If you are at all like me, you were anxious to get outside last weekend and enjoy the beginnings of spring! Whether you took a long walk, rode your bike or spent some time cleaning up your yard after a long hard winter, you can probably fill in the blank above with “Back”, ‘Legs”, “Neck”, etc.
It is amazing how muscles and joints that we don’t normally even think about can suddenly command our attention. The soreness and stiffness that we sometimes experience can make us hesitant to jump back into these activities again – but don’t give up! Learning more about preventing and treating sore muscles and aching joints will allow you to continue with the activities you enjoy.
There are several causes for sore muscles. It might be doing an activity that you are not used to or suddenly increasing the intensity of an activity. These changes can cause microdamage to the muscle fibers and connective tissue. It usually doesn’t hurt right away but about a day later you may start feeling sore. The good news is that it will ease in a day or two and the next time you do the activity, your muscles will start to get used to the movement and will become stronger and you’ll become less sore.
Pain in your joints is often a sign of osteoarthritis. The cartilage that cushions the joints wears away and can lead to increased pain with use of that joint. Pain can be caused by overuse or injury.
One way to help prevent sore muscles is through stretching. It is important to stretch properly.
Here are some stretching tips:
- Stretching should never be painful but should cause your muscle to feel comfortably stretched but never distressed.
- Take your time and ease into each stretch.
- Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds and perform the stretch three times.
- Breathe naturally when you are stretching – never hold your breath!
Always consult your physician before any type of physical activity – including stretching.
If you do have a sore muscle, most experts recommend using ice wrapped in a thin towel for immediate relief. This will help reduce inflammation then you can use heat later to increase blood flow to the area. Heat is often helpful for joint pain.
So, go outside, enjoy the warm spring weather that has finally arrived. But remember, ease into new activities to avoid the aches and pains!
Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Treber.email@example.com
Sources: Managing Sore Muscles and Joint Pain.
Stretching and Flexibility as We Age