day of training, I was usually too in pain to do anything properly and would spend most my time leaning against the pole watching the other girls ! This was not effective.
After one month, I switched to 2 days of training a week with 2 days of rest in between. That’s when I really felt like I was learning properly and started noticing progress in my practice.
As time passes by and you have regular training, the muscle pain will decrease. Learning the right techniques and practicing safe workouts for every move on the pole is the best advice I could give as a pole dancer.
Embrace the pain. They say “No pain, No gain.”