Exercise Aftermath: Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness

The other day, I asked my husband if he remembers being sore all the time in high school.  He squinted his eyes a little, thought about it for a few seconds, and said, “Yeah, I guess so.”  Not exactly a resounding yes, but close enough.

I remember always being sore during high school – during the school year, at least.  In those days, I was involved in a lot of activities: dance, ringette, badminton, volleyball, judo, gym class, band (okay, so band not a physical activity).  And I realized the other day that those days have returned.

I returned to regular exercise at the end of May 2009, working with a few trainers at my gym over the summer.  I lost ten pounds, increased my fitness level, and developed a fitness habit – fairly easy to maintain that summer with the kids in daycare and me not working or in school (definitely a luxury that most moms don’t have; indeed, the kids were home with me this summer!).  Then the school year started again and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to stick with it.  The trainers I had enjoyed working with at the gym had moved on, and the latest one just wasn’t my cup of tea.  So I asked a couple of my very fit friends if they knew any personal trainers, and one recommended my current trainer, Lindsay, saying that several of her friends had worked with her and she was awesome.

In September, I started meeting my current trainer once a week.  In addition to kicking my butt in the gym, she gave me workouts to do – a high-intensity mix of strength and cardio.  I committed to working out on my own twice a week, for a max of an hour, and usually around 45 minutes – each time.  As a mom and dental student, my schedule is pretty busy, so I felt that I could commit to this, but was leery of trying to fit in more.

Fast forward almost a year, and here I am, having finished my first sprint triathlon, training for my first half marathon, down another twenty pounds (with a little help from my nutritionist), working out four to six times a week, and feeling pretty darn fit.

This brings me to the point of this post (finally!).  I am pretty much ALWAYS sore.  That’s a good thing, because it means I’m still working out hard and my trainer is definitely doing her job.  Still, if there’s any way for me to work out hard and avoid or decrease the delayed-onset muscle soreness I’m experiencing, I’d like to know about it!

What I Learned in My Google Search:

  1. WebMD says there’s no “cure,” but several things can help, including icing, rest, anti-inflammatories (e.g., Advil), massage, heat, and stretching.  They also say that it’s a sign that you’re body is getting stronger, so that’s a good thing.  Click here for the whole article.
  2. This review, however, says that studies show that stretching ISN’T effective in preventing muscle soreness – which isn’t to say you shouldn’t do it for other reasons, like preventing inflexibility and injuries.
  3. This article from Lookgreatnaked suggests that light activity can help.  Massage may also be useful for some people.
  4. Or, maybe massage DOESN’T help, according to SaveYourself.ca.
  5. And apparently epsom salts don’t help either.  See this article for a pretty detailed discussion on this topic.
  6. Be careful in your use of anti-inflammatories like Advil.  This article from Runner’s World says not to take it before or during exercise and suggests it may impair soft-tissue injury repair if taken long-term.

To Sum Up:

Based on the (little bit of) research I did online, nothing really gets rid delayed-onset muscle soreness.  Light activity, anti-inflammatories, and massage may help you feel better, but the gist of it is that only time can fully resolve the problem.  Guess I’ll stick to my approach, which generally involves a hot bath, stretching after my workouts, icing store spots, and Advil when I’m extra achy.

Do you have any post-workout rituals that you find help you deal with delayed-onset muscle soreness?  Or do you take a “time heals all wounds” approach?


2 thoughts on “Exercise Aftermath: Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness

  1. Wendy @ Seriously Sassy says:

    Wow, you are one busy (and sore) lady! But I know what you mean about the soreness not necessarily being a bad thing. I hope you get it nipped soon, though. I love all your info about running! I’m into a lot of different kinds of workouts and am planning to incorporate running a bit more. Got some new Saucony’s over the weekend. Must break those puppies in, right? 🙂
    Come visit my blog when you have a minute!


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