No pain, no gain, the exercise motto, is indeed inspiring and true but it can cost your muscles and joints to an extent that you may end up causing chronic or even unrepairable damage to them.
Our muscles are already constantly working while we walking, climbing, standing, all day and when you hit the gym, their responsibilities double up. Although it is true that muscles get stronger by breaking down first but, its the rebuilding process after a workout where the real magic happens. Workout damage the muscle fibers which are then repaired or replaced through a cellular process where the muscle fibres fuse together to form new muscle protein strands or myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and number to create muscle hypertrophy (growth).
Muscle soreness occurs when your gym workout cause micro-tears in your muscle tissue, which leads to delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. Slight swelling, stiffness, reduced range of motions in the affected joints, increased tenderness and reduced strength in the affected muscles are what one may face along with muscle soreness. Typically it should last a day or two but, if you feel ‘I can’t move a bit’ type of pain, then that muscle soreness is something big and bad which needs to be taken care of.
You can either counter gym pain with certain preventive steps or deal with it after with the below muscle pain remedies.
1. Stretch it out
Your muscles contract and the muscle fibers shorten during a workout, stretching them a bit will release the tightness and promote mobility and can lead to a faster recovery. Stretch your muscles until it feels pretty tight, hold for 5-10 seconds and release. If it’s too painful to even think about stretching, skip it.
2. Move it
If your body hurts after your first day at a gym or otherwise, don’t decide to become a couch potato. Of course, the last thing you want to do when everything hurts is to move, but that’s exactly what you need to do. Sore muscles are the signs that your muscles have been stretched, keep it going by moving. Light activities like walking, swimming, yoga etc., which are termed as “Active Recovery,” will increase circulation and improve the blood flow throughout the body that carries nutrients and oxygen required for muscle repair.
We sweat a lot while working out and dehydration can make your muscle soreness and muscle cramps even worse. When muscles break down, they release waste products and toxins that need to be filtered out of the body and nothing better than water can do that job. Hence, it is important to stay hydrated to treat the pain after a gym workout.
4. Ice and Heat it
If there’s swelling – ice it and if it’s simple sore – heat it. Ice reduces inflammation and heat improves blood flow. Alternating ice and heat therapy will speed up the muscle recovery process. You can also take a warm Epsom bath to loosen up the tight muscles.
5. Have protein
Protein is a critical nutrient for building and maintaining muscle, hence your sore muscles need protein to repair itself. People who work out, need for about 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, while for an active person who’s 150 pounds, about 95 to 136 grams per day is necessary.
A 20-minute massage can be an effective muscle pain remedy if done right. Use a foam roller to massage your sore muscles or ask your friend or spouse to give you a good massage to relax the tight sore muscles and soothe muscle aches.
7. Treat it right
Muscle soreness should never be taken lightly. Swelling, cramps, pulled hamstring, anything can follow if muscles are not treated rightly. Hence, it is necessary to check its severity and treat it timely to avoid excess damage. Using an ultrasound and TENS therapy for post-workout pain is said to have proven results of faster muscle recovery.
Whatever it is, don’t stop your workout, get moving and get going!