Muscle & Joint Pain

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There's nothing like exercise, be it mountain hikes, gym session, cycling, and so many more. Nonetheless, these activities can cause pain and stiffness that start the day after exercise, and can last a couple of days.

What causes muscle pain?

It's normal to have muscle pain after having exercised, played sports or even after doing housework. Especially if:

  • You did an activity that you are not used to, like: running a long marathon when you normally run a mile or hiking for 5 hours when you normally hike for 30 minutes, etc.)
  • You suddenly increased the level, intensity and or duration of your training or exercise sessions.
  • You try a different exercise, that targets different muscles which lengthen, instead of shorten, the muscle (like walking downhill or extend the arm over the biceps routine)

These changes in a persons exercise routine can cause very small lesions in the muscle fibers and connective tissues. Usually, the a person begins to feel the pain the next day of activity and it gradually begins to improve as the days go by.

The good news is, that when you re-do the same activity or exercises frequently, the muscles begin to get used to it. According to Allan H. Goldfarb, PhD, FACSM, professor and exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina USA, Greensboro: "You will have less pain or no pain, and that is because the muscle or connective tissue has strengthened."

What causes joint pain?

Feeling joint pain is usually a sign of osteoarthritis. This inflammatory condition becomes more common as we get older. The cartilage that normally cushions joints wears away, leaving them inflamed and sore.

Another cause of this pain is overuse or injury, such as tennis elbow or a knee injury caused by a ligament or meniscus problem.

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Experts recommend stretching before a workout to prevent muscle soreness. However, investigations have shown that stretching prematurely does little to prevent pain or injury. It is best to warm up muscles before exercise and leave stretching for when the muscles are already warmed up, or after the excercise.

One of the best ways to prevent muscle pain is easing the course of the exercise routine, starting with light exercise and gradually increasing the intensity, this way reducing the likelihood of small injuries. According to Goldfarb PhD, FACSM, professor and exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina USA is advisable to increase the exercise level of effort by 10% at a time.

If you have a medical condition or are unsure about your health, consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your doctor can help you find an exercise program that is safe and effective for you.

With regards to joint pains, the best thing you can do is exercise, as this strengthens the muscles that support the joints. It is important not to exercise to the point where it hurts.

It can also help to work with a physiotherapist that can advise on how to exercise safely and how to maintain good posture in order to avoid injuries and joint pains.