The delayed onset muscle pain is natural and is a sign that our muscles have begun to experience microtears and with proper recovery and nutrition, should be able to gain more strength and mass.
The pain however varies from person to person, but the level of pain should not be able to keep you from going to work the next day or to prevent you from working out different muscle groups the succeeding days.
Also, the pain should only last 4 days at most, and usually should not last even 2 days.
In the past workouts I had during college, I experienced more pain after workouts than I currently by doing 3 things that I believe help me prevent too much muscle pain.
Warming Up and Proper Stretching After Workout
Before working out, you need to warmup your muscles properly. The reason for this is to prevent muscle damage.
Never stretch muscles before warming up as it increases the chance for muscle damage because a properly warmed up muscle group will be more flexible and far less vulnerable to muscle damage.
The stretching after the workout serves to reduce the development of lactic acid within the muscles.
Lactic acid is a natural occurring chemical that manifests itself whenever a muscle becomes overworked or strained.
Post Workout Meals right after workouts
A bit of carb, plus a bit of protein goes a long way when it comes to reducing the muscle pain and recovering muscle.
There isn’t a need to bloat after the workout, however, even just a small burger or sandwich proved to help my muscle recover and reduce muscle pain by a huge amount.
Men’s Health Hard Body Plan has prescribed using post workout meals as a means of recovering muscle and reducing onset muscle pain and for me it has proved to be very effective.
Plenty of Rest after workout
Getting at least 6 hours of sleep every night will help reduce post-workout muscle pain.
I believe I get to Delta sleep phase within 5-6 hours. Delta sleep is the deepest level of sleep wherein scientists believe our muscles recover faster. In this phase, all voluntary muscle function stops.
I also find waking up naturally helps me feel better rather than waking up via alarm clock as well.