Simple Methods to Reduce Muscle Soreness

Simple Methods to Reduce Muscle Soreness

Sore muscles are a part of any fitness journey. However, knowing it is a part of the process does not make it any more enjoyable. While hitting a new personal record (PR) or crushing a difficult workout are rewarding, dealing with the soreness the following day can hinder continued success. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is normal, but using DOMS as an excuse to skip a workout is unacceptable. In fact, there are several things you can do in the gym to reduce your soreness.

Why Am I So Sore?

When working out, you put your muscles through a lot of stress, eccentric stress in particular. This means you are forcing your muscles to contract while they are elongated. An example of an eccentric movement is lowering a weight while doing a bicep curl. The muscle is lengthening while contracting. Eccentric exercises cause tiny tears in your muscles as well as some inflammation. Both of these result in DOMS. You are more likely to experience DOMS when first starting to work out after a long period of inactivity or when trying new exercises.

Post-Workout Nutrition

Adequate nutrition is vital to any fitness journey, and that includes what you eat after a workout. Providing your body with the appropriate fuel after strenuous exercise can help reduce soreness and improve your results. For example, a greasy burger may sound delicious after a tough workout, but whey protein is much better for your muscles. It also has way less fat and is much better for your overall health.

The main bonus, however, is it helps your muscles recover faster. Unlike that unhealthy burger, whey protein increases muscle protein synthesis. This is important because that is how your body repairs and rebuilds tired muscles. Individuals who work out on a regular basis need about 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Individuals can easily get 20g of whey protein or more by drinking a post-workout protein smoothie. Adding in antioxidant rich fruits like blueberries can help improve recovery as well as they are useful for reducing inflammation.

Active Rest is Best

The last thing you may want to do the day after a difficult workout is go workout some more, but it is not as counterintuitive as it sounds. Light exercise, or active recovery, will do much more than sitting at home or stretching alone can. This is because light exercise stimulates blood flow to your muscles. This increased blood flow to sore muscles helps reduce pain and speeds up recovery. Active rest days can also help you prevent injuries by avoiding overtraining. These days also give you time to focus on mobility and flexibility, which can help you perform better in the gym later. Some examples of active recovery exercises include light jogging, hiking, bike riding, or swimming.

Making Use of Foam Rollers

Much like active rest, foam rolling helps increase blow flow to sore muscles. Foam rollers also help reduce muscle tension and improve your range of motion and flexibility. Foam rolling works best when done on a daily basis. Individuals should strive for 30-60 seconds per muscle group to reduce soreness and speed up recovery time.

Do Not Neglect Your Warm Up and Cool Down

Jumping straight into a workout is asking for an injury. Muscles need time to warm up; it is how you prepare your body for exercise. Warming up increases your heart rate and circulation at a slow and steady pace. Some simple warm up exercises include jumping rope, jumping jacks, body squats, and ballistic stretching.

Cooling down is equally as important as warming up to avoid injuries. It can also help improve your performance later by reducing DOMS. Cool downs serve numerous purposes. These include:

  • Bringing down your heart rate slowly
  • Restoring blood and oxygen to muscles
  • Removing lactic acid
  • Preventing dizziness from blood pooling

A common cool down routine after high intensity exercise consists of light jogging and walking followed by static stretching. For weight lifting, individuals should perform dynamic stretches such as walking lunges and shoulder circles. The goal is to decrease the heart rate at a slow and steady speed until it returns to a more normal range (around 100-120 beats per minute).

Muscle soreness does not have to derail your fitness routine. Having a skilled trainer work with you can help as well. Without utilizing a trainer or coach, you cannot be certain if your form is correct. You may also be under or over training. A professional can help guide your workouts to ensure you get maximum results without injuring yourself. The coaches at LoCoFit Leesburg will help you master exercises and movements and maintain good form, all while helping you achieve your fitness goals. Contact us today to learn more about what we do and how we can help you on your fitness journey.

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