Whether you suffer from chronic pain or merely want to maintain the physique you had in your twenties, you know that a vigorous exercise regimen can work wonders. Not only will a challenging workout help you keep the pounds off and build strength, it will also boost your body’s production of endorphins, natural pain killers that promote your mood.
There are many benefits to staying active, but there are some unpleasant side effects as well. Among the most painful is muscle pain. Muscle pain is most common among people who overexert themselves, especially if they are just starting a new exercise program, but it may also result from ailments like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or influenza. If you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, severe muscle weakness or high fever along with your muscle pain, see a physician.
In most cases, however, muscle pain is likely to develop within 12 to 24 hours after a taxing workout, and this pain may remain with you for several days. Soreness should disappear on its own, but there are ways to speed up this process if you are feeling uncomfortable.
One of the easiest ways to pain manage muscle soreness is to massage the affected area. Many kinds of manual manipulation can help reduce inflammation, improve circulation to expedite healing, and loosen tight muscles. Unlike pain medications that may reduce inflammation but retard the healing process, massage actually promotes healing by limiting the production of cytokines, key chemicals that inhibit cellular repair.
Another popular method of relieving post-workout pain is the application of heat to sore muscles. When you place heating pads on sore areas or soak in a hot jacuzzi, the heat loosens stiff muscles and improves blood flow to torn muscle fibers. However, you should wait until you have cooled off from your workout before applying heat because immediate application may aggravate inflammation.
Stretching or Yoga
A proven technique for recovering from a tough workout is to engage in some minor exercise. Light exercise like stretching or yoga will loosen muscle tissue, flushing out lactic acid which is one of the primary causes of soreness. You should focus on enhancing flexibility during these recovery workouts rather than burning calories; the improved muscle elasticity will help prevent muscle pain from future workouts.
One way of treating sore muscles you may not have considered is drinking coffee before you work out. A study in the Journal of Pain found that athletes that used caffeine cut their muscle soreness by more than 50 percent. Not only does drinking coffee hydrate your muscles—an important way to counteract potential soreness—but the caffeine is also a mild pain killer that can take the edge off of any muscle pain. [**note: It was once thought that coffee caused dehydration].
Modify Your Diet
A final thing to consider in your fight against sore muscles is your diet. A diet rich in natural, nutritious foods is the basis for good health and faster healing. Several studies suggest that foods high in antioxidants like tart cherries can help relieve muscle pain.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
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