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Post-Workout Aches and Pains

Suffering from Post Workout Aches?

Getting your full beast mode on during a workout is absolutely satisfying even though you know the full body soreness you’ll get the day after. But imagine doing your whole workout routine without feeling that your body is dying from post-workout soreness. Perfect, right? You can almost hear yourself saying: What’s the catch?

Of course it’s possible to reduce post-workout soreness. But here’s the catch – it’s unavoidable. Everyone becomes sore after a strenuous exercise, even body builders have one. Although, it can be very manageable and can be minimized so you won’t feel as much pain as that bone-numbing pain that is  post-workout soreness. All you need is to know the science behind your muscles. Maybe you’ll even get away without having to deal with an achy body the day after.

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What is post-workout soreness?

Post-workout soreness is medically termed Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. DOMS is basically referring to the gradually increasing discomfort that occurs within 24 to 48 hours after a strenuous physical activity.

It’s Not Lactic Acid

Contrary to popular belief, most people thought that the soreness after working out is caused by lactic acid accumulation in the muscles. This theory was proven untrue. Lactic acid is the cause of the burning sensation we feel while working out and is the reason we go limp right after lifting weights. However, scientists discovered that lactic acid is so easily flushed out from muscles that it’s not cause of that dull, aching sensation we all feel the day or two after exercising.

What Causes DOMS?

Recent studies have shown that post workout soreness is actually caused by small microscopic tears in the muscles. It is a form of mild injury or strain with some inflammation along the muscle fibers which causes the pain we feel. Bodybuilding is the process of breaking down muscle fibers so the body will rebuild them stronger.

Sore Muscles = Body Under Construction

How to reduce DOMS

Ease up. Go Easy on Your Body

Trying out a new workout routine can be exciting but it’s best to ease into it slowly. Let your body adapt to the change of routine to avoid that bone-deep pain of post-workout soreness. This way, your muscles will adapt without excessive strain and the post-exercise soreness will be more manageable.

General Rule of Thumb

If you’re having DOMS to the point of having a hard time walking, or lifting that coffee mug, you probably worked out too hard. If you’re a serious bodybuilder, that may be what you need to do. For most exercisers keen on building strength and muscles definition without bulk, that degree of intensity is not necessary. As you progress in your fitness plan, you will become more familiar with how to push hard enough to experience muscle soreness, which means you’re building muscle, but without the intensity of DOMS.

Keep Moving

With a stiff and aching body, it’s very tempting to move as little as possible. That’s a bad idea. Minimizing your body movements will only extend the suffering period.

The best way to treat DOMS is to increase the blood flow to your muscles.

This hastens tissue repair and the flushing out of accumulated debris, and the best way to do that is to get moving doing light exercise. You can do light cardio, such as walking—start slow, then increase to a brisk pace as your body warms up and becomes noticeably less sore—stretching (after you’re warmed up), and yoga.

Always Stretch During Cool Down

Don’t forget to cool down after a workout. Whether you end up with just muscle soreness, or intense DOMS, it won’t be as bad if you cool down and stretch thoroughly, post workout. A proper cool down, that includes dynamic and static stretching is one way of increasing blood flow to the strained muscles. A cool down provides the body with a smooth transition from exercise back to a steady state of rest and normal body temperature. Gradually reducing your breathing and heart rate while stretching in the cool down process aids muscles to return to their optimal length-tension relationship, hence managing the injured muscles more efficiently and reducing a painful post-workout soreness.

Treatment for Sore Muscles and DOMS

Topical Ointments

There are products to help minimize the pain of muscle soreness and improve recovery. Most of these ointments work by creating a pain-relieving and cooling sensation, increasing blood flow, or displacing elevated calcium levels.

MTF Fave: Tiger Balm


Massaging and applying a steady amount of pressure to the sore muscles can flush out excess pain-generating inflammatory fluids. Using a foam roller is really helpful in alleviating pain.

MTF Fave: Foam Roller


Hot and cold compress

An alternating hot and cold compress can help you avoid muscle pain and repairs muscles much faster. Applying ice packs on your sore area for 20-30 minutes reduces swelling and inflammation. Do this every 6 hours for the next two days or until swelling subsides. Then switch to hot pack the day after for 10 minutes, this would help relax the injured muscles and relieve pain.

MTF Fave: Hot & Cold Compress by Ace


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness,
Lactic Acid – Lactate and Exercise
Sore Muscles? Don’t Stop Exercising,
5 Ways to Reduce Post-Workout Soreness,
How Can You Prevent Soreness?,
Why is it Important to Cool Down,
How to Relieve Muscle Pain,

PRODUCTS – On Amazon
Tiger Balm Red Extra Strength Pain Relieving Ointment
Foam Roller, by Master of Muscle (our favorite because it has the added “bumps” that can dig in deeper)
Foam Roller with Online Instructional Videos, Orange, by Trigger Point Performance, (best seller on Amazon)
Hot & Cold Therapy, Gel Pack, by Adalid Gear
Hot & Cold Compress, by Ace

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Hey there! I’m a freelance writer and I write fitness/health articles. I have a BS in Physical Therapy. So far, this has helped me a lot in writing health articles. I’m an avid reader and I really like writing.

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