While you might be tempted to lie on the couch when muscles ache, this is not always the best idea. While resting an injury can be smart, resting because of normal exercise-related aches and strains is not always the best idea. Here are some tips that will help you alleviate muscle pain and continue exercising.
Consider first of all, that there are really two kinds of muscle soreness. If you can remember back to the days when Jane Fonda told us to "go for the burn," this is one type of soreness. This type occurs during exercise, but should lessen within a few hours after you finish your routine. However, if painful soreness and stiffness occur after a workout, this is known as delayed onset muscle soreness. Usually this is common for beginners, and one way to keep it at bay is to create a proper workout routine.
We always hear about the importance of stretching to help keep muscles flexible and improve our range of motion. Stretching is important, but before you begin stretching or strength training or doing a big cardio routine, it is essential to warm up your muscles. Don't go from zero to 60 in one minute; go from zero to 10 then 20 and so on. The same rule applies to the end of a workout. Don't just stop abruptly, spend a portion of your workout cooling down and allowing muscles to more naturally come to rest.
To warm up, jog in place or walk up and down the stairs a few times or do some jumping jacks. You need to get blood flowing to the muscles before you stretch. This alone can keep muscle aches at bay. For a cool down, do a gentle walk and keep moving for 5 or 10 minutes after the really intense part of the workout. In addition, don't make your exercise routine too intense at first. You need to start slow and build up intensity, thus allowing your muscles days and weeks to get stronger.
Your overall workout routine should include strength training or weight training but not every day of the week. Be sure to allow for at least one day of rest before really working out your muscle groups. Cardio is usually fine every day, but your muscles need some time to repair and rest, so keep strength training to just three days per week at most.
Resting your muscles doesn't mean that you should just do nothing. You can certainly still go out for a walk or a jog or hop on the treadmill and do some cardiovascular exercise. In fact, this is a much better idea than doing nothing. You can even break it up throughout the day. Maybe do a brisk 10-minute walk in the morning, at lunch and after dinner, just keep those muscles from getting stiff.
One way to keep working out when you have a sore muscle but avoid a serious injury is to use an aid such as a physiological hybrid shape. RapidForce is one company that designs these unique shapes. Simply place the shape on a sore muscle group. The design of the shape actually protects the sore area and then gains strength from nearby muscles, allowing for better movement with less pain.
You can purchase physiological hybrid shapes for the shoulders and knees, as well as the lower or upper back areas. Because it rests on the body with a hypoallergenic, medical-grade adhesive, it won't fall off during vigorous activity.