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When we begin an exercise regimen or push ourselves too hard during exercise, muscle soreness can occur. Taking steps to protect your muscles during exercise will ensure that post-exercise muscle soreness is kept to a minimum, or does not occur at all. Before a person begins any exercise program, or changes up a current one, she should talk to her doctor to ensure safety.
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Consistent Training Habits
Being a weekend warrior is not in anyone's best interest when it comes to exercise. Everyone should exercise at least two to three times a week. Each session should last for at least twenty minutes. While exercising more on the weekends (as long as the person is also exercising during the week) can be good, a person should never just exercise on the weekends.
Instead, choose a few regular days throughout the week for exercise. After sticking to this schedule for a few weeks, it will become routine and easier to maintain. Splitting up workouts is also beneficial in minimizing muscle soreness during exercise. For example, one day, work on the legs and back, one day work on the arms, chest, and abdominal muscles, and on another day, work just on the areas you are most concerned about tightening and strengthening. It is important to incorporate at least fifteen to twenty minutes of cardiovascular exercise into all workout sessions if your doctor says it is safe for you.
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Thoroughly stretching before a workout is crucial. Failing to stretch before exercising may result in injury and/or muscle soreness. Each stretch should be held for fifteen seconds. When stretching, go as far as you can go without discomfort. If discomfort or pain occurs, stop stretching immediately.
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Drink plenty of water every day. Also be sure to drink water before, during and after a workout. Additionally, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet that is low-fat and high in proteins and carbohydrates to ensure the body has enough fuel to power through each workout.
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Warming up before a workout is crucial in preventing muscle soreness during exercise and in preventing injury. If a person just starts working out with “cold” muscles, there is a higher risk of damage and soreness. Warming up will gradually increase breathing rate, oxygen flow, heart rate and nutrient flow to the muscles. It also helps to loosen up the muscles and joints and prepare the body for the demands of exercise.
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Massage and Relaxation
Massage can help to relax tight muscles and decrease muscle soreness. Muscle soreness is alleviated through massage because it stimulates neutrophils, the white blood cells responsible for fighting inflammation. Two to three massages a month can greatly reduce muscle soreness, spasms, certain types of muscle pain and stress.
While massage is one way to relieve body aches and tension, there are other methods that also work. For example, using a hot tub for fifteen minutes, a warm bath or an epsom salt bath can help to decrease muscle tension and soreness.
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WebMD. (2010). Sore Muscles? Don't Stop Exercising. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/sore-muscles-keep-exercising
Kedlaya, D. MBBS & Kuang, T. MD. (2008). Postexercise Muscle Soreness. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from eMedicine Medscape: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/313267-overview
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