By Kim Duke

NETA & AAFA Certified Trainer

We all know that daily exercise is invaluable to keeping our bodies strong and functional.  The old saying, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,”  well, turns out that saying is completely true. You may not feel this way in your youth but as you age, the less you do physically, will play a detrimental role in how you age.              

This being said, starting an exercise program can be challenging. Making the time to exercise, creating a balanced routine, and setting goals are hard enough, but add to that the muscle soreness that comes with adapting to that regimen, and it may be difficult to stay on track.                                                                               

After participating in some kind of strenuous physical activity, particularly something new to your body, it is common to experience muscle soreness, say experts. “Muscles go through quite a bit of physical stress when we exercise,” says Rick Sharp, professor of exercise physiology at Iowa State University in Ames. “Mild soreness just a natural outcome of any kind of physical activity. And they’re most prevalent in beginning stages of a program.”

Exercise physiologists refer to the gradually increasing discomfort that occurs between 24 and 48 hours after activity as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and it is perfectly normal. “Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a common result of physical activity that stresses the muscle tissue beyond what it is accustomed to,” says David O. Draper, professor and director of the graduate program in sports medicine/athletic training at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.                  

No one is immune to muscle soreness. Exercise fanatics and body builders alike experience delayed onset muscle soreness. But for the deconditioned person starting out, this can be intimidating.     

So what can you do to alleviate the pain? “Exercise physiologists and athletic trainers have not yet discovered a panacea for DOMS,” says Draper. “However, several remedies such as ice, rest, anti-inflammatory meds, massages, and stretching after your workout have been reported as helpful in the process of recovery.

“People don’t stretch enough,” he continues. “Stretching helps break the cycle,” which goes from soreness to muscle spasm to contraction and tightness. However, with the appropriate rest and repair time, your muscles will adapt to the increased load and lead to improved strength and fitness.  Plus, just as your muscles adjust and get stronger with each workout, your body’s ability to modulate soreness/inflammation within appropriate levels also gets better. This means you can work out harder overtime and recover faster.

Your goal should always be to train hard enough to stimulate gains in your fitness level and then to back off and let your body adapt to the gains. 

Remember— Where there is no struggle, there is no strength. You will NEVER REGRET WORKING HARD!