A tough workout will no doubt leave you feeling great. But the sense of accomplishment you feel shouldn’t be ruined by the muscle soreness that you are likely to feel later. This soreness, which is actually called delayed-onset muscle soreness, DOMS for short, is caused by microscopic muscle tissue tears created during intense exercise. DOMS is a biological reminder that rest is crucial for recovery after these types of workouts.
Just because you are sore doesn’t mean that you have to suffer with the pain, however. Plunkett Fitness has a few tips to help you relieve this soreness.
One of the best things that you can do for DOMS is to stay hydrated. It is so easy for all of us to forget to get enough water every day. However, dehydration has been shown to increase muscle soreness. Since dehydration can increase muscle soreness, professionals believe that staying hydrated can help decrease muscle soreness.
A theory behind hydration being a factor in muscle soreness postulates that water helps to flush out waste and toxins. As muscles break down, they release toxins, and drinking water can help flush the toxins out more quickly.
While you need to give your body time to recover, you need to continue to move—even when it is a bit painful. Movement will keep blood flowing throughout the body, which is the best way to deliver necessary nutrients and oxygen to your muscles as they recover.
Movement is critical, but it is important that you don’t overdo it. A walk or short bike ride can be great to help ease soreness, but you don’t want to go back to another intense workout during the recovery process. Doing too much when you are already sore could lead to injuries.
Light stretching can help reduce the tightness you are feeling in your sore muscles. While light stretching won’t help your muscles repair themselves any faster, it can lead to improved range of motion, which will help reduce the tension that you feel in the muscle. Overstretching muscles can cause the muscles to get even tighter, however. Be very careful that you don’t overstretch and cause further problems. Experts say that you should stretch until the muscle feels pretty tight but let go after five to ten seconds. Never let the stretch get to the point that feels unbearable.
Protein helps build and maintain muscle, which is critical to helping muscles recover. After a tough workout, eating foods that are high in protein can help aid in recovery and reduce soreness. While it is recommended that you eat protein after a workout, that doesn’t mean that you need to eat excessive amounts of protein. We recommend that you eat 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This means that a person who weighs 150 pounds will need 95 to 136 grams of protein per day, which should be split up between all of your meals for the day.
Ice the Area
After a tough workout, ice baths or using an ice pack can help reduce inflammation in the muscles to reduce soreness. College and professional athletes often swear by a 10-minute soak in an ice bath following workouts. If you don’t have access to an ice bath, an ice pack can provide the same benefit, especially when used right after a workout.
Heat can help reduce tension in muscles, so a few minutes with a heating pad on the sore muscles can help relieve some soreness that will allow you to move around with less pain. You can also take a warm bath to relieve some of the pain from muscle soreness. Generally, you should wait until 24 to 48 hours of soreness before using heat to alleviate muscle tension.
Get a Massage
A sports massage can help loosen up those tight, sore muscles that are trying to rebuild after your intense workout. Many athletes will use these massages to increase blood flow to the area to get them back on their feet a little faster after their most intense workouts. A sports massage should use light pressure to prevent more problems with the sore muscles.
Give it Time
Unfortunately, sometimes the only thing that you can do is give your muscles the time that they need to recover. The necessary recovery time will depend both on the person and the intensity of the soreness. If it normally only takes a couple of days for your muscles to recover, you will probably be fine to get back into your normal routine at that time. However, listen to your body. A very strenuous workout could require a longer recovery time than you are used to.
If you are looking for a place that will encourage you to push yourself during hard workouts, look no further than Plunkett Fitness. Our Overland Park gym is the perfect place for personal and group training classes for those in the Kansas City area. To get started with our trainers, give us a call today at 913-390-3360.