This condition is common in individuals who begin an exercise program or participate after a long layoff from exercise. The acute soreness that sets in the first few hours after exercise is thought to be related to lack of blood (oxygen) flow and general fatigue of the exercised muscles. The delayed soreness that appears several hours after exercise (usually twelve hour later) and lasts for two to four days may be related to actual tiny tears in muscle tissue, muscle spasms that increase fluid retention stimulating the pain nerve endings, and overstretching or tearing of connective tissue in and around joints.
The recommended approach to prevent soreness and stiffness is through stretching adequately before and after exercise, and gradually progressing into your exercise program. Do not attempt to do too much too quickly. If you experience soreness and stiffness, mild stretching, low-intensity exercise to stimulate blood flow, and a warm bath can help relieve the pain.
Daryl Conant, M.Ed
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