Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

After Exercise Care

Photo by Karsten Winegeart

We have all had those really great work-outs where we feel amazing afterwards…until the next day…then those muscle aches and soreness sets in.

This is called delayed onset muscle soreness(DOMS) and is normal after a new exercise or taking a familiar exercise up a notch. DOMS occurs about 12-24 hours following a work-out due to small microtears of the muscles. The muscle fibers due build back following these tears and recover and become stronger.

With time(few days to about a week), the muscle pain and soreness will go away. In the meantime, there are some things you can do:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Continue with light activity-yes, you are sore but don’t just sit on the sofa, you need blood flow to your muscles to help in healing. Do light activity such as walking and stretching exercises
  • Make sure you eat protein-protein is needed to build back your muscle
  • Local pain relief such as heat therapy or cold therapy-for example, a warm shower
  • Massaging tender areas with your hands, foam roller, or massage gun
  • OTC anti-infammatory medication if you are really sore, but be cautious with this. Get yourself checked out with a doctor if you have to take OTC medications for more than a couple of days to make sure you don’t have a bigger injury.

It is sometimes hard to prevent DOMS from occurring but some things that may help or reduce the risk:

  • Don’t forget that 10 minute warm-up before your work-out and 10 minute cool down
  • Go slow with a new exercise routine and build up to the intensity you would like gradually
  • Hydrate yourself with plenty of water
  • Have recovery days where you do light activity such as walking, hiking, yoga, etc

Remember, the most important thing is you keep working on physical fitness and make it a part of your lifestyle.