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Why Are Your Muscles Aching?
Your muscles can become sore in several different ways. If you understand where your muscle aches come from, it's easier to figure out how to prevent them from aching in the future.
Muscle aches during or right after an activity are usually due to a tired muscle. For example, if your muscle hurts right after the last repetition of a strength training move, or after you sprint up the stairs. The soreness should go away after a few minutes of rest. If it doesn't, you may have a more serious muscle injury.
If you perform a difficult activity that your muscles aren't used to—like a new workout, or a long hike—you may feel significant soreness beginning from 12 to 24 hours up to 72 hours. Your muscles may feel sore, swollen, stiff, and less flexible than before the activity. The soreness comes from microscopic tearing and swelling your muscle fibers. This is a normal part of how your muscles and gain strength.
If you use a set of muscles repetitively for a long duration, on a regular basis—by operating a machine, in weightlifting sessions or long-distance running, even playing a musical instrument—the muscles can become painfully sore and may lose their normal range of movement. These muscles are probably not getting adequate rest between movements. The problem may be more severe if your body isn't correctly aligned while you're engaged in the activity. Half of all on-the-job injuries (in careers involving physical labor) come from this kind of muscle problem.
Muscle Pain Relief & Prevention
The time-tested formula for treating a muscle injury is to give it Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. If possible, elevate the sore muscle (propped up with pillows). Put enough ice to cover the sore area in a plastic bag (or use a bag of frozen vegetables—which may be easier to wrap around an injury) wrapped in a thin towel to protect your skin, and apply it to the sore area for 20 minutes at a time. Later you can wrap the injured area in an elastic bandage or tape it to give the muscle support.
Rest is recommended for most aching muscles—but that doesn't mean complete rest. It's important to keep using the muscles gently as they heal. That means normal use and gentle stretching. Otherwise, you may end up weaker than before your muscles got sore, leaving you vulnerable to further pain.
Aching muscles need time to heal, but you can still feel comfortable while the healing takes place. An over-the-counter pain reliever such as TYLENOL® 8 Hour can help relieve aching muscles. If muscle pain keeps you up at night, try a nighttime pain reliever and sleep aid such as TYLENOL® PM.
5 Ways to Prevent Muscle Aches