Workout Tips For Beginners: Post Workout Pain Relief
One thing I am completely guilty of is taking long extended breaks between workouts. I mean like 2-3 month vacation style breaks. What can I say? My couch is so much more inviting than my treadmill.
You know the drill though, sitting back binge watching Netflix is all fine and dandy, but nothing can get accomplished that way. I can watch as many reruns of Pretty Little Liars as I want, but I'll never achieve those Shay Mitchell body-goals if I don't get up and move my butt.
So I put together a playlist of songs that will keep me going, get on that treadmill and start running like Jason Voorhees is behind me with his infamous machete.
Yay! I did it! I brought myself out of that couch potato funk I was in and got a workout done. I'm sweaty and tired, but I feel good. I take a shower, unwind and then sleep like a rock.
The next morning my alarm goes off and I thought I was going to wake up feeling good, but holy crap...my legs are stiff and feeling like I'm 90. I want to call my grandma and borrow her walker just to get to the washroom.
So yes, it is normal to feel pain when you first begin to work out. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the correct term for this. When you workout a muscle that hasn't been getting much exercise lately it causes micro-tears in your muscle fibers. This means that there is an increased blood flow and inflammation to that area and that particular muscle will be quite sensitive for a little while.
If you are new to working out do not let this discourage you. It will not always hurt, and your muscles will get used to it. (If you do find yourself experiencing the pain for more than 72 hours I would recommend consulting your physician in case there are other issues with your muscles.)
Now, I'm sorry if I scared you. Don't let any of this stop you from working out. Changes are so close if you keep working for them. There are several things you can do to ease the pain, making your workouts easier on your body.
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I am starting off with the number 1 most important thing in this entire article. Hydration. If you only follow one step from this article please make sure you follow this one.
Have you ever had a really busy day and eventually get a strange cramping in your legs or sides? That's generally from dehydration. We're adults, which means sometimes the workday takes over and we forget to hydrate. One meeting too many and we look back and realize that you're running on only hot coffees and iced coffees. Those cramps are your body's way of telling you to hydrate.
Imagine how much worse this can be if you're exercising. Your muscles need you to keep them hydrated if you want them to keep going. Make sure you drink a glass of water before and after your workout. Also keep a water bottle with you during your workout. Get something you can drink out of while you keep moving so you don't have to worry about spilling.
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Stretching is very important before and after every workout. If your goal is to workout for 30 minutes you will need to give yourself 40 minutes to include your stretches.
Your pre-workout stretching should consist of stretches that move your muscles to get them warmed up and prepared to work.
Your post-workout stretching should consist of stretches which you hold so your muscles know it's time to slow down.
I can't see your face, but I can imagine that you're reading this heading for my next tip like I'm some sort of psychopath. You just worked your butt off, you're tired and you've earned the right to relax. It's completely ok for you to sit down and relax, just remember to occasionally move the muscles you just worked out so they don't lock up on you. You can do little stretches from your seat, or occasionally get up and walk around the room. This is why it's not a good idea to workout right before bed either. You want to make sure you're going to be up for a few more hours to keep those muscles lightly moving.
Rule of thumb: Cold now, hot later.
If you're feeling sore right after you workout use a cold compress or take an ice bath (if you're brave enough, I'll stay with an ice pack) to help relieve the pain. If your muscles start to ache later on then use a hot compress (such as a hot water bag or heating pad) or relax in a nice hot bath with some bath salts.
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Food & Beverage:
Certain foods and drinks help with inflammation and those are the ones you'll want to be consuming right now. Pineapple is hella delicious (and belongs on pizza...I don't care what you say!) and it's rich in bromelain which is an enzyme that helps with inflammation. Other natural anti-inflammatory foods are:
- Nuts and almonds
- Leafy greens
There are a few other things you guys should remember for your post workout pain. If you feel like you need to skip a day of exercise because the pain is too high, that is completely normal at the beginning of your fitness journey. Don't fully neglect exercising though. Go outside and get a light walk instead. This will actually help your muscles feel better sooner.
If the pain is interrupting your daily living take an over the counter pain reliever or massage a topical cream onto the affected area.