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Fitness Newbies: Dealing with Muscle Soreness

At some point or another, a lot of us have made excuses to avoid getting the recommended hour of physical activity each day. I’m no different. I would always tell myself that I lacked the time; I was going out, or keeping up with school. After the holidays, I realized that I needed to change. I promised myself that this time it would be different, no more excuses getting in the way. So I hit the gym, and started working out.

Now though, there are mornings where I wake up and feel achy. Walking around campus is hard, and I’m aware of muscles in areas that I wasn’t before. Even imagining continuing with my goal for much longer is hard. This is where a lot of people struggle; they go to the gym for a bit, work out, and it hurts.

So people decide to stop because they haven’t developed the habits. Goodbye fitness goals. I’ve talked to other people who’ve gone through the same thing, so I know I’m not alone in not realizing how quickly our bodies can get out of shape. Not only that, but how hard it is to get back into shape.

But I’m here to tell you to keep trying. There is a term for the pain and it’s absolutely normal; it’s called delayed onset muscle soreness. The pain will last between one to two days then your body readjusts. Next time you do that hard workout, remind yourself that you’ll be okay afterwards. You just have to keep going, because the motivation that got you to step foot into the gym isn’t easy to keep. We’ve all been there, setting these amazing goals for ourselves in our heads when we’re feeling happy and excited about a new year and our new selves. Later, when we’re feeling hurt and sore, remembering those long-term fitness goals is hard.

Here are five methods to help you deal with the muscle soreness and stick to the new habits you know are good for you.

1. Add some variety to your workout. We all tend to find our favourite activity and stick with it instead of trying out other workouts. The muscle soreness you’re feeling is probably just in one area of your body that you’re overworking. If your arms are sore, work your legs. Don’t force yourself to keep reusing the same muscles, and you’ll also avoid becoming bored.

2. Stretch your muscles after the workout. Never before, because your muscles haven’t had time to warm up. This will lengthen your tight muscles, and even though you probably feel like doing anything to that area is the last thing you want to do, it’ll help.

3. Be sure to have a cool down phase for your work out. Even though it may seem like those last five minutes are the best time to work as hard as you can, it’s actually important not to overdo it, and slow down. Save that sprint for when you’re in a race and just want to get the last couple meters over with.

4. On a similar note, ice your muscles. Just like when you hurt yourself, ice will help to reduce the inflammation.

5. Remember that you’re getting stronger. Those exams you take every semester? You didn’t learn all that material in a day. Just like with studying, getting in shape requires a little bit of work every single day. Eventually, you’ll see your results.

You can do this!



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Mylan Ho

U Ottawa

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