You're asking and I'm answering . . .
I was so proud of myself doing lunges on my Wii Fit the other day — the trainer even said I did a GREAT JOB. Such a great job that I have been in pain for the last three days and I fee like an old lady! I know muscles ache sometimes after working them, but this has been 3 days. Did I do something wrong? Did I need to stretch afterwards? Is there anything I can do now to help the ache? It's become difficult to sit down in a chair and also even walk down the stairs. Help!
— Lunging Lucy
While many of us might enjoy a little post workout pain as a pleasant reminder of how hard we worked, too much of this pain can feel downright debilitating. To see how you can deal with this pain read more.
What you are experiencing is known as Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness (DOMS). The pain is usually felt 12 to 48 hours after exercising, but can last as long as a week. Although it is annoying and painful, it is the normal muscular response to new challenges, which in your case were lunges. The cause of the pain is thought to come from microscopic tears in the muscles and the swelling associated with those tears. On the bright side, once the pain subsides the sore muscles will be stronger and have more stamina.
In 2007, an Australian study found the stretching did not relieve the pain associated with DOMS. I feel though that stretching the muscles when sore helps to build more elasticity in the new muscle fibers. The soreness should go away by itself, but do avoid any vigorous activity that makes the pain worse. Light aerobic exercise can help the healing process by bringing fresh blood to the sore muscles. Some people find pain relief in massage, although this doesn't necessarily improve muscular function. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) like ibuprofen can help relieve the pain, but like massage this will not speed your recovery time.
People often quit exercising because they hate dealing with DOMS, but I am here to encourage you to keep going. Don't forget to warm up before exercising and try slowly building up the number of reps you do.