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Bodybuilding: Soreness - what causes the pain and how to heal from it

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Getting in a good workout is often accompanied by pain. You may not necessarily experience the pain during your training but will usually start to feel it hours later, or within the next day or so. In fact, some people associate having a good workout with how much pain they find themselves in afterwards. For others, the pain is the very reason they choose not to workout at all. So why is there soreness and pain after workouts?

The most common reason is quite simple. Anytime you apply new or different techniques to your body in training, whether it's a little more weight on the bar, more reps or sets, or even a totally different exercise altogether, you are recruiting muscle fibers that may not have been tapped into. In fact, if you've never worked out, get ready, you will experience discomfort until your body adapts. When you change up your routine, even in the slightest, you put your body through a new task and it responds in a new way, pain! You shouldn't be alarmed by this because it is a perfectly natural response. It is the process your body has to go through to adapt to unusual stress placed upon it through exercise. Most times, the pain or soreness doesn't appear right away but it will show up, promise! This process is known as "delayed onset muscle soreness", or DOMS. This phenomenon is usually felt within 12 to 48 hours after exercise. The technical terminology for this process is that the carbohydrates your body uses for fuel, results in lactic acid. Although, lactic acid is a normal byproduct of muscle metabolism, it irritates muscles by causing discomfort and painful soreness.

Although uncomfortable, the soreness subsides quickly when you choose to work through the pain with more exercise. That's right, when you are experiencing painful soreness, exercise works the soreness out, quickly. One would think the effect would be the exact opposite but it is a well known fact for training the muscles. The body simply learns to adapt to your new training method and therefore, does not experience the same painful onset as it does in the beginning of a new routine or exercise.

For those who experience a little more than the average painful soreness, you can find relief from Ibuprofen, aspirin, etc. However, this should not be your first go-to for relief. One simple option would be a massage. Another, would be incorporating Glutamine into your diet after your workouts. A third, would be to let your body rest for several hours before putting it through another grueling training session. This is very important and often overlooked. When rest is overlooked, it causes you to overtrain which can sometimes transform a little soreness into injury if you are not careful. Resting also allows the body to repair itself and heal. If you are bodybuilding, especially, this is most important for you.

There is really no real way to escape a little bit of soreness if you workout to any degree. It's simply par for the course. However, you can use the different techniques mentioned above to help with getting through the discomfort. Just remember, without incorporating something different into your routine, you can't grow. If you don't experience discomfort, you can best be sure, you are not challenging your body to make changes. Working out is WORK, plain and simple. But the rewards are far greater and more satisfying than the discomfort of any amount of pain it takes to receive them!

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