After a challenging workout, it'll very likely you'll experience muscle soreness the next day. Honestly, I've even experienced in a few hours after!
Whenever I get muscle soreness or feel still in my muscles and joints, my initial reaction is a positive one. I'm psyched that I indeed pushed my limits and went that little bit further in my workout that day, causing me to feel sore afterwards.
Muscle soreness is generally nothing to worry about provided that its intensity doesn't last too long and incrementally improves over the next few days.
If you're sore for a week and the soreness/stiffness does not seem to be reducing, then you might need to consult your physician because it might need medical attention.
But the scope of today's video is not that. It's about reducing and minimizing muscle soreness that goes away within a few days.
I share a few tips from research as well as from my own experience of resolving muscle soreness after a grueling training session.
Here is a summary of the strategies, which I go into depth in the video:
(1) Be Sure to Warm Up
The warm up is essential for optimal training and recovery. Think of the warm up as a way to lubricate joints, warm up the muscles, and prepare your central nervous system (CNS) for the training ahead. Treat the workout as an activation and as a mini-workout. It should feel like you're getting ready. I really enjoy Caroline Girvan's warm up routines because they're comprehensive and target full body. I would give those a go is you are struggling with a proper warm up routine.
(2) Good Sleep
Proper sleep is super important for muscle recovery. You will be less sore if you prioritize your sleep and practice good sleep hygiene. On days where I really went all in with my training and pushed hard, increased the load, etc I try my best to get closer to 9 hours of good sleep. Otherwise I target 8 hours nightly because good sleep is an integral part of our health and fitness.
Making sure you're getting enough water is important for overall health. When we're dehydrated we don't perform the exercises and movements as well in our workouts. On the flip side, when we're hydrated we perform the exercises well. We also decrease the chance of injury due to improper form. The other cool thing that water helps do is transport nutrients to our cells. Everyone has a different daily water goal but for most people who are active, targeting between 2 and 4 liters of water a day is a good benchmark. There is such a thing as overhydrating and it's not pretty: it can cause you're body to flush out the minerals and nutrients you're getting so be sure not to overdo it. Having a glass of water at your desk or with you at all times during the day can serve as a reminder to take a sip of water when you are thirsty.
On a similar note to getting enough water, we want to replenish our body with the proper nutrients. Try to get as many nutrients, minerals, and micronutrients as you can. As someone who eats basically the same exact brunch every day (I combine my breakfast and lunch because I do TRF) is convenient, but I try to vary it if ever so slightly so as to make sure I'm getting a variety of nutrients in addition to eating nutrient-dense foods every day (eggs, avocado, etc). I might add parsley or green onions or different spices and seeds to my brunch so mix it up while keeping the staple (eggs, avocado, olive oil) the same. This is also something to keep in mind if you are one to do meal planning or weekly meal prep for a few days at a time. Remember, food is fuel. The higher the quality of the fuel, the better of the machine. Your body is a machine! Let's fuel it properly. This helps with both performance and recovery.
(5) Light Movement
This can be quite painful. It's hard to walk after a leg intensive session the previous day if not earlier that day, right? Right. But we still have to move (lightly) to increase blood flow to those sore and stiff areas. That blood circulation will help the recovery process. Don't underestimate the power of light walking, light stretching or holding yoga poses for a little bit. Pay attention to your soreness levels and if it is decreasing over time.
Incorporating mobility is a game changer. I've starting being more strict about doing mobility exercises and now it's part of my fitness routine. It's allowed me to recover faster, have less stiff joints, and have less sore muscles during and after a training session. If you want to level up your strength training, you have to level up your mobility training.
(7) Cool Down
Just like the warm up, the cool down is super important. Don't skip it! I know, sometimes, you might be pressed for time, in a rush to eat, bored of doing something slower paced when you just cranked out those burpees at lighting speed, but you know what? We need to cool down. It's important for our body and brain (CNS). Remember, the warm up includes the dynamic stretches, and the cool down includes the static stretches. Holding poses for 30 seconds is a good benchmark. Aim to hold a quad stretch, hamstring stretch, chest stretch, etc. for half a minute on each side. This will dramatically reduce muscle soreness.
(8) Good Form
Proper form cannot be overlooked! Maintaining the right form with each exercise is key to preventing injury and minimizing soreness. Do not get sloppy when muscles are fatigued, instead scale back on reps to ensure you're doing the move correctly. Take the position of quality of reps over quantity. It's easy to get injured if you're being careless and not paying attention. Engage the mind to muscle connection so that you really feel the targeted muscles being worked. If you don't feel it where you're supposed to feel it, you're doing it wrong. Pause, reset, and start again. Also, be sure to progressively increased weights. You don't want to ramp up load prematurely because your joints might not be ready. Strength gains take time and that is OK! We're in it for the long haul!
Those are 8 ways you can minimize muscle soreness. These strategies will not only help you be less sore, but they will help you be healthier and fitter overall.
If you like tracking, you might consider keeping a fitness journal where you can record the weights used, reps, energy levels, how you felt during and after your training, and recovery time. This will help you optimize your training and recovery!
Keep up the awesome work. You are on the right track :) You're doing great.
See you in the next IgnyteFit,