- 1 Sore muscles – A sign of positive change?
- 2 What exactly are sore muscles?
- 3 Muscle treatments during your workout
- 4 Muscle treatments after your workout
- 5 Muscle treatments for the day after
- 6 Is A Painkiller the Best Option for Easing Muscle Soreness?
Sore muscles – A sign of positive change?
Aching after an intense workout? It’s a common myth that sore muscles are proof of an excellent and brutal workout, and that they indicate that your body is changing positively. But according to recent studies, workout quality and sore muscles are not directly related. They mean that you’ve pushed your body too far or are trying out new exercises which your body isn’t used to.
What exactly are sore muscles?
Delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS is another name for sore muscles. DOMS usually sets in a few days after an intense workout and is caused by microscopic tears, created in your muscle tissue during a strenuous fitness routine. Your body responds with pain and makes you feel the burn while healing and rebuilding your muscles to ensure you don’t over-train yourself. However, with the right steps, you can easily work hard without worrying about sore muscles.
Luckily, there are simple solutions you can try if you get a bit enthusiastic in the gym. This pre- and post-workout muscle treatments can help relieve the pain and speed the recovery after an intense exercise regimen.
Muscle treatments during your workout
The best way to prevent injury and muscle soreness is to add the following in your daily exercise regimen:
A stretch and warm-up routine before your workout will help your body prepare for the intense workout and will limit the effects of DOMS. It is advisable to perform static stretches along with gentle dynamic stretches before your exercise regimen. Examples of dynamic stretches include gentle walking lunges and swinging your legs. You can check out YouTube videos for more detailed stretching routines.
2. Warming up before weight training
Heading straight to the weight racks as soon as you reach the gym is one of the biggest reasons behind severe DOMS. Lifting weights without proper preparation also increases the risk of pulling a muscle, ligament, or a tendon during your fitness routine. It is better to do the cardio portion first to warm up your muscles. If you’re following a weights-only workout, a heart-pumping routine like jumping jacks or jump rope is necessary for your warm-up to prepare your muscles for the intense workout ahead.
3. Keep yourself hydrated
Keeping yourself hydrated before and during your fitness routine is essential to reduce inflammation and prevent cramping and muscle soreness. And believe it or not, the best option for most exercisers is water. However, if you’re sweating excessively because of exercising in hot weather or a vigorous exercise regimen, you can replace sodium and electrolytes with a sports beverage, along with hydrating with water. Just make sure you have a low-calorie drink so that you don’t gain back all the calories you’re trying so hard to burn.
3. Work out with the correct form
Knowing your posture during your fitness routine can help prevent unnecessary DOMS. It is essential that you choose your weights according to your form as you will experience less soreness and will benefit more by lifting 50 pounds properly rather than by lifting 100 pounds incorrectly.
Muscle treatments after your workout
Try to resist the urge to fall into the nearest bed or chair and try to help your body repair the damaged muscles.
1. Heat up after your workout session
Use a heating pad or any other heat source a few hours after a vigorous workout session. Muscle tightness usually causes immense pain, and a heating pad can help stimulate the blood flow and loosen up sore muscles, speeding up the repairing and healing process.
2. Soak in an ice bath
Professional athletes are highly encouraged to jump in an ice bath after an intense workout and soak for at least 10 minutes, and amateur athletes should do the same. Ice baths have proven to substantially reduce muscle soreness as compared to resting after a workout.
3. Add pineapple and tart cherries to your diet
Pineapples contain an enzyme called Bromelain which has anti-inflammatory benefits, making it more effective than anti-inflammatory medications. Recent studies have shown that even tart cherries or tart cherry juice contain hidden anti-inflammatory powers which help decrease inflammation in the body. Aside from pineapples and tart cherries, you can also purchase bromelain supplements from an online or a health food store.
Muscle treatments for the day after
1. Use your sore muscles
An excellent way to avoid soreness is to use your aching muscles in a non-resistant way during the following day. For example, if you are experiencing soreness from skiing, you should take a bike ride the day after.
2. Try some self-massage
One of the best treatments for sore muscles is massage. However, if you’re experiencing immense muscle soreness and cannot bear the thought of someone else touching them, you can try some self-massage. This will allow you to control the pressure, relaxing sore muscles and relieving the tension at the same time. For self-messaging, you can use a foam roller or a massage stick.
3. Apply ice during recovery
Though an ice bath helps relieve muscle soreness immediately after your fitness routine, applying some ice will help alleviate the soreness which occurs the day after. It was previously believed that muscle soreness was because of a buildup of lactic acid, but recent studies have shown the real cause to be inflammation. Applying ice helps reduce the inflammation in sore muscles.
4. Use a foam roll
As mentioned above, using a foam roller can help relieve muscle soreness, significantly decreasing DOMS at the same time. It is advisable to give at least five rolls to each muscle group, starting with the calves. Continue moving up the body, giving extra rolls to sore spots. For a more detailed foam rolling tutorial, check out YouTube videos.
5. Eat for a quick recovery
Make sure you get all the healthy proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, even if you’re maintaining a diet. It is essential that you get enough as they help maintain and repair muscles while easing muscle soreness at the same time.
Your daily morning coffee does more than just wake you up before your early fitness routine. Recent studies have shown that drinking coffee before your exercise regimen helps reduce fatigue and muscle soreness by almost half. It is advisable to have 2 cups of coffee before your workout, assuming you have no medical condition which requires you to limit the use of caffeine. Coffee can also enhance endurance, allowing you to exercise for a longer time.
Is A Painkiller the Best Option for Easing Muscle Soreness?
Taking some vitamin I or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen can substantially reduce DOMS and ease muscle soreness. But, like every other medicine, the relief has a price.
Recent studies have linked NSAIDs, including ibuprofen to severe medical conditions such as intestinal dysfunction, cardiovascular issues, and suppressed protein synthesis post-exercise. However, taking a few capsules occasionally to ease muscle soreness will probably not cause any serious damage, but consult your doctor before you start taking it regularly. If you want to learn more about the benefits and risks of painkillers, you can read medical journals and articles available on the Internet.