Struggling with sore muscles? Here’s a course of action to soothe them, so you can be back to your normal routine in no time.
Muscle pain can be caused by exercising after a period of inactivity, taking part in a new or more intensive exercise routine or engaging in exercises that put strain on specific muscle groups, causing inflammation and a pain. You’ll be less likely to experience this soreness the longer you continue doing the same activities that caused the pain in the first place. In the mean time though, intense pain can be debilitating. Some of us have to hold onto things to help us sit down or climb stairs. These tips can help soothe sore muscles so you that you don’t miss out on too many gym sessions.
1.Turn up the heat
Applying heat to sore muscle can have a soothing effect. The temperature increase leads to more blood flow to the area. This brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to assist in healing and repairing the muscle. Try immersing your body in a warm bath or apply a heating pad or creams that cause heat directly to the spot.
Alternatively you can cool it. Apply a cold compress to the tender area for 10 to 20 minutes, within 72 hours after taking part in the strenuous activity. If you’re adventurous run an ice bath as it reduces lactic acid and is known to aid recovery and reduce next-day soreness. That may be a bit too extreme though, so you can also try contrast showering – alternating between hot and cold water – as this will stimulate blood flow, which helps to ease pain and reduce swelling for all the reasons already mentioned.
2. Stock up on Omega 3 and fatty acids
Including healthy fats in your meals, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, help to reduce inflammation naturally. Try taking a daily omega-3 supplement after a strength- training workout. Natural sources include flaxseed oil, extra virgin oil, canola oil, avocado and fatty fish like salmon. Speaking of nutrition, ensure that your post-workout meal (which should ideally be consumed within two hours or 30 minutes if possible), after an exercise session contains the right mix of nutrients. There is strong evidence to suggest that consuming a mix of carbohydrates and protein in the post- exercise period can help ease muscle pain by replenishing depleted energy reserves and repair and rebuild muscle tissue, which all helps to heal your muscles faster.
3. Roll and massage ’em
Massaging eases stiffness and discomfort. Studies show that massage helps reduce the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a critical role in post-exercise inflammatory response. Massage also enhances cell recovery by stimulating mitochondria, which facilitates quicker adaptations to exercise. Massaging muscles with a foam roller can help to work out sore or tight spots from overworked muscles. Commonly referred to as adhesions or knots, direct pressure from massage, foam rollers or even balls and other purpose-made tissue manipulation tools can help to release these areas, where damaged tissue has built up due to all the activity. Use your foam roller by lying on top of it, placing the muscle you wish to roll directly over the foam roller, then roll over the muscle until all tension has been released from tender areas, remembering to pause on those tight hot spots.
4. Don’t be a couch potato
You might be tempted to boycott the gym, but it’s best to resist this urge! While you shouldn’t push your body when suffering from DOMS, it is best to keep moving with a few days of easy workouts to promote blood flow and prevent further muscle damage. This also reduces the likelihood of injury once you return to full-blown exercise. It’s best to continue with your regular routine but keep things light and easy until you have fully recovered.
Is important to differentiate between DOMS and more serious injury. If a specific area is particularly painful and the discomfort persists rather consult your doctor. Lastly, remember that feeling a little pain is often the price you pay for improving your performance and shaping the physique you’re after. Some degree of damage and inflammation needs to happen to elicit the response you’re after. Therefore, as long as the pain isn’t caused by an injury, next-day soreness is actually your fitness friend. Besides, we’ve all heard the saying ‘if it hurts -it’s working’.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.