Muscle stiffness and soreness was once seen as a measure to how hard you went in the gym. When we all started, or if you are still beginning your lifting journey, muscle soreness was believed to be a necessary challenge to break through, a rite of passage if you will. While this is partially true since a little soreness shows that you have challenged yourself, not being able to get out of bed to work may be taking it too far. Here are 5 tips to manage muscle soreness.
1. Keep on training
Stopping your movement altogether is the worst thing you can do. The problem here is that lactic acid builds up in the muscle, preventing it from contracting and extending. This is where the pain is caused. To rid the muscle of lactic acid build up, there needs to be increased blood flow to these areas in order to filter it out. The longer you keep the muscle still, the longer it will take for the muscle to be able to contract without pain.
Rather than not working out at all, it is far better to increase blood flow to your muscle, enhancing the recovery process, and reduce inflammation. It’s not imperative to do certain exercises, just keep them at a low intensity. However, special active recovery movements have been proven to be extremely beneficial in assisting with muscle soreness, such as light bike riding, brisk walking, and light yoga.
Stretching before a workout is well known. We do it to get the blood rushing, and to get ourselves nice and warm. Post-workout stretching, however, is often neglected by over 80% of active people. We all remember cool-downs after sports practice at school? Turns out, they actually had a purpose.
Stretching after training helps relieve muscle tension and prevents the build-up of lactic acid, thus preventing soreness. This isn’t a magic cure, you will still have some degree of soreness the next day, especially if you have really pushed yourself to the limit.
Stretching can also improve your range-of-motion (ROM), allowing you to fully reap the benefits from the weights. A good stretching routine should only take 10 minutes, so it won’t suck up your time after training.
3. Smart supplementation
Getting nutrients into your body as soon as you can after training goes a long way in reducing muscle soreness. Your post-workout protein shake not only helps build muscle but also works to reduce muscle soreness by repairing it as fast as it is broken down.
4. Pre-workout – add the caffeine
Pre-workouts are generally created with the goal of assisting performance in the gym, as well as providing cognitive enhancement. Caffeine is what gives us that energy kick we love, but can also turn the metabolism up, burning more fat.
There is also evidence to suggest caffeine can help curb muscle soreness. Research published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research shows that those who consume caffeine before a workout felt considerably less sore than those who didn’t consume caffeine. Don’t go and chug down a tonne of caffeine, this will fry your central nervous system (CNS), causing more problems than it will help. Between 200-400mg is the most common dosage in pre-workouts, more than enough to get the job done.
5. Tart cherry juice
Tart cherry juice was examined by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, for its effects on marathon runners. They found that in a 20 person group, the half that consumed cherry juice before the marathon, and for 48 hours after, were able to recover strength faster than the others. This suggests that cherry juice could potentially have anti-oxidant properties, that support muscle recovery and prevent muscle soreness.
Muscle soreness is not something that needs to impact you every day. While a small amount of soreness may be normal when starting out or when you have pushed yourself, crippling pain is not a good sign. Try employing these 5 tips to reduce muscle soreness, and keep your muscle pain-free.