man with back painIt’s the beginning of the Labor Day weekend, so chances are good that you have three days packed with activities. Maybe you’re planning to play a few rounds of golf, go hiking at a state park or go swimming before the pools close for the season. Whatever you’re planning to do, all of that activity may result in muscle soreness.

It’s normal to have sore muscles, especially if:

  • You don’t exercise regularly.
  • You did an activity that you’re not used to doing.
  • You were physically active for a longer time period than you’re used to.
  • You suddenly started exercising at a higher intensity level.

When you work muscles you’ve never worked before, it can lead to tiny microscopic tears in your muscle fibers and connective tissue. About a day later, you’ll begin to feel sore. This pain is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Generally, the pain will peak within 48 hours and gradually get better within a week. As the tears heal, your muscles actually become stronger. Over time, your muscles will adapt to your regular workouts, and you’ll experience less soreness.

Reduce Your Risk of Sore Muscles

To lessen your chance of becoming sore, follow these tips:

  • Warm up your muscles before you workout.
  • Perform stretching exercises afterward.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes.

Treatment of Sore Muscles

To relieve muscle soreness, you can:

  • Apply cold and hot treatments to the affected area to promote circulation and muscle recuperation. Apply ice for 15 minutes and then apply heat for 15 minutes.
  • Try heat on the area (later following the ice) to increase the blood flow to the area.
  • Take acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain.
  • Try light massage the muscles to reduce tightness and promote blood flow.
  • Try gently stretching the muscles to relieve tightness and diffuse the pain.

If you experience sudden severe muscle pain or your pain lasts for more than a few days, this may indicate a more serious injury. You should see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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