Joint pain and muscle soreness are very common to both old and young body builders and athletes.
Many physically active individuals find out that they suffer from this at a point in their life.
If you begin to suspect pain and ache in your muscle or joint, just know that you are not the first person to witness this…
… and you will definitely not be the last because a lot of athletes and body builders are making the same workout mistakes you are making which leads to this.
You may begin to feel terrible pain in your wrists and other joints when you start weight training and other physical activities.
You may begin to notice muscle soreness too.
Soreness in your muscle and pain in your joint include aching muscles in your your arms and leg joints.
This happens to young and aging athletes and body builders alike.
The pain and ache that you begin to feel in your muscle a day or two after your workout is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Is this Normal?
As a first timer, frustration sets in as soon as you suspect pain in your muscle and joint and you begin to find it hard to give your 100% during your exercise.
As soon as you suspect that soreness have crept into your muscle and joints, you go easy at first, only to resume and find out that the pains are still there.
When this happens again, you decide to take it slow again and you resume your activities after sometime. And then…” ouch! The pain is there again.
You play it cool again and again coming back to find out that the pain never left there and you being to panic, wondering if the pain will ever go away.
And on the other hand, some weight lifters and athletes have learn to love this feeling because they associate it with a productive workout, but they also find themselves hating it when it hinders further training.
Joint and muscle soreness results during your training session. When you train, you cause miceo-trauma to target your muscles, which is essentially an injury and thus results in inflammation and pain.
For your muscle strength to increase, it must see some increase in stress over what it is used to experiencing, and this stress is usually perceived as the “burn” in muscle during activity.
This mild burn is what body builders and athletes call good pain and is the basis of the popular phrase, “No pain, no gain.”
This pain however, is supposed be short-lived and resolve soon after the activity comes to an end.
Soreness after a good, strenuous workout is also an indication that the exercise/workout is pushing the limits of the body builder's or athlete’s physiology, but it too should not be excessive.
If this pain lasts for days, it means your physiology has been excessively challenged, and this means that the muscles and the energy stores are not being effectively replenished.
Chronic joint and muscle pain after excessive exercise 1 suggests that you may have been over training.
If after appropriate rest the pains in your joints and muscle continue, it may be a sign of other medical problems and you should consult a doctor.
Why it is common among body builders and athletes?
For physically active people like bodybuilders and athletes, there can be several causes. That’s the bad news.
- Wrong form of exercise
This is one of the main reasons why so many bodybuilders and athletes end up with painful joints and sore muscle.
Consistently making use of heavy weights and bad form invariably causes bursitis, which is the inflammation of the bursae; small fluid filled sacks whose job is to reduce friction in the joint.
The elbows and shoulders are often afflicted by this condition so all of you bench press experts please pay attention to this, as it is very hard to bench with bad shoulders and elbows.
Bad lifting technique also causes tears on the tendons which can lead to tendonitis.
If your lifting technique is really horrible and there is way too much weight being used as well, this will lead to total misalignment of your joints as well.
- Lack of proper nutrition
Joints as well as muscles require nutrition and rest. Not getting the right nutrients diminishes your body’s ability to adapt to stress.
As a result, if you continue to train without eating good food micro tears can start occurring in your tendons as well as a deterioration of the cartilage in your joint, which will lead to more wear and tear of the joint than normal.
Extremely low levels of nutrients coupled with hard training will then invariably lead to conditions like osteoarthritis (the more common form of arthritis encountered by weight lifters and athletes which is caused by cartilage becoming rough and thus causing more friction at the joint) and tendonitis, which has been discussed above, and is the inflammation of tendons due to accumulated trauma.
- Lack of rest
Some body builders and athletes make the mistake of not taking enough time off to allow their joints, tendons, muscles, etc., to recuperate from heavy workouts.
Your joints, muscles and tendons need enough rest so they can recover.
- Over training
Muscle soreness typically occurs if you do a new type of exercise to which you are not accustomed or if you do a familiar exercise too hard.
This soreness usually begins within a few hours but peaks one to two days after the exercise.
This soreness is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and may represent actual muscle damage.
Just a little bit of soreness or discomfort usually means that your muscle has been stressed, but when it is exercised too much, your muscle can become very sore to move and touch and may even swell.
In severe cases, it may be damaged to the point that it starts to develop permanent damage.
In extreme cases, if you are not adequately conditioned and you exercise excessively, you can develop a condition where the muscle is permanently damaged and proteins are released into the blood stream, which can shut down the kidneys.
While this is very rare, there have been cases of death due to this extreme over exercising of the muscles, so it is generally recommended that if you start an exercise program, you begin very slowly and build up gradually.
To prevent this problem with your muscles, it is usually recommend that you take the amount of exercise you think you can do and cut it by one third the first few times you do it.
- Skipping stretching/warming up
Warming up gently prepares your body for exercises by gradually increasing the heart rate and circulation; this will loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles.
Stretching the muscles helps prepare them for physical activity and prevents injuries.
A warm-up session should take place prior to doing physical activity.
Warm-up usually consists of light cardiovascular exercises combined with stretches.
Your warm up session should last between 20 minutes and half an hour giving your body plenty of time to gradually get ready for physical activity and gives you time to prepare yourself mentally.
- Muscle strength that increases too quickly
Certain supplements taken by weight lifters and athletes, like creatine and nitric oxide boosters for instance, can cause the muscle strength to skyrocket.
While this may sound great, in these cases, it is of utmost importance that you slowly control the rate at which you add weight to the exercises.
Even if more weight can be put on the bar, it is best for you to go for more repetitions instead.
The reason this happens is because muscle strength increases much quicker than joint strength. So increasing the training load too soon can easily lead to a joint injury even if the form practiced is impeccable and if the muscles can easily handle the load.
This is a situation that teenagers encounter very often as teens’ muscle strength quickly rises due to all the anabolic hormones been produced by the body at that age.
- Lack of concentration
This is yet another common mistake body builders make.
If you don't concentrate on what you're doing, you are definitely going to do your exercises in the wrong form.
Of course you are not at risk of pains and soreness if you use light weights, but when you're trying to push hard you simply can not afford distraction.
Avoid talking with your buddies. Don't even try “spying” other people in the mirror and then no cell phones. These are major agents of distraction.
Types of joint problems peculiar to athletes and body builders
There are different types of joint pain but some are more peculiar to athletes and body builders.
Here is a brief description of the most common types and causes of joint pain that afflict athletes:
Tendonitis 3 is probably the most common cause of pain to bodybuilders and other athletes and it happens to be the easiest to treat.
However, if it is left untreated, it can become a real problem that will put a quick end to your gains in muscle.
Basically, tendonitis just means the tendon(s) around a joint have become severely inflamed from overuse, micro injury, etc.
Though it might sound painless, but for people who suffer from chronic tendinitis it's no joke and a real pain in the joint!
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis)
Arthritis 4 has many different forms. The two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Of the two, osteoarthritis is by far the most common to bodybuilders and other athletes.
Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints and is characterized by a deterioration of the cartilage at the ends of the bones. The once smooth cartilage becomes rough thus causing more and more friction and pain.
When left untreated and unchecked, osteoarthritis can become very debilitating for the hard training athlete.
Chronic osteoarthritis has put an end to the career of numerous athletes.
In our joints there are small fluid filled sacks called bursae.
The bursae is responsible for assisting in the muscle/joints movement by cushioning the joints and bones against friction.
If the bursae become inflamed and/or injured due to various causes, a chronic pain called “bursitis” can result.
Bursitis is often found in the shoulder or elbow (A.K.A tennis elbow) but can also be found in other joints of the body.
Bursitis is very painful and can ruin a workout quickly if left untreated.
Prevention and treatment
Joint and muscle recovery requires a lot of approach and changes.
If you are affected, you will need to try many helpful tips to get rid of this so that you can continue your workout with disturbing pains popping up again.
It is not as hard as it sounds.
Eating the right foods, taking the right supplements and vitamins, performing healing exercises for the joint and muscles going through physical therapy, taking the necessary preventive measures would help you overcome this problem.
In more severe cases, you may have to see your doctor, who will place you on medications. Surgery may be recommended if your case is more severe.
It is time to start taking care of your joints so you can enjoy life, and training, to the fullest.
Best exercises for joint recovery
While over training and extreme exercising may be a cause, there are exercises that can be done to help prevent and aid the healing of sore joints and muscle.
To keep your knees, hips, elbows and other joints in healthy working order, try one of these exercises to strengthen and stabilize your joints and prevent future pain and injury.
- Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises are great for muscle and joint health. Weight bearing exercises like walking, dancing, climbing stairs, hiking can help build your bones and keep your joints healthy.
Biking and swimming are great for your muscles and can help speed up recovery.
- One leg balance
This exercise is very straightforward. Standing with your feet just slightly less than shoulder-width apart, then shift your weight to one foot without locking your knee joint.
Next, lift your opposite leg and hold this position for 30 seconds.
The one leg balance is a balancing exercise that will help to strengthen the muscles that keep your knee stable as you walk or bend.
For a more difficult variation, keep that raised leg straight and lifting it to the side with each inhale, or try the exercise on a balance board instead of on the floor.
Pilates is effective for stabilizing your joints and strengthening the muscles that support your joints.
Do the “shoulder bridge.”
Lay on your back, bend your knees and place your arms on each side of your body.
Now exhale through pursed lips as you contract the abdominal and lift your pelvis. (Avoid arching your back or over flexing your knees.) Inhale through the nose and hold the position.
Exhale to lower your pelvis back to the ground. Repeat the exercise.
Foods that aid recovery
Right now you may be wondering what you are left with to treat those recurring annoying aches and pains.
Chronic use of NSAIDs 5 and cortisone will mask pain and you are possibly causing pains for yourself even more and, even if you quit exercising they'll blunt your healing progress over time.
So what's a fitness enthusiast got to do? Choose food.
Muscle and joint injuries heal better and more quickly when the proper nutrients are consumed as part of a healthy diet.
The following foods are your go to for decreasing inflammation without hampering recovery:
Pineapple is rich in an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain produces substances that help fight pain and inflammation.
Eat fresh or frozen instead of canned pineapple.
- Turmeric, Ginger, Oregano
These spices have so many studies showing their benefit in mitigating inflammation.
They should absolutely be included in your diet on a consistent basis if you’ve got some systemic inflammation.
Cook with them or add them to your smoothie.
Papaya contains a digestive enzyme called papain which helps to reduce inflammation and helps your digestion.
Eating papaya daily will speed up the recovery process of your joint and muscle.
- Vitamin C rich foods
Citrus fruits, kiwi, peppers and broccoli are loaded with vitamin c.Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that your body does not have the ability to produce. This means you need to consume it on a daily basis.
Vitamin C aids in healing process by building new protein for the skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.
Vitamin C also helps our body maintain cartilage and bone tissues.
- Vitamin A rich foods
Sunflower seeds, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, swiss chard, and spinach are rich in vitamin A.
Vitamin A promotes the production of white blood cells in your body.
The White blood cells are the main “keepers of the injury”; they help fight off infection and viruses from the body.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids rich foods
Eat foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids. Salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts are loaded with these fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to reduce inflammation, so much so that other pain killers and drug may not be needed.
Reducing the swelling and inflammation around an injury will reduce the pain you may be experiencing and promote healing.
- Foods Rich in Zinc
Eat oysters, nuts, seeds, and chicken. They are loaded with zinc.
Every single tissue in your body contains zinc; therefore, zinc becomes very important in the healing process of any injury.
Zinc helps your body to use the fats and proteins you consume to promote growth and healing of the injured tissue.
Zinc will also keep your immune system strong, much like vitamin A, which protects you from other infections or viruses.
- Antioxidants Rich Foods
Consume blueberries, tart cherries, prunes, turmeric, ginger and coffee. These foods are rich in antioxidants.
Free radicals are the toxins that are found roaming around your body, especially when you sustain a running injury. These free radicals make you weaker by taking from your healthy cells.
Foods like blueberries, strawberries and tart cherries help to control those free radicals, so our body can focus on repair.
- Foods Rich in Protein
Foods like grass feed beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, Greek yogurt are loaded with protein.
An injury to your body will automatically increase your body’s demand for protein. Protein is required in multiple processes which starts to take place as soon as the injury happens and through the injury recovery time.
Consuming adequate amounts of high quality protein will determine how quickly you heal.
Therefore, it is essential that you shift your diet from a high carbohydrate to high protein when you have muscle and joint injury.
Supplements and vitamins to take
While eating good food should always remain a priority to get most of your nutrients, supplements also play their own part in providing the right building blocks for your joint and muscle recovery, due to their convenience and fast rate of absorption.
Sticking to the fundamentals is the key to getting the most out of effective supplementation; use science to your advantage and simply add in only the appropriate supplements that you know, through proven research will benefit you.
So, what supplements and vitamins are we talking about here?
Whether you are a man or a woman, here is a list of supplements that will play a crucial role towards your recovery.
Protein is an important nutrient to take immediately after your workout, alongside carbohydrates.
Your muscles have been broken down after workout, therefore they need repairing and rebuilding.
Supplementing on protein in the form of a shake is not only an efficient and fast-digesting way to get aminos to your muscles quickly, it is also a perfect way to also stimulate muscle protein synthesis, recovery and growth.
However, make sure when you are buying your protein supplement, you find one with only the best ingredients.
Quality over quantity is the key when it comes to protein.
- Vitamin A
Vitamin A may be able to relieve soreness in your joints and muscle. It assists in the growth and care of muscle tissue as well as the development of bone growth.
Taking a high dose of vitamin A for five days can help speed up the recovery process of the joints and muscle, but because toxicity can occur, it should be taken with your doctor’s guidance.
- B Vitamins
B Vitamins can help reduce soreness in your joints and your muscles. They also contribute toward muscle tone and may reduce inflammation around the joint.
B Vitamins help reduce the pain associated with muscle and joints aches and cramping.
- Fish oil
Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
It offers numerous health benefits which includes keeping your heart, brain and eyes in good working order.
Fish oil decreases inflammation in the muscle and enhances body composition.
Inflammation in the body is not only bad for your health, it severely impacts your ability to recover, lose fat and build muscle.
If you get the optimal percentage of your dietary fat from fish oil , you will be reducing muscle inflammation and improve oxygen delivery, allowing your muscles to recover faster.
Branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) have become a popular supplement among athletes and body builders due to their role in muscle and energy production during exercise and therefore they are commonly used immediately around or during workout.
BCAAs are made up of three essential aminos, leucine, isoleucine and valine. They have been proven to significantly reduce muscular soreness and accelerate the growth and recovery process.
Consuming on these amino acids will also help prevent muscle breakdown, as your body will not be forced to eat into its own muscle tissue for energy.
BCAA’s are taken in the form of tablets or a liquid drink.
Magnesium is another critical supplement to help speed up muscle recovery.
It will allow you to sleep like a baby through its ability to relax muscles, Consuming enough magnesium will help you improve muscle function, maintain electrolyte balance and reduce fatigue.
- MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)
MSM supplies the raw material for the production of cartilage in the body.
MSM is a structural protein, nontoxic, that is found in most organic matter. It helps build collagen that is the binding tissue for bones.
MSM is very effective in the treatment of arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Calcium is helpful in reducing joint pain and inflammation and is one of the best supplements for knee joints.
Supplementing on calcium would help you ease soreness in your joints.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an anti-oxidizing agent that protects connective tissues like the ligaments, tendons, and skin, bones and joints.
Vitamn C makes collagen which is vital for the flexibility of muscles and blood vessels.
Gelatin is the best supplement for knee joints, especially for athletes and sportspersons.
Gelatin acts as a lubricant that prevents bone tissue wear and tear due to regular use.Supplements should be taken strictly under physician guidance.
Improper usage or excessive dosage of gelatin supplements can be toxic and sometimes fatal.
Topical treatments for joint and muscle
Topical treatments like creams, gels and sprays are widely available in pharmacies.
Some contain an anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen or ketoprofen, while others are heat and cold treatments to soothe the pain and soreness.
Topical treatments should be applied to the skin over the affected area by massaging it gently.
Remember to wash your hands after applying them and avoid applying them to broken skin.
- Anti inflammatory gels, creams and spray
Anti-inflammatory creams, gels and sprays are absorbed through the skin into the underlying tissues, where they reduce inflammation and pain in the local area.
Non Steroidal Anti inflammatory Drugs are less likely to cause side effects when applied to the skin.
However, they can still be absorbed into the bloodstream, especially when used on large areas.
- Heat treatment
Topical heat treatments work by creating a sensation of heat over the affected area when they are applied.
Heat treatment distracts from the pain felt in the muscles or joints and helps soothe the pain.
- Ice pack treatment
Applying an ice pack on your sore joint and muscle will help relieve the pain and relax your body.
Place and ice pack over the affected areas after your workout. You should also do this regularly to help speed up recovery process of your joints and muscle.
If you get sore joints and muscles once in a while, you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin ), ornaproxen (Aleve )to help ease the discomfort.
Be cautious about using NSAIDs regularly. Long-term use can interfere with your muscle's ability to repair itself.
Talk with your physician about any interactions these over-the-counter drugs may have with other medications you are taking.
You may need to avoid some medications if you have ulcers, kidney disease, liver disease, or other conditions.
Sometimes soothing sore muscles and joints requires a lot more than an ice pack or over-the-counter medications.
Muscle and joint pain that comes on quickly and feels intense is a sign that you've injured yourself.
Visit your doctor if your pain is severe or lasts for more than a few days.
Your doctor may prescribe a cortisteroid to take by mouth if your soreness is severe or persistent.
While this problem may be disturbing and frustrating your workout, the good news is that both muscle and joint soreness are mostly preventable and there are some things you can do to speed the recovery process when it does happen.
These tips can help you prevent soreness:
- Adequately hydrate yourself
Drinking plenty of water is one of your best defenses against this pest. Drink half an ounce of water per pound of bodyweight. So, if you’re 200 lbs, drink 100 oz of water daily.
- Good nutrition before workout
The food you eat before you workout is the fuel that your body will use to repair your muscles.
Make sure to eat plenty of good food the day(s) before your heavy training session.
On the day of your training session, you should eat a diet high in protein, complex carbs, and “good, healthy” fats.
- Warmup properly
Warming up can help prevent soreness in your muscle and joints. Perform a joint mobility warmup. Do a general full-body warmup. A mobility exercises specific to your exercise selection will work just fine too.
Do activity-specific exercises that will prime the sections of your body that you’ll be focusing on during your workout session.
For example, if you’re going to be working on squats, it’s best to include some bodyweight squats in your warmup routine and gradually build up to your desired working intensity level.
Your warmup should be for general preparedness (like increasing your body temperature and the elasticity of your joints), and also specific to the activity that you’re going to do as well.
- Regulate your training intensity
This is another key to prevention. Don’t work harder than your body is prepared for.
The more gradually you can increase your performance, the better. Baby steps are better in the long haul and they also ensure you don't get sore muscles and joints.
Warm water will help you ease pressure on your joints and muscles, so a nice warmth bath can do wonders for alleviating joint pain in your knees and hips.
Immerse the affected area in warm water and massage it in order to release blood flow to the muscle.
- Get adequate post workout nutrition
Even a rich post workout shake will do you a lot of good. Consume a carbohydrate to protein ration of 2:1. Eating 50 grams of carbs and 25 grams of protein following your strength session is a good place to begin personal experimentation.
- Ice your muscles
This is mostly for severe cases of DOMS and joint soreness. Putting ice on your muscles and joints will not necessarily aid in the healing process, but it will reduce swelling and pain.
Icing will give you a temporary relief from pain that can serve as a good alternative to taking anti-inflammatory drugs.
Get a massage or massage the sore areas yourself Massage is also for extreme cases of sore muscles.
A massage will have many benefits in terms of muscle relaxation, pain reduction, and stress relief. Just let your masseuse know that you’re already in pain.
- Avoid activities that cause pain
Avoid doing anything that would cause significant pain to your healing body. If you’re experiencing DOMS and joint soreness, then it’s not wise to exercise vigorously until you have fully recovered.
Joint and muscle soreness is a result of doing too much work too soon – creating too much stress for your body to handle at once. It will only compound the problem by training through it.
- Get enough Rest
This is one of the best ways to alleviate joint pain. This will help you restore energy, as well as allow the body to repair itself naturally.
Also, resting in between periods of exercise will allow your body to cope with the demands being made on it, thereby preventing potential joint and muscle pain.
What to do when you suspect soreness in the middle of a workout
If you have moderate to severe joint and muscle pain during exercise, make sure you stop immediately and rest.
Most people can work through mild pain safely.
But if you begin to experiencing a lot of pain during your exercise, even if you’re not doing a particularly joint-taxing workout, it may be an indication that you have inflammation in the joint, or even joint damage that requires treatment.
How to accelerate muscle and joint recovery
When you are have muscle and joint soreness, you would want to do things that would help you speed up recovery so you can start doing your workouts without pain again.
Just like you can prevent and treat joint and muscle soreness, there are also things you can do to speed up the recovery.
Try these tips to speed up your joint and muscle recovery and start giving your 100% during your workout again.
- Working your joints to promote circulation
Stay nimble, even when you are not working out, by moving your arms, wrists, and knees in low-intensity circles.
The opening and closing of your joints will bring fresh synovial fluids to nourish, lubricate, and hydrate these areas, while getting rid of waste and scar tissue.
Rotate clockwise and counterclockwise to prevent imbalances and overuse injuries.
Caution: Do not hyperextend. Keep circles tight to prevent excessive lateral motion so you don’t torque your joints.
- Reduce muscle tension with a foam roller.
If you’re feeling pain or tightness after your workout, you can use a long, semi-soft foam tube to give your muscles a good massage.
Foam rolling will help break up scar tissue and knotting in your fascia, which if left unattended, can lead to nagging aches and pains in your joints.
Roll your sore muscle groups for 30-60 seconds immediately upon waking, before bed, and any time you can spare during the day—the more, the better.
- Get 8 Hours of sleep
Never underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep.
If you’re one of those people who do not get enough sleep, you’re not giving your body enough time to recover and could be making yourself more prone to injuries in the future.
Getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to speed up muscle and recovery. So aim for 7-8 hours per night.
- Keep yourself hydrated
Drinking water after a tough workout will rid your body of toxins and prevent dehydration.
Hydration is very important because dehydrated muscles can quickly become painful muscles. Drink a couple liters of water or more on your workout days.
- Drink a Protein Shake.
Research reports that drinking a protein shake before or after a workout may help reduce the severity of muscle soreness and help you speed up muscle recovery.
A 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein is ideal for recovery.
- Apply Muscle and joint pain reliever Creams.
Topical creams are effective for soothing muscle pain and helping you recover from a tough exercise session.
Topical creams can be bought at the health stores.
- Grab Some Aspirin.
Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve the discomfort from sore muscles and joints, which can speed up your recovery time.
Don’t use NSAIDS regularly without talking to your doctor. Rather, use them sparingly when bouts of soreness kick in.
- Apply Ice
Icing is one of the easiest ways to recover from a tough workout: apply an icepack to your sore muscles and joints for 20 minutes to help them recover faster.
- Stretch Every Day.
Stretching is one of the best things you can do to aid recovery and it helps you prevent future soreness. Stretching is particularly useful on your off days.
Aim for full body stretches and light exercises like squats, lunges, and planks.
- Get a Massage.
Getting a good massage helps break up scar tissue and ease muscle and joint pain.
If you don’t want to spend money on a regular massage, trade massages with your spouse or significant other.
Joint and muscle recovery is a huge issue for people in the fitness sphere. The goal is to restore function to the joints and muscle while preventing further soreness and pain.
Most professional sports persons and body builders experience this one time or the other.
Joint and muscle recovery programs are especially important to them as they can mean the difference between continuing or giving up completely.
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