Although we have all experienced muscle soreness at some point in life, for few, it is desired and considered rewarding after a workout while for others frustrating. It is characterized by local muscle pain, and often accompanied with tenderness and stiffness. However, the severity of soreness depends on the types of forces placed on the muscle. Two types of exercise-induced damage could develop. The first appears during or right after the workout, and is called acute muscle soreness. The second begins to develop 12-24 hours after the exercise and produces the greatest pain between 24-72 hours. The latter, called delayed onset muscle soreness, have its symptoms disappearing after around six days.
The exact reason for the soreness is not yet completely understood, but it usually occurs when you have been repeatedly exposed to eccentric strenuous workout or when you have just started exercising. This phenomenon, to a certain extent, is unpreventable and considered normal. It is when your muscle fibers got teared after the physical activity, start healing and grow bigger by building new fibers.
A host of studies have reported several techniques to reduce muscle soreness, yet none of them have reached a solid conclusion. Any attempt used to decrease the pain was mainly targeting the inflammation caused following the tearing of muscle fibers. You will be advised, either by your coach or by a friend that several methods showed to work better than others. You will be proposed to have nutritional interventions such as caffeine, curcumin, omega 3, taurine, or to take some of the over-the-counter pain reliever medications and topical ointments or even to have a warm bath after the exercise. Others will propose that a muscle stretching, conducted before and after exercise, will help decrease muscle pain. None of these interventions showed to be beneficial.
The best way to reduce the severity of muscle soreness is to progress slowly in your new workout program. This way you would allow the muscles time to adapt to new stress without injuring yourself. It is also recommended to refrain from the program for few days if the symptoms are too painful and return to the activity once you feel better. If the pain lasts for more than a couple of days; you need to contact your doctor.