Why do we experience muscle soreness (myalgia) following a task (gardening, shoveling, painting, etc.) or significant energy expenditure?
Muscle soreness occurs when one overworks muscles that are not regularly used. The involved body parts then become painful.
This type of pain is caused by damage to the muscle fibres (microlesions). The pain can be felt immediately, the next day or two days after.
This is why it is important to prepare your body before any kind of effort.
Different types of injuries also cause muscle pain:
- Elongation or contraction
Did you know?
The human body has about 400 joints, which consist of the junctions between two extremities of bone. These complex structures contain various tissues, including the connective tissues (support), cartilage, membranes, synovial fluid and ligaments. Joint pain is felt when inflammation occurs at the joints.
Symptoms may be very simple, such as pain of varying intensities. They can be short-lived or persistent. Lack of flexibility can also cause joint pain.
We tend to associate joint pain with aging, but this isn’t necessarily true. While joints are affected by aging, particularly the deterioration of cartilage and the hardening of tissues, this type of pain can occur at any age.
Joint pain can be felt after a sprain, dislocation, elongation or, any type of trauma.
Bruises or Bumps?
Contusion, bruising, hematoma… These are painful words!
A bicycle crash? An unfortunate smack of a hammer off your finger? Hit your knee on the corner of a coffee table? When we knock into something or fall, we yell out “ouch,” “ow,” or “ooh.” The expressions vary almost as much as the benign traumas that we have trouble finding words for.
What is a bruise?
A bruise most often appears after a contusion, a light impact, or a fall. It is formed when blood escapes from the blood vessels and remains under the skin. It can take on a blue, black, or purplish colour, and does not disappear when you apply a slight pressure on it. Its texture depends on the severity of the impact and the vascularity of the affected region. Normally, the light blue hue disappears within one or two weeks.
What is a contusion?
A contusion is an injury caused by an impact that does not break the skin, i.e. without an obvious wound. It’s a normal bodily reaction.
What is a subcutaneous hematoma?
Commonly call a “bump,” a hematoma may appear as a result of an impact (with a ball, for example), a falling object, or repeated impacts. It is characterized by an effusion of blood under the skin that is larger and more prominent than the bruise. Normally, a subcutaneous hematoma fades within a few weeks. On the scalp, it can form a significant bump commonly called a “goose egg.”
Bruises and bumps are the result of mild trauma and can be relieved by a supplementary local treatment, such as the application of Arnicare Gel or Cream.
Muscle soreness most often appears the day after exercise and especially after downhill runs or physical efforts done against gravity, such as bodybuilding.
What is stiffness?
Stiffness is muscle pain, which can appear immediately after or a few hours after the effort, often reaching its peak the next day.
It is the result of micro-lesions in the muscle fibres, which translate into sharp, ongoing pain.
Muscle stiffness can be caused by:
- Excessive and intense use of a particular muscle (whether it be the lower muscles such as the hamstrings and quadriceps, or the upper muscles such as the biceps, pectorals or shoulder muscles).
- Dehydration that leads to a lack of oxygen in the muscles.
- Physical effort done after a long period of inactivity.
How to avoid it
There are many preventative measures that can be taken to avoid muscle soreness.
First of all, you should hydrate as much as possible to eliminate lactic acid. Be sure to drink regularly during exercise, but also before and after physical exercise.
In order to prevent muscle soreness, it is also advisable to train regularly, preferably at least 1-2 times per week, so that your muscles become accustomed to the effort. In addition, be sure to do your physical exercises in a pyramidal fashion, and not to overwork your muscles during your workouts.
Additionally, stretching is essential to avoid the onset of muscle soreness, so consider warming up before exercising and stretching after your session, allowing your muscles to relax and recover.
How to find relief
Specific care measures and actions can be used to treat muscle soreness:
- Alleviate body aches with heat after exercise by taking hot showers or baths.
- Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables. After the physical effort, it is recommended to consume foods rich in vitamins and potassium to combat muscle contractions.
- Drink small amounts of water regularly to combat continuous muscle soreness. This will irrigate your muscles and therefore contribute to pain relief.
- Make an appointment with a health care practitioner if the pain persists for more than 36 hours.
- Use Arnicare Sport, a chewable homeopathic medicine, to relieve your aches.
Muscle cramps appear as a result of intense efforts involving a particular muscle (biceps or triceps, quadriceps and calves…).
What is a muscle cramp?
A muscle cramp is a sudden, involuntary and painful muscular contraction which can last up to a few minutes.
Unlike a muscle contraction, which can take place over a much longer period (from a few days to over a week), the muscle cramp disappears spontaneously and is usually not accompanied by chronic pain.
It is worth noting that a muscle cramp can appear during or after exercise.
The causes of muscle cramps vary from one individual to another, and may be related to:
- Dehydration: a lack of water in the body and in the muscles can lead to painful muscle contractions.
- Skipping the warm-up: many athletes tend to ignore this essential step before a physical effort, leading to repeated muscle cramps.
- Overtraining or overuse of the muscles.
- Lack of stretching: done after exercise. This allows for a better recovery.
How to avoid them
In most cases, muscle cramps are directly related to a lack of hydration on the part of the athlete. In order to prevent this phenomenon, stay hydrated throughout the day and more particularly before, during, and after the physical effort. It is recommended that those who practice sports regularly drink at least 2 litres of water per day.
The cramps may also be explained by a lack of magnesium. In fact, when the body is lacking a micronutrient such as magnesium or potassium, there is an increased risk of cramps. These deficiencies cause an imbalance in your metabolism and cellular exchanges. So make sure that you eat a balanced diet without any nutrient deficiencies.
The lack of a good warm-up is the second-leading cause of muscle cramps. It is therefore recommended to stretch your muscles before exercise to prevent not only cramping, but also muscle injuries. We recommend that you repeat the same moves at the end of your physical effort in order to allow your muscles to best recover.
Finally, be sure not to overtrain. Adjust your training pace to your physical fitness. It is recommended not to exceed a maximum of 4 training days per week. This will allow your body to recover and therefore prevent cramps and other muscle pain.
How can you find relief?
In order to relieve a muscle cramp, it is first recommended to stretch the muscle in question. Hydrate upon the onset of the cramp and after the disappearance of symptoms, in order to prevent another muscle cramp.
You can also use Arnicare Sport to relieve cramps.
Muscle fatigue particularly affects athletes who train for a long duration, for example, swimming, cycling or running.
What is it?
Muscle fatigue translates into a physical impairment at the muscular level. In most cases, this muscle weakness translates into a loss of power and a state of increased fatigue.
This type of fatigue occurs before all other physiological conditions and differs from biological (chronic) and functional conditions.
Muscle fatigue is a one-time phenomenon. Most often, it appears as a result of a major physical effort or may be related to an accumulation of repetitive strain.
The causes of muscle fatigue are varied. From a scientific point of view, it can be linked to:
- A high consumption of glycogen* (a phenomenon that can lead to hypoglycemia).
* Glycogen is the form in which glucose is stored in the body, mainly inside muscles and the liver.
- Consuming lipids after a physical effort*
* Fat is the most readily-available form of muscular energy. But to be usable by muscles, lipids must undergo a transformation that consumes oxygen and glycogen. During an intense effort, the muscle consumes double the amount of glycogen (sugar destocking and lipid transformation).
- A big loss of water due to the physical effort (which leads to a drop in blood volume).
From a more general point of view, this muscle weakness can be explained by:
- Low hydration before, during, and after the physical effort.
- An excess of physical exercise: many athletes go beyond their limits and neglect the rest, which allows the body and the muscles to recover, leading to muscle cramps.
- Inadequate nutrition: an excess of fat is harmful to the body and prevents a balanced nutritional intake.
However, a suitable intake of lipids (omega 3s and 6s) is essential prior to intense and prolonged physical efforts. This allows one to preserve glycogen stocks (therefore preventing hypoglycemia) and protein (which contributes to 10% of energy intake during exercise), especially if there are insufficient fat reserves (lean subjects).
What are the symptoms?
There are many symptoms of muscle fatigue:
- Involuntary and painful muscle contractions (i.e. muscle cramps)
- Muscle twitches (sudden uncontrolled muscle movement)
- Muscle stiffness (or body aches)
The above symptoms usually indicate the onset of muscle fatigue.