Sore muscles are a pain that you surely do not want to live with even for a day. However, even if you are a seasoned fitness fanatic or a long time athlete, muscle soreness can still creep into your life and disrupt your daily routine. Soreness of the muscles usually happens to those who are just starting to exercise, but advanced people are not exempted from this painful occurrence. And when it hits you, you ask “does stretching help sore muscles?”
Sore muscles and stretching
The fact is stretching is not a recommended remedy for existing sore muscles. If you are experiencing sore muscles, you must not stretch your muscles or move them for at least two days. It is a common mistake to perform stretching when the muscles are sore. Doing so only increases the pain and lengthens the time for recovery.
What is a sore muscle?
Muscle soreness is actually called, ‘Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness’ or DOMS. It is a normal occurrence especially when you engage in fitness exercises or play sports. Sore muscles happen when you put too much stress on your muscles during a sports game or a workout routine. It usually emerges after six hours of an extremely strenuous activity or overtraining, and typically lasts between 24 and 48 hours. Muscle soreness is painful because the muscle became inflamed.
Common causes of sore muscles
Sore muscles can happen to anyone, and the following are the common reasons why it happens:
- First time to engage in a fitness exercise or workout routine
- Increased level of intensity in a current workout program
- Incorporating a new exercise into a regular workout routine
- Executing the same exercise or any activity repeatedly without adequate rest
The positive side of muscle soreness
The mild to moderate pain of muscle soreness is actually a good thing. When you exercise, your muscles and fibers are stressed and they break down. You do not have to be alarmed when you experience muscle soreness, because it simply means that your body is ready to handle more stress next time. In your next exercise routine, you will notice that your muscles can handle the same stress that caused you muscle soreness previously.
When is muscle soreness not good?
Severe muscle soreness is definitely not good for your health. You will know that it is bad when you cannot perform daily activities since you are feeling too much pain. And muscle pain that last for over 72 hours is a telltale sign that you have overworked your muscles.
It is also good to take note that if you are experiencing muscle pain during your workout or minutes before and after your workout, that is not normal muscle soreness, but it could be something else. It is best to consult a doctor immediately. Remember that muscle soreness occurs at least six hours after your exercise.
Stretches to prevent sore muscles
Though stretches cannot treat sore muscles and is not recommended for treatment, stretching can be performed in order to prevent the occurrence of sore muscles.
Dynamic stretches are warming up exercises that you need to do five minutes before you start your training workout session. These stretches promote a good range of motion, which helps prepare your muscles for the onslaught of high intensity exercises. Dynamic stretches acts as a lubricant to your muscles and joints. Common dynamic stretches are knee to chest stretches, squats, and leg circles. Five minutes of dynamic stretching can save you from hours and days of muscle soreness.
Static stretches are cooling down exercises that are crucial after an intensive workout. Failure to stretch after a strenuous exercise routine can cause sore muscles. Avoid looking for chair to sit in or a mat to lie down in after your typical training routine. Spend five more minutes for a static stretch in order to avoid getting sore muscles hours later.
Tips to avoid sore muscles
Aside from stretching, there are other additional methods to prevent you from experiencing sore muscles.
- Always hydrate – drinking a lot of water is essential when you live an active lifestyle. Do not just hydrate during your workout days. Keep drinking at least 10 glasses of water every day, regardless if you have a scheduled fitness routine or not.
- Posture awareness – be aware of how you handle your body’s posture in your daily life. Sit up straight, do not slouch, and move your body regularly instead of just staying in one position for hours. If your work requires you to sit for eight hours, then simply stand for a few seconds every hour and sit back again. You can also stretch your head and arms even when you work.
- Ice bath – professional athletes engages in ice bathing in order to rejuvenate their muscles after a game or intense training. You can practice the same method to avoid sore muscles.
- Heat up – use a heating pad to apply to your muscles after your day at the gym or from a workout in your home. Doing so will help keep muscle soreness away.
- Drink pineapple juice – pineapple is rich with an enzyme called bromelain. It is abundant with anti-inflammatory components that will help ease your muscles.
What you need to eat to help relieve muscle soreness
There are foods that can help you alleviate the soreness of your muscles.
- Cottage cheese
Muscle soreness can be good or bad. There will be a time when you will be a target of this pain, but you have the option to prevent sore muscles to happen. Execute stretching exercises at least three times a week to avoid getting muscle soreness. Never forget to engage in dynamic and static stretching, and incorporate healthy foods into your daily routine. Remember not to stretch if you have sore muscles, and use stretching only as prevention. And do not take any muscle pain lightly. Consult a doctor.