FIT for LIFE Knowledge Base

What to do about sore muscles?

If you’ve caught a sore muscle, the happy medium works best: gentle exercise.

Sore muscles can affect anyone, no matter how fit and well-trained they are. Muscle soreness develops on the basis of minute injuries to the muscle fibers. The severity of the damage depends on the duration of the muscle load, its intensity, the training condition of the muscles and the proportion of eccentric muscle work (for example, when running downhill).

Typical muscle soreness usually becomes noticeable one to two days after exercise (the second day is usually the worst). The pain subsides after a few days, but the healing time can be several weeks at times. Normally, sore muscles heal without permanent damage.

To prevent muscle soreness, unaccustomed muscular activities (long runs on pavement, running downhill, ball games such as squash) can be done at low intensities, only for a short time at first, and increased in doses. Unfamiliar exercises involving high levels of force should be avoided, as should the forced stretching of tired and heavily used muscles. Light exercise, gentle sports such as swimming or cycling, as well as relaxed massages, warm baths or other heat treatments are suitable for treating sore muscles.

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