You’ve been to gym and you feel great. Just two days later, you have achingly sore muscles. It’s a pain, literally. The muscle soreness that often follows a bout of exertion is one of the main reasons that people drop out of an exercise routine. What causes the aches, and can you prevent them?

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What causes sore muscles?

The main reason you get sore muscles after exercise is that your body is trying to adjust itself to prevent muscle damage. When you exercise, your muscles are subjected to forces that cause tiny tears in the muscle fibres. It’s a normal process that helps your muscles to grow and become stronger. After a workout, the body goes into a state of recovery, repairing the fibres and building new blood vessels to the stressed area. And the really interesting thing is that the recovery period allows your muscles to prepare for more intense activity, and your bone density improves. However, these processes won’t take place unless you allow your body to rest and recover properly.
Which brings us to…

What can be done to prevent the pain?

Well, although post-activity sore muscles cannot be eliminated completely, you can control the discomfort by exercising properly. And, says US fitness and triathlete expert Ben Greenfield, ‘proper post-workout recovery protocols will allow your body to recover more quickly and respond better to your workouts’.

Next time: 10 Tips to help you to beat post-exercise blues

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Acknowledgements & Photo credits

Numerous articles were consulted during the compilation of this feature. We’d like to acknowledge the excellent piece by triathlete and fitness expert Ben Greenfield, which appeared in the Huffington Post.

  1. Photo of West Coast Rock Lobster By Peter Southwood (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Photo courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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