Don't Stop Exercising! Find Relief for Your Sore Muscles!
Recently, my wife and I started the Body for Life weight Loss Program. Basically, all you do is eat foods that are on the "allowed" list and exercise….a lot! That's a bit of an oversimplified description but so far, so good. Body for Life is definitely not a "quick fix" however, any diet or weight loss program that claims to be probably isn't worth doing as you will most likely gain your weight back and then some (trust me, I KNOW!). The only diets that truly work are in fact, not diets at all! They are programs that teach you how to eat healthy…for the rest of your life!
One thing that I wasn't expecting was the muscle pain that follows approximately one to two days after each intense work-out! Now I don't know why the muscle pain and soreness is so surprising to me…after all, I have not worked out with weights for quite some time. I guess I was in denial…and didn't want to think about it! Muscle pain can strike any of the more than 600 muscles in your body…especially if you shock them and start an intense exercise program that your muscles are not used to. If you suffer from muscle pain, don't worry (and don't give up your exercise program) there are things you can do to ease the pain.
Ice is one of the first things that people reach for when they injure themselves. If you have an extremely sore muscle…ice it! Simply put ice in a plastic bag, wrap it in a towel (never put ice directly on the skin) and place it on the affected area for twenty minute intervals. If you do this on and off through-out a twenty-four hour period…you should begin to feel some relief.
Rest! (yes, you are allowed)
Every time you work-out you are, in a sense, injuring your muscles. It takes approximately 48 to 72 hours for your muscles to heal completely. The soreness that you feel after an intense work out actually means that your muscles have been damaged. It is very important that you allow your muscles to heal for a few days after each work-out. Therefore, if you wish to work-out every day, it is best to alternate muscle groups so that you are never working the same muscle two days in a row. In reality, the amount of rest you will need depends on how "stressed or damaged" the sore muscle actually is. Use your best judgment and if you are concerned or have questions, talk to a professional trainer or even your physician.
Wow, You're Hot!
When treating a sore muscle, you should almost always start with ice (unless directed to do otherwise by a healthcare professional or personal trainer). Many people prefer to "heat a muscle" as it feels better…more relaxing than ice. Heat actually dilates your blood vessels which in turn, promotes healing. One important note regarding heat…do not switch from ice to heat too soon as this can actually cause swelling. Allow ample time between cooling and heating sessions. If ice treatments seem to do the trick, by all means, bypass the heat all together.
Pop a Pill & Stretch it Out!
Many over the counter medications can, in fact, help to ease your pain. Any medication that contains an anti-inflammatory ingredient such as ibuprofen or aspirin should have you feeling better in no time.
I know, I know, the last thing you want to think about when you are suffering from sore muscles is moving and stretching. However, moving and stretching your body actually promotes healing and in fact, will make you feel better…faster! Muscles that are injured during exercise actually shorten as they heal. It is very important that shortened muscles are stretched out or they will remain tight and painful. And that my friends is why it is so IMPORTANT to stretch BEFORE and AFTER your work-out.
Rub Some Heat on it!
Though heat rubs (such as Tiger Balm) are quite popular when it comes to sore muscles, you should use caution when applying these types of products. If used in excess or too often…they can, in fact, irritate your skin and make your situation worse. Most experts agree that heat rubs don't really work and only make you THINK that you feel better. Why? Well, well products such as Tiger Balm and Icy Hot don't really heat the muscle…only the skin. If you have a sore muscle and a heat rub product feels good…by all means, use it. Just be sure to read and follow the directions to avoid complications.
Go Ahead, Massage Me!
Massage works wonders on sore muscles! If you can afford a professional massage…go for it! If not, beg your significant other to lend a hand. Oh, and by the way, it is a good idea to heat the area that is to be massaged…helps to loosen up the muscle a bit faster. If you experience pain while being massaged…stop as the massage may cause more harm than good.
Call me crazy…but I like the feeling of sore muscles after an intense work-out….makes me think that I'm actually accomplishing something (which hopefully, I am!). If you have recently started a weight loss program don't become discouraged if you develop sore muscles after exercise. Keep at it and don't give up! Here's to exercise, healthy eating and yes, even sore muscles!