Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pain After Exercise: Tips to Avoid It

Have you ever felt sore after a vigorous round of exercising or trying out a new exercise program? Then you’ve had experience with DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Although commonly associated with the soreness you feel after overdoing some exercises, DOMS can also be triggered by increased intensity and pace of a physical activity. For example, if you are not used to walking for long periods but did it anyway, you are likely to experience DOMS in your leg muscles.

Characterized by muscle pain, tenderness, soreness, and gradually increasing discomfort that occurs between 24 and 48 hours after physical activity, DOMS can be a very uncomfortable condition. Some people also find it a probable excuse for not continuing with their exercise programs. Caused by the build up of lactic acid in the muscles, DOMS is a condition that can be easily managed and prevented. Here are some tips that can help you deal with DOMS and prevent it:

Wait it out. DOMS usually last from a couple of days to about a week. The soreness induced by DOMS will go away on its own. However, pain lasting for more than a week despite pain-relieving measures should be consulted with a doctor. If the pain is also severe and isolated in an specific area, get yourself checked by your doctor. You may have some broken bones or dislocated joints. Swelling and redness should also be reported.

Warm up and cool down. Warm up by doing stretches prior to doing any exercises. This helps to prime the muscle for more vigorous activities later. Stretches also help prepare your muscles by loosening them up and extending the range of their movements. Cooling down is also important after exercising to ease the build up of lactic acid in the muscles which can trigger muscle pain. Stretching, mild aerobics, deep breathing, and simple yoga are some of the most effective ways to relax the muscles.

Switch to light exercises. If DOMS is triggered by a new, high-impact exercise program, it is better to switch to light exercises until the pain subsides. DOMS usually lasts around two to five days after the activity but that is no reason to quit moving and exercising. Completely stopping any physical activity can induce a worse case of DOMS once you resume training. The best way to continue training without suffering from repeat bouts of DOMS is to gradually increase the intensity of the exercises – not stopping them entirely.

Indulge in massages. The soreness and tightness in DOMS-affected muscles can be alleviated with regular gentle massages. Gentle strokes relax the muscles and ease the tension that caused the muscle fibers to knot. These relaxation techniques can help speed up the release of the lactic acid from the muscles. Massages are also more effective if used in conjunction with heat and cold therapies.

Use NSAIDs. If you can’t bear the pain, you can benefit from using a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug to relieve it. Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen usually work wonders for DOMS. You can get these medications at affordable prices from online pharmacies. Just be sure to consult your doctor or inform him about using the drug to ensure that it will not conflict with other medications you are using.

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