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Fitness Articles  ›  Special Concerns

Smart Ways to Soothe Sore Muscles

Decode, Treat and Prevent 5 Common Types of Post-Workout Pain

-- By Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor
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Pain is a real, well, pain! How many times have you been gung-ho to start a new workout routine only to feel like you've been hit by a ton of bricks on day two? Something as simple as walking down the stairs can feel like torture. Most of us have "been there, done that" when it comes to muscle soreness. However, did you know that there are many different causes for muscle soreness and that some of them are entirely preventable? Read on to learn what's normal and what's not when it comes to muscle soreness, and how to tell the difference between normal soreness and pain that requires time off from the gym (or even a doctor's visit).

Many people confuse soreness with pain, but the two are very, very different. Soreness is more of a dull, slightly uncomfortable ache in your muscle, while pain is a very uncomfortable or sometimes sharp sensation in your bones, joints, or sometimes your muscles. While some muscle soreness is normal, pain is not. If you feel pain at any point during your workout, it is essential that you stop what you are doing. If you experience sudden pain, severe pain, swelling, extreme tenderness, extreme weakness in a limb, inability to place weight on a leg or foot, inability to move a joint through its full range of motion, visible dislocation or broken bone, numbness or tingling you should see a healthcare professional right away. 
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • Good info wish I would have found it before jan jumpstart! - 1/27/2014 6:51:56 PM
    excellent help,i did my first gym session today and just want to tone up,am a bit achy but am not worrying too much,see how i am tomorrow and may go for a light swim - 9/5/2013 4:31:23 PM
  • Great information. After reading the article I learn the name of the pain I sometimes get the day after I exercise "DOMS"= Delay Onset Muscle Soreness. I love when I learn something new:) - 7/17/2013 5:59:12 PM
  • Good info. Thanks. - 6/26/2013 7:13:18 AM
  • Glad you made the distinction between pain and soreness. Once a week I work to fatigue and feel sore the next day. I happen to enjoy the soreness because I know what it means. Now and then I can truly feel the burn too - but again - that's not usually more than once a week. Pain, otoh - uh uh. Nope. don't do pain. - 6/23/2013 6:36:31 AM
  • I am about to do a 21 mile bike ride today and then teach a yoga class. This was an excellent artical to reinforce that I will be alright! - 6/23/2013 6:36:05 AM
  • I've found ice baths to be incredibly helpful. - 6/14/2013 12:28:52 PM
  • Great info. Thanks - 5/31/2013 3:07:15 PM
  • Oh, this is such a relief.

    It's been a really long time since I've worked out, and I've been so sore and uncomfortable the last 24hrs. I was afraid that I might have pushed myself too far, but I'm sure that it's just from being inactive for so long. I'll start doing yoga to help with this soreness and stiffness. - 5/19/2013 9:06:27 PM
    Timely article, as I am tracking yesterday's work-out and lamenting the stiffness I am feeling today!!! Great resource! Thank you! - 8/1/2012 11:42:40 AM
    I have always found that stretching out the sore muscles helps. I used to dance and some days I felt so sore when I went into class I wondered if I would be able to dance, but after stretching I felt so much better. - 8/1/2012 9:14:20 AM
  • Quote: "If you experience [...] visible dislocation or broken bone [...] you should see a healthcare professional right away."

    No kidding?!? LOL

    But seriously, good article with very helpful tips. - 8/1/2012 7:36:19 AM
  • I find that some moderate swimming or other water exercise the day after a workout helps a lot for soreness. - 8/1/2012 5:59:49 AM
    Thank you miss P.--sometimes we have only a short time for a good work out and we want to squeeze every ounce into the workout and forget the cool down and stretch. I personally this is most important as we mature more. (smile) - 3/11/2012 9:35:19 AM
  • At a recent visit to my sport's medicine doctor, he emphasized the importance of cooling-down after a workout. He said he sees many, many patients after they have had a good workout. I,myself, have been quite lax on the cool-down aspect of my workout, thinking it wasn't so important. Now, I practice a warm-up, then the work-out, stretching, and a serious cool-down. I hope others need not have an injury first (like me) to practice a good injury prevention regime. - 2/24/2012 5:54:37 AM
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