Okay. So. You’re into your new workout program and bustin’ your butt to make some progress. Then you wake up the next day and your muscles are so sore that you can’t move. The last thing you want to think about it getting back into the gym for more. But you have to get moving. Once you get your muscles warmed up and you get going a little bit it helps with the soreness. Trust me. This is the point where many people give up because of the pain/discomfort. A little little soreness and discomfort is okay and shows that you are progressing. Just don’t go overboard on me here… I’m not suggesting that you go so hard that you’re pulling all your muscles and doing more harm than good. That being said, I am going to share some tips with you on how to prevent muscle soreness to help prevent this and you can continue on with a successful health journey.
First of all, lets take a look into how we develop soreness from exercise. Where does muscle soreness come from? If you’re getting technical, you may see the acronym “DOMS” which stands for delayed onset muscle soreness. Your muscles may get fatigued during your workout, but the soreness doesn’t creep up usually until hours later or the next day. Old studies would tell you that muscle soreness is a result of a build up of lactic acid in the muscle. This is probably the theory you’re most familiar with. However, most recent research has shown that this is not the case. Lactic acid is actually used as fuel by the muscle when sufficient amounts of oxygen are not available and only stays in our muscles for an hour or 2 post workout.
So if lactic acid isn’t the culprit then who is? DOMS is a result of micro-tears in the muscle fibers. I know how that sounds, but it’s not a bad thing. This is what causes your muscle to grow and get stronger. The body repairs these micro-tears making your muscle fibers stronger and larger. This is why after a period of time you are able to continue to increase your strength and size, because they keep breaking and repairing over and over.
Now, how do we prevent this from happening?
- Ice it. Ever notice how professional athletes will sit in an ice bath after training or games? It’s because it works. Icing your muscles helps to reduce inflammation and soreness.
- Warm up first. Doing a light 5-10 minute warm up can help get the blood flowing to your muscles and prevent muscle soreness.
- Massage your sore spots. Ever heard of foam rolling*? Massaging has been shown to help reduce inflammatory compounds contributing to the soreness in our muscles.
- Replace your electrolytes. I know we all have “drink more water” engraved in our brains, but if you’re are sweating significantly and only drinking water you are sweating out those electrolytes and further diluting them if you are only hydrating with water. These electrolytes can be replenished by food and/or supplements.
- Take a craaaazy shower. What do I mean by crazy? For this shower you would alternate between freezing cold and as hot as you can take (don’t burn yourself!). Turn the shower on cold and hop in for as long as you can stand it then switch it to hot and do the same thing. Keep alternating back and forth for about 5 minutes and then proceed with your normal shower routine. The reason behind this is that it gets the blood vessels to expand with the hot water and contract with the cold water; this gets blood flowing to the muscles allowing them to transport nutrients to the muscle.
Just another reminder that feeling some soreness can be a good thing. If you’re a beginner it may take some time to figure out where your limits are, just make sure to be safe!
Okay now go get your workout in!
Do you have any tips/tricks that helps you prevent muscle soreness after a workout?
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