Okay, so you started running, and following a good running guide, and then the next day you wake up and can barely walk because your muscles are sore and achy! What now? I did something like this a week ago when I went for quite a long run in the morning, and in the afternoon I played football with my kids. And I payed for it the entire next week. I could hardly walk for two days, and was sore for about a week.
What Causes Muscle Soreness?
Muscle soreness, which is also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), is caused by exerting your muscles beyond what they are normally used to. For runners, DOMS is caused from either running faster or longer than you are used too. Or it could be due to running on hills or doing speedwork. Usually, you will feel sore muscles the next morning or two after you do some intense workout, and it will take another few days to wear off. If it takes more than a week to wear off, then you need to see a doctor because it could be serious.
Soreness can actually happen during a workout or it can be the delayed kind. Muscle soreness that occurs during your workout is due to the impact and stress being put on your muscles. In other words, your muscles are becoming shock absorbers for the impact. To prevent soreness during a workout, try to limit running on hard pavement, and try to run in good shoes. If you experience pain during a run, make sure that you listen to your body. There is a difference between the aching of a muscle due to impact, and the sharp pain of a sprain or strained muscle. if you begin to feel the latter, then you need to back off and walk the rest of the way home. If it is the first, then you may still need to take it easy, but perhaps you can push through it a bit.
If you find yourself with muscle soreness of any kind, then here are some ways to deal with the pain.
Be Active: One of the worst things you can do to get rid of soreness is just sit around the house and be inactive. It is better to do some light exercise or cross training to get blood flowing and warm the muscles up. If you follow the schedule in this blog, you will note the ‘off days’ are actually walking days. If you do some light walking on these days, this will help to loosen muscles and get rid of the soreness.
- Wait it Out: On the other hand, sometimes time is the best way to heal the wounds. As I noted, you will feel the soreness a day or two after the workout, and it should taper off after another few days. While this does not mean you should passively wait it out, it does mean that with time your body will heal itself.
- Take a Cold Bath. This will help flush out impurities, and keep the swelling down. Just fill the tub with cold water, and sit for 10 or 15 minutes. You can use this anytime, but shortly after the run will produce the most benefit. You can also use an ice pack to address particular spots. I really have never tried sitting in a tub with cold water, and could not imagine it, but I hear it works!
- Get Some Heat: After 24 hours have passed you can go ahead and put some heat on the sore muscles. Feel free to take a warm bath or use a heat pad to ease the soreness. This is my personal favorite option for pain relief. It is also a good time to get some peace and quiet in the house.
- Get a Massage: If you have been looking for an exude to get a massage, then this might be your solution. Massage therapy has been proven to help with muscle soreness. According to Runner’s World:
Researchers in Australia found that sports massage may help reduce muscle soreness by as much as 30 percent.
They go on to report that the massage helps to increase blood flow and circulation to the damaged area.
- Take a Pill: If you are in severe pain, and just need to get some relieve, then you may consider taking a pain relief pill such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), or Alleve. These will help with the pain relief, but they can cause the muscle repair to actually take longer.
Of course, as the adage says, prevention is the best medicine. So, what can be done to prevent or minimize muscle soreness and DOMS? First, you should continue to warm up and cool down before and after each exercise, which includes proper running stretching and stretches. Next, try to increase your intensity and duration no more than 10 percent per week. Finally, understand that muscle soreness is a part of the game. If you want to make improvements in your fitness and your weight, you will have some soreness. Hopefully you will learn to cope with the soreness, and will be able to minimize the amount of soreness you get each time.
What Do You Think?
What is your best coping strategy for Muscle Soreness?