No pain, no gain. This is quite a common perception if you want to achieve goals like beautiful skin, a smaller waistline, and a better body shape. That is why people easily accept the idea of possible pain and tends to really crash hard in working out to gain positive results. So when you don’t feel any muscle pain or soreness, you upped the load of your exercise.
As such, sore muscles are even considered to be a badge of honor symbolizing how serious you’ve worked at the gym or the intensity of your training. But aside from indulging too much in the feeling of satisfaction, you must pay attention to how to treat your muscles after a workout and how recovery should be done. After all, it is important to ease the pain and soreness so as to prevent it from leading to an injury.
Why do muscles feel sore after a workout?
When you trudge home after pushing yourself too hard at the gym, it is normal to expect achy muscles in about a few hours. Typically, the soreness develops around 6 to 8 hours after a strenuous activity. This is categorized as Immediate Muscle Soreness and as the name suggests you’ll feel the stiffness and achiness as an indication of your muscles being tired right after you’re done with your exercise. Meanwhile, the second type of soreness may take effect around 24 to 48 hours post-training which is commonly called as Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This condition pertains to the possible micro-tears in the muscle fiber or muscle tissue which may linger for two to three days. Any activity can cause DOMS and common symptoms aside from stiffness are slight swelling, difficulty in joint mobility which makes it hard to move any particularly affected joints, reduced strength, decrease of speed in terms of muscle contractibility and of course increase of tenderness in the affected muscles. It is important to be able to determine DOMS and not be mistaken for other kinds of pain such as immediate soreness, acute muscle strains or sharp pain due to sprains.
However, DOMS is not entirely a negative factor because you can use it as a physiologically positive reaction as well as an indicator of how your muscles are growing and getting stronger.
Without the intent of being a masochist, muscle stiffness and soreness is perceived to be normal and considered to be a sign of improvement of your fitness level. However, it is a misconception because the quality of work and soreness doesn’t actually go hand in hand. It is not a requirement for you to be sore all over or worse be crippled the next day. Indeed, it isn’t a necessity but it is also something you can’t avoid. So when you feel the burning pain of muscle stiffness, take time to recover and rebuild your muscles with the right steps and effective quick fixes!
Best Ways to Relieve Sore Muscles
If you want to achieve your fitness goals, you need to be able to handle muscle soreness and the drawbacks of DOMS so it is important to know how to bounce back from pain. It is understandable to be fired up with your workout routine but you must not just focus in over-training yourself. Intensifying your fitness regimen is not bad but you must also learn the necessity of healing your body with the best ways to treat your muscles and affected joints. Try these effective muscle-fixes that can help you lessen the impact as well as help you to heal better and faster during your recovery period.
Make sure that you are quite ready before you deeply immerse yourself in your fitness training. That is why never neglect the important role of stretching in any exercise. Aside from that, you have to include the following in your fitness plans:
- Warm-up by stretching your muscles to fully prepare your entire body for the workout.
- Don’t simply rely on static stretches. Swing your legs and even gentle walking lunges can make a difference.
- Drink enough water before you start your workout because hydration prevents cramping, inflammation and muscle soreness.
- Learn the proper and correct form. Particularly when lifting weights, be aware of your form or posture so as to avoid DOMS or worse, a possible injury.
Hot versus Cold Treatment
We often get confused whether you should use the hot pack or cold pack in treating sore muscles. However, both can be a good therapy and alternate them both are also recommended to relieve muscle damage or soreness.
Heat treatment is best used to relax your sore or tightened muscles and promote blood flow. You can use dry heat pack such as heat compress using hot bottled water, electrical heating pads, or a heat wrap. There are also medications you can buy online like rubs or specially designed hot patches. You may also try soaking the affected body part in a hot bath wherein the water must be around 92 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or within the range of 33 to 37.7 degrees Celsius. Don’t apply direct heat to avoid burning or over-heat exposure. It must be applied for 20 minutes duration only and up to three times a day; though it may change depending on the indication prescribed by your health provider.
On the other hand, cold treatment reduces inflammation, numbs sore muscles, decreases the risk of swelling as it takes up the role of local anesthetic. It is best applied within 48 hours after an injury. With an ice pack, massage the affected area in a circular motion for 20 minutes in every 4 to 6hrs for a good 3 day healing period.
Either way, you must be keen on using the two types of treatment. Make sure that you never put ice directly on your skin or affected muscle and don’t use extreme heat. If you alternate heat and cold therapy, it may help you in treating exercise-induced muscle pain. However, if you are suffering from chronic muscle pain, it is best to choose heat therapy over the cold treatment.
Massage and Foam Rollers
Massage therapy is always a good treat for your body and sore muscles is covered in this kind of treatment. When in between workouts or post-workout treatment, make sure to massage your sore spots. You can level up your massage treatment by using foam rollers which can significantly help you lessen the risk of DOMS. For each muscle group, try rolling the foam rollers at least 5 rolls. It is advisable to start at your calves and roll it upwards but give extra care by spending more time of rolling on affected sore spots.
Favor Mushrooms, Tart Cherry Juice and Fatty Acids
Eating a balanced diet is indeed important and its’ role extends for rapid muscle recovery. For reducing muscle soreness, eat more mushroom as it possesses anti-inflammatory properties known to be effective for stiffness or soreness. It is also beneficial to drink tart cherry juice as well as eat foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids. Examples are salmon, avocado, walnuts, flax and free-range meat.
You might not want to move because of the soreness of your muscles but part of recovery is to kick the muscle soreness. Yes, you must rest and relax your muscles but you must also keep moving to balance out the soreness. So instead of resting completely, try to perform a cool-down routine. By doing so, you reduce the blood lactate which is the actual metabolic byproduct which causes muscles soreness. Good examples of “active recovery” are yoga, easy hike trail, and gentle walk-routines.
New exercise routine or an intense workout challenge usually involves unfamiliarity which can possibly put your muscle in a new shock or strain due to muscles and tendon lengthening. However, with the physical demands of your exercise, you can prevent DOMS or muscle soreness by using one or two of these treatments. Each of these is designed to be effective quick fixes that will help your muscles in terms of building stamina, strength and more importantly, the ability to recover with ease!
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