So you’ve decided to focus on getting a little healthier and you start an exercise programme. Your first workout goes great, and you’re really proud of yourself. That is, until the next morning when you’re so sore you can barely get out of bed. You ask yourself: “What happened? Did I do something wrong? Did I do too much?”
Don’t let muscle soreness after a workout get you down. Best believe me when I say it happens to most of us, if not everyone. This is one of the reasons why I personally quit gym a few times, until this year where I got back and let’s just say I’m doing pretty well.
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Muscle soreness is a side effect of the stress put on muscles when you exercise. It is commonly called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or Doms, and it is completely normal. Doms usually begins within 6-8 hours after a new activity or a change in activity, and can last up to 2-4 days after the exercise. The muscle pain is due to inflammation within the muscle, which is one of the main triggers for this muscle soreness.
All people are at risk of muscle soreness, even body builders and other professional athletes.
The good news is that normal muscle soreness is a sign that you’re getting stronger, and is nothing to be alarmed about. During exercise, you stress your muscles and the fibres begin to break down. As the fibres repair themselves, they become larger and stronger than they were before. This means that your muscles will be better prepared to handle the stress the next time you work out.
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It sounds like muscle soreness is a positive thing, but here’s where it can get a little complicated.
Mild to moderate muscle soreness is common and generally harmless. On the other hand, severe muscle soreness can be damaging and dangerous. It’s important to know the difference between reasonable muscle soreness caused by exercise, and pain due to overuse or muscle injury.
If the pain begins during or immediately after the exercise, it is not normal. Pain that occurs during an exercise is a sign that there is a problem with the exercise. This type of pain should be seen as a signal from your body to stop the activity before serious joint or muscle damage occurs. If this happens while you are at the gym, please ask one of the trainers to advise with how you’re working out. They are trained and know best.
More about the expert:
Letshego Zulu is a qualified biokineticist and cofounder of PopUpGym. Follow her on Instagram: @letshego.zulu; Twitter: @letshegom; Facebook: Letshego Zulu
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