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Dear Sore Muscles

Expert Panel Question???

Question: “I’m 60 yrs old and my muscles are always sore after or sometimes during the run. I run about 45 to 60 minutes four times a week and weight train twice a week. What causes the soreness?”

(ask your questions to the UtahRunning.com Experts here)


Dear sore muscles – there are many causes of more noticeable muscle soreness (myalgias) that occur with or after activity – one of which, of course, is your age but let’s not go there yet. Questions I would ask are the following: are you taking any medications, particularly those for blood pressure, cholesterol, restless leg syndrome or prostate symptoms. Cholesterol lowering medications in particular have been known to cause myalgias even months after a person has been taking them.

The most common complaint is a sense of having done a hard workout even when that hasn’t been the case. The muscles are often sore to touch and seem to cramp easily. Many blood pressure medications have a mild diuretic (water pill) as a component of their formula and these can affect important electrolytes necessary for effective muscle contractions such as sodium, potassium and magnesium. Others contain medications that cause blood vessels to respond more slowly to changes in muscle blood flow needs. Aside from medications, proper hydration is always a concern with muscle cramps as is adequate dietary sodium intake especially if you sweat heavily during exercise.

A dehydrated muscle tends to cramp or become sore more easily. Another more insidious cause of muscle soreness with exercise is lack of adequate blood flow to the exercising muscle group. This can result from either cholesterol deposition in the arteries, arteries that get unduly compressed by the working muscles they travel through or exercise induced pressure increases within the compartments containing the muscles thus slowing blood flow to the muscles themselves.

Other possibilities include: spinal nerve compression with activity that inflames the nerves to the muscles thus not allowing the muscles to fully relax and remain tight longer than they should; Inadequate recovery between bouts of activity – the time to recover from an exercise session, whether it be running or weight training, increases as we age; Improper warm up and warm down routines – again, each of these need to be lengthened as the years advance; Inadequate sleep – so necessary for our active muscles to wind down before our next exercise session. For these latter causes, if your finances allow, a weekly deep tissue massage can work wonders as a preventive measure.

Regardless of the cause, if you find yourself constantly reaching for the Ibuprofen just to keep going you should probably consider an evaluation including possibly a few blood tests.

by Steve Scharmann MD,
Sports Medicine, Family Practice | Competitive Runner/Triathlete

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 at 10:01 am and is filed under Expert Answers, Injuries and Pain, Training. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

2 responses to “Dear Sore Muscles”

  1. Seth says:

    Hey Dr. Scharmann, very interesting regarding the dehydration effect of bp medicines. At 50, I can’t do without my ionic mag supplement.

  2. Mark says:

    Interesting article. Muscle soreness is, I think, something that we all expect to deal with to a degree when working out; however you don’t release the extent of pain that dehydration can cause.

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