How long do you feel sore after you exercise? Especially if you are old.
July 13, 2010 5:18 AM   Subscribe

After a period of inactivity, my muscles ache for a lot longer than they used to while doing bootcamp like activities. Also, I'm getting old. How long do you feel sore after you do intense exercise?

Short story, I have brief periods of intense exercise followed by years of sloth. Last summer I was in pretty decent shape after teaching myself to do a lot of boxing/training/bootcamp like stuff. Throwing a medicine ball, running sprints, burpees, tabatas and jumping rope. I wasn't so insanely in shape and wasn't doing all that much of it, but I was able to do a few sets and not necessarily feel sore the next morning.

Nursing school did in my exercise routine and I'm just getting back to it after most of a year off.

The last two or three times I've exercised (over the last 2 weeks) I've felt really sore for at least 2 days afterwards. The first time I exercised, I could feel soreness for 4 to 5 days afterwards.

The first day I did two sets of
50 rope jumps
sprint across a football field
10 burpees
30 squats
sprint back
10 medicine ball throws
1 tabata sprint

And felt sore for 4 days.

Two days ago I did 1 set of
50 rope jumps
sprint across field
10 burpees
sprint back
throw medicine ball, sprint to it, throw it again xfootball field
throw medicine ball, crawl to it xfootball field
10 medicine ball throws

Now it's two days post and the back of my arms are still really sore. Nothing else is. I'm not sure what did it. The crawling across football field part is new but didn't feel so exhausting at the time.

It just feels unusual to be this sore for this long. I just turned 35 but this wasn't happening last year. The only difference was that I was teaching myself to do these exercises last year, over a period of a couple of months, so maybe I had more time to acclimate.

Anyway, is it normal to feel sore for several days? I don't feel like what I'm doing is that intense...I didn't even make it to a second set of exercises the other day.

Sorry if this is sort of a stupid question but it's been on my mind.
posted by sully75 to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
It's pretty common to have DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) for a few days (or even several days) after exercise, even after what seems like not-very-intense exercise. If what you did wasn't terribly familiar, you may be exercising muscle groups that haven't been taxed very much in the past (or recently), so they'll take some time to recover.

Don't worry, if it's a dull ache. If you have a sharp pain, that's when you're in trouble, generally, but regular muscle soreness after exercise is what you should be experiencing. It means you're doing the work.
posted by xingcat at 5:29 AM on July 13, 2010

It's not that unusual. If you keep doing this for a while, and the soreness keeps lasting for days after, that would be unusual. You can try googling for DOMS and see what techniques people recommend for avoiding it/lessening it (cherry juice was a new one recently, ice baths, foam rolling, proper warm-up and cool-down), but I think time for acclimation is what you really need.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:29 AM on July 13, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks...for the record, no pain. Just holy sh1t my arms feel like cement.

To be clear: I've been sore in the past, what freaked me out (or at the moment freaks me out) is the multiple day soreness.

F/u question: if I am feeling sore after a day, can I do the same exercise on the sore muscle (2 days after the first exercise)?
posted by sully75 at 5:34 AM on July 13, 2010

F/u question: if I am feeling sore after a day, can I do the same exercise on the sore muscle (2 days after the first exercise)?

Yeah, you can, though it'll probably hurt quite a bit at first. Oddly, I find this is the best way to make the soreness go away faster.

And just to echo what others have already said, what you're experiencing sounds pretty normal. I've done the "start working out again" thing many times, many different ways, and if you ramp back up again quickly after a break, it feels like you describe every time. Once you get used to the exercise, it'll stop happening unless you do something different or more intense.
posted by FishBike at 5:44 AM on July 13, 2010

Seems a bit obvious of me to ask but are you warming up and cooling down properly and doing a proper stretch routine before and after? I like to stretch a bit before I work out to warm up ligaments and tendons and then really stretch out the muscles afterwards.

Also: keep your fluid intake high and make sure you are eating properly - regular carbs and protein and a proper meal within an hour or 2 of a strenuous work-out helps with recovery for me.
posted by evil_esto at 5:50 AM on July 13, 2010

Yes, exercising the same muscles again helps, but warming up and slowly building up your exercising helps prevent it. See Wikipedia: DOMS.
posted by amf at 6:13 AM on July 13, 2010

Note that as wikipedia points out, it's the eccentric part of the exercise -- the part where your muscles are lengthening under a load -- that causes the most soreness.

For reducing soreness, the most important things are eating well and sleeping well. Proper omega-3 and vitamin/mineral intake can help as well.

There's nothing wrong with exercising a sore muscle. Just make sure you do a warmup, and you'll often find the soreness is mostly gone by the time you're done warming up. DOMS that lasts several days is not unusual.
posted by useyourmachinegunarm at 7:16 AM on July 13, 2010

From what I've learned, you'll be doing better if you ease back into this a little more slowly. If you're really sore on day 2 at Least take it really easy, but for the first week or so you might want to do Different stuff, or just skip it and do some light cardio instead.

It's the Recovery that builds the muscle, just tearing those fibers over and over will work, as you'll eventually recover and be stronger, but giving yourself a little more recovery time at first will help you get those muscles healed and stronger Faster, with less pain. And more gain.
posted by ldthomps at 8:08 AM on July 13, 2010

When I started working out again (strength training with a trainer) I could barely WALK for 4 or 5 days afterwards. Then it was intense soreness for 2-3 days. Then, after a month of it, it turned to just being a bit stiff the next day.

That's where I'm at now, having been strength training for a few months now. I feel fine the day I train, and a little stiff the next morning. But it's kind of a good feeling. And it is gone by the end of the second day.

If I go a few weeks without training, my muscle soreness intensifies dramatically after my first training session, then gets easier. So just keep going, and it will get better as long as you're not overtraining or pulling something.
posted by np312 at 8:58 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm a weekend warrior who just turned 36, and I have the same thing as you: I was once in great shape for my sport and wasn't sore much past 1 day after a full-day tournament, if at all. I was playing 2-3 times a week then.

Now I play 1-2 times a week, less strenuously, and when I play in a tournament my major muscle groups (quads mostly) are sore for 5+ days. I think it just comes from not being in regular shape + your body not being as good at healing the damage. I keep hoping that I'll get to play more regularly, which will make the tournaments hurt less. So far no luck- I wish you the best!
posted by Four Flavors at 4:58 PM on July 13, 2010

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