If you’re a new exerciser or simply beginning a new exercise program that your body is unfamiliar, muscle soreness can be a real pain ;). The soreness you feel is called DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, and it’s perfectly normal. In fact, that pain you’re feeling is actual CHANGE occurring in your body…which, of course, is the point right?
Your muscles will feel swollen, stiff, and less flexible for a day or two after the activity. Depending on which muscle groups you exercised, you might find it difficult to walk up stairs, stand-up from a seated position, lift your arms, sit up, etc. What has happened is that microscopic tearing and swelling has occurred in your muscles, and this is a perfectly normal part of how your muscles gain strength and grow.
Stretching before and after exercise, and incorporating a warm-up and cool-down period before and after exercise can definitely help a lot. Also, new exercisers should increase their level of activity and intensity gradually and not in big boot-camp like leaps. Remember, Tony Horton says, “Do your best and forget the rest”. You’re not in competition with anyone on screen when you’re just starting out. Do your best, and modify the movements and your intensity to suit your current level of fitness.
If you do experience DOMS, stretch and massage the affected areas. Non-steroidal, anti-inflamatory drugs can be used for pain, but I recommend using pain relievers sparingly if at all. Drink lots of water, and remember, DOMS will pass…just give it a little time.