Why do I ache after exercise?

The medical term for the ache that you get after exercise is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This usually comes on the following day and is at its worst the day after that. This occurs because your muscles are working harder than they are used to. As they get stronger, they adapt to the extra demand that you are asking of them and you’ll be less sore the next time.

There is no cure for DOMS, but you can try treatments such as ice packs, massage, tender-point acupressure, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, and rest may help ease some of the symptoms. I know a massage therapist who recommends a 20-minute soak in the bath with:

  • 10 drops of lavender oil (not suitable for all – check the label)
  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 2 cups of epsom salts

You can also get ready-made bath soaks from health food shops.

There is no reason, why you shouldn’t exercise while you recover – even though you will feel sore. Although you might not avoid DOMS, warming up and gentle stretching before exercise is recommended, since this will improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury.

You can read more about DOMS on the NHS website.