Working out is an essential part of staying healthy, but the soreness that comes after can be painful and disrupt daily life. Many people, especially those new to working out, are unaware that rest and recovery are just as important to the workout itself.
Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is common when starting a new exercise program or increasing the resistance, frequency, or intensity of a current workout program. DOMS comes from a combination of waste products in the muscles and stress-induced microscopic muscle tears and inflammation. Muscle soreness typically begins several hours after the workout and lasts anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.
Although DOMS cannot be completely eliminated, it can be controlled and reduced. One of the keys to a good workout without is doing everything you can to reduce soreness before and after you are finished. Below, are some tips to get your post-workout plans on track:
1. Warm up. Before jumping into a work out, it is best to get your blood flowing and heart rate up. Rather than just stretching cold muscles before a workout, try warming up first to avoid injury and reduce soreness post workout. Examples of warm up activities include jogging, lunges, or squats.
2. Cool down. When you are finished with your workout, don’t just stop. Continuing to move around at a very low intensity for 5 to 10 minutes post-workout can help remove lactic acid from your muscles and may reduce muscles stiffness and soreness.
3. Stretch. Stretching after a tough workout is a simple and fast way to help muscles recover and reduce post-workout soreness. You can also perform stretching exercises before your workout, but after your warm up so that you aren’t stretching cold muscles, which can lead to injury.
4. Apply ice. Placing an ice pack over a sore area is a great way to reduce soreness after a workout because of its numbing capabilities. Ice is effective for constricting the blood flowing to the particular area of pain, which is what makes it so effective for injuries like sprained ankles.
5. Apply heat. Using a heat pack over sore muscles is another great method of pain and soreness relief. Often times, people apply a heat pack after using an ice pack. The ice pack can provide instant pain relief, and application of a heat pack can help with flexibility and restore range of motion.
6. Massage. A massage not only feels good, but improves circulation while allowing the body to fully relax. If done correctly, a massage can help relax muscles that are too tight and alleviate pressure in certain areas. If the price tag of a professional massage is too much, you can try self-massage and using foam roller exercises for easing tight muscles.
7. Eat right. After a workout, these is a maximum of around 2 hours to most efficiently absorb what you eat as energy and repair fuel. If you don’t eat, your body may not have enough carbohydrate energy for your next workout, protein to repair muscles, or healthy fat for your hormones and joints. Make sure you eat whole-grain, high-protein foods – or a protein smoothie could work just as well.
8. Hydrate. Just like the body, muscle cells need water. When it comes to recovery, dehydration is one of your biggest enemies. Make sure you stay hydrated before, during, and after a workout.
Painful muscle soreness is generally an indication that the intensity or frequency of a workout was increased, or that recovery did not occur properly. There is no reason why getting in shape should be painful. Although there is no one-stop solution for reducing post-workout soreness, there are plenty of choices and options available.