We’ve all heard the expression “no pain, no gain” when it comes to exercise.
But is there any truth to this?
When we exercise, we put our muscles under stress, and because of this a certain amount of soreness is considered both normal and natural.
Soreness following a sweat session can tell us what muscles we used, and if we were working at a high enough intensity to result in changes to our body.
We’re a Washington DC physical therapy clinic and we want to help you learn how to deal with the soreness you sometimes experience after a workout.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Causes Muscle Soreness?
In the 24 to 48 hours after exercise, it’s normal to experience delayed onset muscle soreness, also referred to as DOMS.
Muscle soreness is caused because when we exercise, muscles “burn” energy and it’s broken down into lactic acid.
When lactic acid remains in the area where it was “burned”, soreness can result.
Over time, the lactic acid is picked up and carried away by the bloodstream.
This is expected, and it’s not really an issue if it resolves itself in a couple of days.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a terribly pleasant experience.
If soreness lasts longer than a couple of days, you may have experienced an injury, and it’s a good idea to contact a sports and running injuries physical therapist to help.
How To Relieve Muscle Soreness Quicker
So, we’ve established that muscle soreness isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
However, it doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take to help relieve it.
In this section we’ll look at some of the strategies you can use to help limit the soreness you feel following a workout.
1. Active Rest
Active rest is the idea you don’t just stop completely cold after a tough workout.
This can look like walking after a long run, performing the motion of a weights workout without the weight, or cycling at a low pace with low resistance after an intense spin bike session.
If you stop cold after a workout, it can actually make your muscles sorer.
This wind down period can help with post workout pain management.
2. Apply Heat To Muscles
A heat pack can help relieve soreness.
When applied to muscles, heat can help increase blood flow which results in more oxygen getting to the area you’ve just worked out.
If you are using this method, you’ll want to be careful to only use it for up to ten minutes at a time, and avoid falling asleep while using the heat pack.
If you have a history of heart problems, make sure to speak to your primary care provider before using heat to relieve muscle soreness.
3. Post Workout Stretching
When we use muscles during exercise, it causes them to contract.
Ensuring we stretch properly after a workout gives our muscles a chance to lengthen and can relieve tension.
Properly stretching after a workout is often neglected, however, it can play an important role in helping you to avoid post workout soreness.
How To Tell If You’ve Been Working Out Too Hard
While working out is good for us, it’s possible to overdo it.
Some people think “going hard” every day at the gym is the fastest way to see results, but the fact is your body requires rest to heal properly.
Overtraining can actually be counterproductive to the goals of working out, leading to sleeplessness, weight gain, and moodiness.
Next, we’ll take a closer look at some of the telltale signs you’ve been working out too hard.
1. You Feel Significant Pain
While some amount of soreness is good, feeling significant pain isn’t.
Pain can be the result of muscle overuse or a sign of an injury, like a rotator cuff tear or tennis elbow.
If muscle soreness is interfering with your daily activities, and making it hard to perform everyday tasks, this is a sign to tone it down next time you work out.
2. You Feel Moody After
In general, exercise is thought to be a mood booster and a way to promote emotional wellbeing.
So, if you’re feeling moody after a workout, something is probably wrong.
This can result from a combination of factors including overexertion, fatigue, low blood sugar, and dehydration.
If your workouts are leaving you feeling worse off, it may be time to reexamine your approach.
3. You Gain Weight Despite Exercising
This one may seem counter intuitive.
Unless you’re working out with a goal to build major muscles, which can result in weight gain, most people will expect to see some amount of weight loss from exercise.
Overtraining, however, can lead to weight gain, and there are a couple of reasons for this.
Our bodies are very good at conserving energy, so when you go hard at the gym your body may respond by trying to conserve energy later on.
Muscle also weighs more than adipose tissue, also known as fat.
It can also lead to eating more calories than you realize because exercise leaves you feeling hungry.
4. You’re Having Trouble Sleeping
You would think over exercising would be great for your sleep.
You’re tiring yourself out, right?
Why shouldn’t you sleep like a baby after a hard workout?
Although you may feel tired following a workout, however, overtraining can lead to restless sleep and waking up throughout the night.
5. You’re Not Able To Complete Your Workout
Your workout will naturally become harder towards the end of it.
Those last few reps should be difficult, you’ve been working out those muscles and they’re starting to get fatigued.
But if you’ve pushed yourself to a point where it seems impossible to actually complete your workout while maintaining good form (which is important for avoiding injury) then you’ve probably pushed yourself too far.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
Have you been feeling excessive or unusual soreness after your workouts?
Or have you suffered a workout or sports related injury which has led to a reduction in your strength or flexibility?
Are you eager to recover so you can get back to the active lifestyle you enjoy?
We’re Capitol Physical Therapy and we can help.
Book an appointment with one of our qualified physical therapists today.
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005
9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC