Reduce & Prevent Muscle Pain After Your First Workout
There are probably multiple reasons you haven’t been able to workout lately. It may relate to an injury, a busy schedule, life events like having a new baby or getting married, or all of the above. Regardless of the reasons, you don’t want to start a new exercise program without considering your current health and fitness level.
Getting started is a process and you want to focus on reasonable goals. Do not expect to workout at the same level as your previous exercise routines. Due to the break from exercise, you need to ease back into the program and start with something simple.
If you have any health concerns related to exercising, then discuss fitness goals with a medical professional. Never start a new routine without discussing your current health with a doctor. Certain health conditions, like diabetes, may require special measures to keep your body healthy through a workout. A pregnant woman or a woman who has recently given birth should also talk to a doctor before getting started to avoid any complications.
Some key considerations when easing back into a workout routine include:
- Your current fitness level
- The length of time since your last workout
- Your goals
- Any health concerns contributing to worries, such as diabetes, a pregnancy or even a previous injury
- Your personal motivations
Plan to start with small goals and work up to a previous fitness level. Never start out with a large amount of exercise to limit the risk of health issues, injuries, and severe muscle soreness after a first workout.
What is Too Much Exercise?
The key concern with starting a workout routine after a break is exercising too much. As the phrase implies, too much exercise means the individual works out at a level beyond his or her current abilities – either by attempting to over-perform or by working out too often to start.
Signs of too much exercise include:
- Extreme muscle soreness
- Feeling excessively fatigued
- An increased resting heart rate
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes to your mood, particularly feeling depressed or upset without obvious causes
- Getting sick easily
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
During the first workout, you will generally feel a little tired and uncomfortable. If you persist in over-training, then you will notice a gradual increase in health concerns.
Sore muscles may develop when you first start a workout routine; however, you should not feel sore a week later from the same workout. If the soreness persists beyond a few days, then it may be a sign of excessive exercise for your body’s current abilities.
How to Avoid Over-Training on the First Workout
Due to the break from exercise, you may discover that over-training is easier than you expected. During your first workout back, you want to slowly ease into the routine.
Start with stretches to reduce the risk of injuries. Take your time and work on stretching all of the muscle groups until you feel comfortable and ready for exercise. Do not worry about taking longer than a previous routine. A break from exercise may result in stiff muscles and stretching helps improve flexibility and mobility before a workout.
When you feel limber and ready for a workout routine, start with short workouts. Spend a few minutes in a cardio routine rather than 30 to 40 minutes. For example, set aside five minutes to start and get your heart rate up. After the workout, slow to a walk and ease off the routine. By starting with a limited amount of time, you avoid excessive exercise until your body is ready for more intense workout routines.
For lifting or muscle building exercises, start with smaller weights and fewer repetitions. For example, start with five or ten pound weights and 20 repetitions in sets of ten. If you don’t feel that the weight or repetitions are enough, then add extra repetitions rather than more weight.
As a general rule, you should feel mildly sore after a workout and the soreness should fade within a few days. If you feel very sore immediately after a workout or if the soreness persists for an extended period, then you have over-worked the muscles and you should wait until the soreness fades before engaging in another workout routine.
Solutions for Pain After Your First Workout
If you are very sore after a first workout, then you want to take measures to ease the sore muscles and address the discomfort. In general, any new physical activity stresses the muscles and causes soreness. Mild soreness or the delayed feeling of soreness occurring within 24 to 48 hours after a workout is normal; however, very sore muscles that persist for several days are the first sign of over-worked muscles. If you allow the muscles to fully heal before the next workout, then you have a lower risk of chronic over-training and the related health concerns that may arise.
- If you notice the soreness during or right after a first workout, gently stretch the muscles. Gentle stretches and very light exercises improve blood circulation, which helps ease the discomfort in your muscles.
- Do not engage in strenuous exercise until the soreness fades. Use gentle and very light exercises for better circulation. For example, stretch and then take a short walk down the street. The walking further eases the muscles and improves circulation without adding strain to the muscles. Focus on light exercises and short durations. Do not walk for long distances when trying to ease soreness since it may cause further discomfort.
- Massage the muscles to help reduce soreness. A gentle massage improves circulation and helps ease some discomfort from sore muscles. Avoid deep tissue or hard massages, since it may feel uncomfortable while the muscles recover from a workout.
- Take a warm bath or hot packs to ease the muscles. Heat helps reduce tension in the muscles, which reduces the pressure on the circulatory system and improves circulation.
- When soreness persists and seems very extreme, use hot and cold therapy. Hot and cold therapy means putting ice on the sore area for a set amount of time, such as holding the ice to the muscles for 3 minutes, removing it for one minute and then repeating the process for a total of 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes of cold therapy, use warmth to ease the muscles further. Use hot packs for 15 minutes. Repeat the process as needed to reduce pain in different areas.
Be Smart And Cautious To Prevent Muscle Pain After Workouts
Delayed onset muscle soreness occurs when you add new physical activities to your routine. If you have not engaged in a workout routine for a period of time, then you may experience sore muscles and other signs of over-worked muscles. While your body needs time to fully heal and recover, you also want to encourage the healing process by easing the pain and continuing to engage in gentle stretches and exercises.