Solutions for Soreness

Physical therapy helps produce long term results and reduce pain. But in the short term after an appointment, many people will experience soreness. It can be hard to decipher what is a healthy amount of soreness and you might need to work with your physical therapist to adjust your exercises. If you are experiencing this after your appointment or at home-exercises, don’t let this pain make you avoid your exercises. Instead, use these tips to help reduce your soreness after exercise.

In most cases, soreness associated with physical therapy stems from the use of muscles that are weak or have not been properly conditioned. This soreness is commonly referred to as “delayed onset muscle soreness” or DOMS. Retraining muscles that are recovering from injury or surgery is a major contributor to DOMS symptoms. DOMS is often present anywhere from a few hours to 24-48 hours after a treatment session or after performing exercises.

The soreness produced by exercises can be a sign that you are actually improving. If your injuries or pain are the result of underused or improperly trained muscles, it’s likely that the exercises and treatments that correct these issues will create some soreness. When you strengthen a muscle, you create tiny tears in the tissue and it is the healing of these tears that result in greater strength over time. This means that some pain is actually proof that your exercises are working.

But how do you manage this pain so that you are not discouraged from continuing therapy and the exercises that can help you recover and improve? Try a few of these tips to push past pain and gain strength faster:

  1. Drink lots of water and electrolytes to help with muscle recovery after activity.
  2. Stretch lightly after your exercises. Stretching can help the body remove pain-causing waste and promote muscle recovery.
  3. Stay active and do your exercises at home. Light or moderate activity and home practice of your exercises will speed up your overall improvement and healing.
  4. Use ice after treatment or exercises to reduce inflammation of tissues. Do not apply ice directly to the skin (use a plastic bag or a paper towel to wrap the ice) and do not apply ice for more than 25 minutes at a time.
  5. Discuss your pain with your therapist and make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly. Your therapist may make adjustments to your exercise plan or recommend an anti-inflammatory medication if necessary.

Always monitor activity and stay in touch with your therapist about what you are feeling. While it’s true that some soreness is a sign that you are increasing mobility and strength, you want to alert your therapist if pain begins to impair your ability to perform daily activities or limits your movement significantly. Our experienced and knowledgeable physical therapists are ready to help guide your push past soreness – let us help you Move Better! Call 434-817-0980 to schedule an appointment or speak with one of our board-certified orthopedic specialty trained physical therapists today.