What is muscle pain?
Muscle pain is a common problem that affects people of all ages. Almost all of us have felt muscle pain at some point in our lives. There are many reasons for muscle pain, including injury, infection, disease, or other health related problems.
The most common type of muscle pain is called myalgia which is characterised by stiffness and soreness in the muscles. Pain can be felt in any part of the body, either as a sharp, stabbing sensation or as a deep steady ache. Muscle pain can be short term or chronic, depending on its duration. Regardless, muscle pain can be a nuisance that can keep you from performing at your best.
Other Symptoms of muscle pain include:
- Muscle strains & sprains are common injuries that can affect your daily life.
A sprain happens when ligaments are stretched or torn. Common locations for sprains include your ankle joint. Common symptoms of sprains include bruising, swelling, pain around the affected joint and difficulty using the affected joints full range of motion.
A strain involves an injury to a muscle or the band of tissue that attaches a muscle to a bone. Common symptoms of strains include swelling, muscle spasms, pain around the affected joint and difficulty using the affected joints full range of motion.
- Muscle spasms (muscle cramps) occur when your muscle involuntary and forcibly contracts uncontrollably and can’t relax. Common locations muscle spasms tend to affect include feet, thighs, calves, hands, arms, and the abdomen.
- Joint pain: A physical discomfort, ache, or soreness where two or more bones meet to form a joint.
Muscle pain can have several different causes, some of which are more serious than others.
Some of the most common causes of muscle pain are overuse, injuries such as strains & sprains, tension, and stress. This type of pain is usually called localised pain, affecting just a few muscles or a particular body part such as the neck, shoulder, lower back, and legs.
Some people may experience muscle pain all over, this is called systemic muscle pain. This is more often the result of an infection, an illness, or a side effect of a medication.
Muscle pain after exercise?
Muscle aches commonly occur due to injury of the muscle associated with overusing the muscle during physical exercise, or simply by skipping warmups and cooldowns. Delayed onset muscle soreness occurs after exercise. Muscle aches may come on 6-12 hours after a workout and last up to 48 hours after the exercise.
Muscle pain can come from something as little as trying a new physical activity or switching up your exercise routine.
There are many ways to manage and treat muscle pain and the conditions that cause it, such as using a muscle pain relief gel or cream, taking supplements, or using an ice pack or treatment method such as RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
R – Rest & protect the area of the body your experiencing muscle aches and pains.
I – Ice the injury, using a cold compress or ice pack assists with decreasing inflammation and can numb the pain in the affected area.
C – Compression to the affected area helps provide support, decrease swelling and reduce blood flow. So, it is recommended to wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage.
E – Elevate the injury to help minimise swelling. Elevation of the injury allows fluid to drain away from the affected area. Try to keep the injury at the same level as your heart or close to it.
There are many steps you can take to prevent muscle pain and the conditions that cause it.
- Stretch: Stretching before and after exercise can help prevent injury and soreness. It can also help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension as stretching relaxes your muscles. If you work at a desk or are in an environment that puts you at risk of muscle strains or tension, get up and stretch regularly.
- Warm up and cool down: Warm up your muscles before exercise to increase blood flow, simply go for a light jog. Muscles are made up of a series of fibres that contract and relax. When muscles are exercised, they become fatigued and sore. Therefore, it is important to cool down after a workout to allow for gradual recovery.
- Hydrate: Stay hydrated, water helps control your body temperature and ease inflammation. Staying hydrated means giving your muscles the nutrients they need to recover from workouts. Water helps transport nutrients to muscles and other tissues throughout the body.
- Rest – Give your body time to rest. Try to get some gentle movement in the day after a tough workout. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night, aim for at least 7 hours each night. Your body needs time to heal and replenish, so take advantage of the downtime.
- Regular – engage in regular exercise to help promote optimal muscle tone.
- Massage – Release tension in your muscles after exercise by massaging the muscle or using a foam roller, these techniques assist in increasing circulation to deliver more nutrients and oxygen to the affected area, helping to reduce swelling and tenderness providing muscle relief.
Overall recovery is crucial because it lets your body repair itself and come back stronger.
When to call your doctor?
Muscle aches aren’t always harmless, and in some instances home treatment isn’t enough to address further underlying issues. You should see your doctor if:
- Muscle pain persists for more than 48 hours or if the person has other symptoms like fever or weight loss.
- Pain occurs soon after a medication change
- Your exercising chest pain, loss of bladder control, muscle weakness, new or worsening pain, numbness or tingling in limbs.