Getting and Staying Healthy: A Health and Medical Blog

Muscle Soreness After Exercise: When Do You Need Doctor Intervention?

Ah, January! The month when more gym memberships sell than any other. January is the start of a new year and the chance for a new outlook on being healthy and exercising more. While buying a gym membership is admirable, it does also cause problems if you go too hard, too fast. After working out it is natural to feel some soreness in your muscles since they have not been worked strenuously for a while, but when does muscle pain cross the line to become something you need to discuss with a doctor? These are the tips you need to know.

What causes aching muscles?

When you start exercising for the first time in a long time, you put your muscles under stress. Once you put the muscle under stress, the fibres within the muscle break down and then rebuild themselves. As the fibres rebuild, the muscle becomes stronger. But, during the rebuilding period, your muscle becomes inflamed. This inflammation is the source of your pain.

You may notice the discomfort start around 6 hours after you have finished exercising, and you could feel the ache for up to 48 hours after you did your exercise routine. So, how do you reduce the ache?

How do you stop muscles from aching?

You will never completely stop muscle ache from occurring as it is a sign you have worked out effectively. Even professional bodybuilders get muscle ache as their body recovers. However, there are several things you can do to reduce the pain you are feeling right now:

  • move around to loosen up the muscles - a gentle walk for sore leg muscles or gentle stretching for sore arms
  • purchase a muscle ice pack at the local chemist and use this on the sore muscle to reduce the inflammation
  • have a hot shower or warm bath to apply heat to the sore area as heat is soothing for body aches

These methods should help to make you feel more comfortable, but if they don't, then you may need to see your doctor.

When do you go to the doctor?

Most muscle aches are simply inflammation and repairing fibres, but occasionally, a muscle ache is more sinister. When the pain is strong rather than an ache, you need medical attention. You may have torn the muscle, and further workouts may do permanent damage. Alternatively, if you notice that your urine changed to a dark colour, get medical attention as soon as you can. When the muscle fibres break down too far, it may cause damage to your kidneys, so you want this type of change checked out straight away.

Do not give up your workouts because of muscle soreness as they will heal, but do seek medical advice if you feel the pain is lasting longer than you expected.