Have you worked up a lot in the gym? Or have you just completed a move? The chances are that you will have muscle pain in the days after. We tell you everything you need to know about muscle pain. Read on.
What is muscle pain?
Muscle pain has the function of protecting the muscles against overload. This is usually also the cause of muscle pain. Overloading your muscles will damage them. During the recovery of your muscles, a mild inflammatory reaction occurs. This gives a recognizable painful, cramped, or stiff feeling. Muscle pain often goes away on its own within a few days.
Are you unsure about the cause of the muscle pain? Or are your complaints not resolved within a few days? Then consult your doctor.
Is muscle pain necessary for building muscle mass?
You don’t have to get muscle pain to build muscle. Especially if you exercise regularly, you will have less muscle pain and still grow muscle. Conversely, muscle pain is not always an indication of muscle growth. For example, if you have had a football game that your body is not used to, you can also have a lot of muscle pain without gaining muscle mass. Your body also has a limited capacity to recover. If you make too much effort, the recovery can take longer, and you can even break down more than you build up. Fortunately, this will not happen so quickly for the average athlete.
How does muscle pain arise?
Muscle pain can have various causes:
The most common cause of muscle pain is straining. You can overload your muscles by exercising, but also by other forms of (heavy) physical exertion. For example, do odd jobs, gardening, or moving house. Muscle pain can also be the result of a bruise or fracture. Within the scientific literature, a distinction is made between three types of muscle pain from overload: acute muscle pain, muscle pain from a bruise or rupture, and delayed muscle pain.
Acute muscle pain
Acute muscle pain is the muscle pain that you immediately feel when you exercise. You can think of when your legs sour. It is important not to train too deeply in the acidification. This is often a sign that you are training too hard.
Muscle pain from a bruise or rupture
This is the result of a bruise or a crack. It is especially important with this form of muscle pain to stop exercising and take a rest. If the pain persists, it is advisable to contact a physiotherapist or your doctor.
Delayed muscle pain
The third variant is delayed muscle pain. The delayed muscle pain lasts about a few days and can last up to a week. You usually notice delayed muscle pain only after 24 hours. The most severe pain follows after about 48 hours.
Muscle pain is a common and characteristic symptom of the flu. In that case, muscle pain is caused by an accumulation of waste products in your muscles that your body cannot properly drain.
The use of certain medications can involve muscle pain. Examples include medications for high cholesterol and medications for high blood pressure.
Severe muscle pain after exercise makes you feel that you have had a good workout. No pain, no gain. However? That is not entirely true. Even if you have mild muscle pain, you can have an effective workout behind you. Moreover, if you have so much muscle pain that you can no longer exercise the days after, it will not benefit your sports results. It is much more important to exercise every day or every other day, instead of completely exhausting your body once a week.
Are you allowed to exercise if you have muscle pain?
The answer to this question is yes and no. If you have muscle pain, it is important that you give your muscles a chance to recover by taking a rest. It is, therefore not wise to load the same muscle group for several days in a row. For example, do you often have that you can barely walk the next day after squats? Then that is a sign that you may have overloaded the muscles and perhaps overloaded them. In general, you should be able to train at a normal level again after two to three days and be at least as strong as last time. It is possible that you have less strength, for example, due to a bad night’s sleep.
What about exercising with delayed muscle pain?
Exercising once with some muscle pain is not a problem, but it is unwise to do this every week. If this happens too often, the muscle damage increases, which can lead to overload and no training progression.
Do you still exercise with muscle pain?
Do you still want to exercise with muscle pain? Then choose a light (cardio) workout, such as walking, swimming, cycling, or quiet running. This stimulates blood flow. Avoid intense exercise and heavyweights.
Muscle pain from a bruise or fracture? So don’t exercise!
With a bruise or a muscle tear, it is important to stop exercising immediately, and if the pain persists, contact a physiotherapist or your doctor.
What to do with muscle pain?
Do you suffer from sore muscles? Then you can do the following to relieve the muscle pain:
- Take a rest
- Take a warm shower or bath
- Eat protein-rich foods
- Reduce stress where you can
- Take a pain reliever
Take a rest
If you have muscle pain, it is important to give your muscles time and opportunity to recover. A muscle group takes about 48 to 72 hours to recover. Therefore, take a rest, but keep moving. A good night’s sleep can also contribute to a faster recovery. Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep.
Take a warm shower or bath.
Heat improves the blood circulation of your muscle tissue, making your muscles recover faster. For example, take a warm shower or a warm bath after exercise.
Eat protein-rich foods
Proteins contribute to the growth and maintenance of strong muscles and support the fast recovery of your muscles after overload. Eating or drinking protein-rich foods, such as cottage cheese, tuna, and (lean) beef, can, therefore, help to reduce muscle pain.
In addition, as a strength athlete or fanatic endurance athlete, you have an increased protein requirement. Below you will find the guidelines:
- Protein requirement non-athlete: 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.
- Endurance athlete protein requirement: 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram body weight.
- Protein requirement strength athlete: 1.6-2.0 grams per kilogram body weight.
There are several apps where you can keep track of what you eat. This way, you can see whether you have a healthy diet and whether you are consuming too much or too little of certain nutrients. Want to know what other foods are high in protein? Then read our article about proteins.
Reduce stress where you can
Stress negatively affects the ability to recover. In order to reduce your stress, it is important, among other things, to build in enough rest periods during the day and to ensure that you relax sufficiently.
Take a pain reliever.
With severe muscle pain, you could possibly use an anti-inflammatory to relieve the pain, for example, ibuprofen .…