How to Handle Muscle Pains When Starting a New Exercise Routine
Are you a couch potato transforming into a gym rat? You have probably noticed that your muscles are pretty sore since increasing your activity level. Moving your muscles in new ways causes small tears to the muscle fibers, which leads to aching and tenderness hours after your workout. The good news is that you don't have to play through the pain. Here are four ways to handle muscle pains when starting a new exercise routine.
Stretch Before and After
One of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent muscle pain is to stretch before and after your workout. A good stretching routine helps to loosen muscle fibers and prevent the tearing that leads to soreness. Try to stretch for at least ten minutes at the beginning and end of your exercise routine, and focus on one part of the body at a time to ensure that each muscle is thoroughly stretched.
Consult a Doctor
Remember when you had to get a physical to play sports in school? Seeing a sports medicine doctor before beginning a new workout routine is still a good idea. The doctor can let you know if there is any reason to avoid starting a new exercise routine or if you should modify your workouts. They can also advise you on injury prevention and prescribe any medication or equipment you may need. Those who specialize in sports medicine are most likely to be able to quickly recognize the causes of your aches and pains.
Did you know that dehydration can increase muscle soreness after a workout? Water is necessary to maintain your body's electrolyte balance and flush out the lactic acid that builds up in your muscles during exercise. If you're working out hard, water may not be enough to stay properly hydrated. Consider using a sports drink or adding electrolyte tablets to your water bottle for extra hydration.
Muscle soreness and cramps can be exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies, and working out depletes your nutrient stores much faster than sitting on the couch. Having a protein shake after your workout can prevent sore muscles by helping to rebuild the fibers, and turmeric can soothe inflammation better than ibuprofen. Are charley horses putting a cramp in your routine? Try taking a magnesium supplement once or twice a day.
If your muscle pain is severe or persistent, consider slowing down your workouts or taking a rest for a few days. You might think you can walk it off, but continuing to exercise on a very painful muscle can lead to serious sprains that require medical intervention.