Muscle aches compromise athletes’ workouts, but also disturb those who practice physical activity for health and regardless of age. Their causes are different and in the classification of muscle injuries in addition to actual “tears”, “functional” muscle disorders are now also described, where in reality there is no muscle injury.

Acute muscle injuries
They range from 1st to 3rd degree according to the quantity of damaged muscle fibers. The pain is very acute, disabling and is often associated with the formation of an intramuscular hematoma and bruising on the skin. Ultrasound shows muscle damage. Recognizing functional disorders immediately is, on the other hand, important because it helps to avoid acute muscle injuries.

Immediate and delayed muscle
pain Immediate pain is pain caused by muscle fatigue or overload of work. It presents with a widespread increase in muscle tone that affects the entire muscle, and which appears during the activity or immediately after it, but in any case within 24 hours from the end of the same. There is never a focal point of pain and pain is not always present at rest.
As in all functional disorders, ultrasound and MRI are negative. The pains that appear after 24 hours from the end of a workout, a walk in the mountains or a session in the gym, are delayed muscle pain, referred to as DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness). The cause of the pain is the eccentric muscle contraction in lengthening which causes damage to the muscle fibers and their connective support.
A trek that is too long at the start of the season, a workout in the gym that is too hard, new workouts that are unusual for the period cause these problems. Pain is also present at rest and stretching reduces muscle soreness. Radiological investigations (ultrasound / MRI) are negative or sometimes show a state of inflammation with widespread edema. Control of blood tests may show an increase in CPK creatine phosphokinase.

Neuromuscular disorders dependent on the lumbosacral spine
In this case there is a widespread increase in muscle tone due to a functional disorder starting from the lumbosacral spine (L5-S1 disc disease, lumbosacral arthrosis, spinal canal stenosis, spondylolysis, hyperlordosis, etc) or from the sacroiliac joints. Pain is not present at rest, but only during activity. The muscles most affected are the sural triceps (calf), knee flexors, rectus femoris and adductors. The radiological investigations are negative or show a moderate edema between the muscle and the fascia.

Muscle-dependent neuromuscular disorders
There is a limited increase in muscle tone caused by an alteration of neuromuscular control that coordinates the activity of the agonist and antagonist muscles, that is, of the muscles that perform opposite activities. For example the quadriceps that extends the knee and the hamstrings that flex it. Failure to relax the antagonists (hamstring) is associated with an increase in tone in the agonists (quadriceps).
Insufficient warm-up or a sudden change in direction or speed of running are associated with the injury. Radiological investigations are negative or show widespread edema and the presence of muscle fibrosis. The latter, due to age and years of sports practice, worsens the problems because the cicatricial reparative phenomena also reduce vascularization, and cause recurrent cramping episodes during physical activity.

Muscle aches: how to take care of your muscles

Stretching. It is essential to reduce post-activity muscle pain. Do not do it only in immediate pain, while in neuromuscular disorders caused by the muscle itself, perform them dynamically, without a static phase, so as to restore the balance between agonist and antagonist muscles. Never stretch without a warm-up.

Massage . It is essential to relax the muscles. Prefer the manual one to the instrumental one.

Ice . Apply it immediately after training on the muscles and tendons for about 10 minutes. You can also immerse the lower limbs in cold water or in water and ice, for 10 minutes at a temperature of about 15 ° C.

Heat. Use it only after at least 24 hours of training or competition, and only if you haven’t had a real muscle injury. It increases blood circulation by providing greater nourishment to the suffering muscle.

NSAIDs . Anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to relieve muscle pain, but they can delay muscle repair processes. Therefore they should be used with discretion and after consulting the specialist.

Compression stockings, sweaters and tights . Compression clothing such as compression socks (compression socks) reduce muscle strain during activity and after exertion allow a faster recovery.

Hydration and nutrition. Those who are dehydrated are more likely to encounter muscle fatigue and neuromuscular disorders. The same is true for those who have not adequately consumed carbohydrates before a demanding workout. The mixtures of amino acids and maltodextrins are very effective in promoting recovery and must be taken within 30 minutes of the end of the effort.

Posture . Use the lumbar support, and if it’s not there, buy it and put it on your car. Long car trips can disrupt the spine and cause neuromuscular disorders. If you spend many hours sitting in the office or in front of the PC at home, sit in an ergonomic chair that respects your spine and thus does not irritate the sciatic nerve.

Natural Supplements For Muscle Aches
Taking instead ofnatural anti-inflammatories based on cucurma, collagen and vitamin C , contribute to the healing of the muscle and the restoration of its functional balance. Such as the NoDol line , able to relieve muscle and joint pain caused by excessive sporting activity, sprains, incorrect posture and musculoskeletal pathologies. Also useful is the topical application on the painful muscle of gels containing arnica, aescin and devil’s claw .

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