How to Relieve Sore Muscles

Relieving Sore Muscles 

Whether you just started a new exercise program, lifted heavier in the gym than usual, just ran a half-marathon, or worked all weekend in the yard; if you live an active lifestyle then you are probably no stranger to muscle soreness. The stiff and achy feeling that you experience 12-48 hours after strenuous activity is known to medical professionals and physical therapists as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. This article will discuss the ins and outs of how to relieve sore muscles. 

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?

DOMS is a result of microscopic tears within muscle tissues, which is what you're creating as a result of your workout or your weekend activity. The associated achy pain and stiffness that you feel is a sign that your body is in a repair state and that the rebuilding and regrowth process known as muscle hypertrophy is taking place.

What Type of Exercise Creates DOMS?

DOMS can result from any type of exercise and is generally at its peak intensity within the first 24 hours. However, eccentric or “negative” exercise is thought to crease delayed onset muscle soreness to a greater degree. During this type of exercise, the muscle is lengthening at the same time that it is contracting, creating increased tension on the muscle fibers. This process it thought to increase the soreness experienced after performing this type of exercise.

How Can Sore Muscles or DOMS be Relieved?

Gentle Stretching: Slow gentle stretching of the affected area can help to relieve sore muscles, joint stiffness and the tight feeling experienced in the muscles. Whether choosing a formalized yoga or Pilates class or just stretching on your own, gentle mobility work can help to relieve muscle soreness

Gentle Movement: Gentle repetitive mobility exercise such as low resistance cycling, aquatic exercise/swimming or simply going for a walk can all help p to relive muscular pain and stiffness. These gentle exercises help to improve blood flow to sore muscles and to decrease joint stiffness and relieve sore muscles. 

Re-Hydrate: Drink fluids to improve muscle hydration by drinking lots of water. Also try to avoid caffeine and alcohol as these can contribute to dehydration.

Warm Bath: Warm water will loosen up tight muscles, increase muscle relaxation, and improve circulation. Improved circulation brings oxygen rich blood to the affected muscles and can help to reduce pain and relieve sore muscles. 

Gentle Massage: Though it may be painful initially, gentle massage from a partner or using self-massage techniques can also help to improve mobility and local blood-flow. The use of a foam roller or self-massage device also helps to speed up the recovery from DOMS and relieve sore muscles. If you have trouble getting a partner to help out, click here for information on medical massage.

Increase Protein Intake: Increasing protein intake helps to supply the rebuilding muscle with the nutrients that it is craving for repair.

What if the Sore Muscles persists?

If extreme soreness persists for longer than the normal 24-72 hours following heavy physical activity, it may indicate a more serious problem. If you are experiencing these symptoms please follow up with your Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute healthcare provider. Your provider will be able to examine you further to rule out more serious problems or conditions. If you want to learn more about this subject, go to: Heat or cold for sore muscles. 

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By: Matt Paulus, MS, ATC

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