Many people have a hard time starting a consistent exercise program, due to the uncomfortable muscle soreness that can occur after strenuous exercise. So, allow me to explain about muscle soreness, how to reduce it once it has come along, and hopefully fill in the blanks for what you might not know.
When you work out, you literally “tear down” muscle tissue (these are microscopic tears – not like a “torn” muscle in the medical sense). During the days after the workout, the muscle begins to rebuild itself; provided it is allowed enough time to recover and sufficient nutrients are provided. This rebuilding process creates a “new” muscle that is more toned and stronger than before. In a nutshell, this is how the entire process of muscular gains take place.
However, this type of pain is different than the burn you feel during the workout and it is different from the pain of an injury. It’s important that you develop the ability to differentiate between the “good pain” of soreness and the “bad pain” of injury. Unless the soreness is so extreme that it is debilitating and prevents you from participating in sports or performing routine tasks (like walking up a flight of stairs!), then next day soreness is GOOD PAIN! It is a sign that you had a good workout – that you trained hard enough to break down muscle tissue. As a result, your reward is going to be stronger more toned muscles. The good news is eventually the soreness will decrease to a very limited amount if the exercising is done regularly.
So how do we reduce the soreness? The best ways that I have found are stretching and some form of cardio work. Stretching the muscle allows it to open up in a sense and for blood flow to re-circulate in that area. Cardio type exercise is also great for the same reason, it allows fresh blood to pump efficiently throughout the body. The lactic acid that may still be accumulated in your muscles will have a chance to disperse and the broken down muscle will have fresh blood to help rebuild and sooth it.
I hope this has helped to clear up any questions or concerns you might have had about muscle soreness and what goes on in our bodies after intense exercise.