Ever woke up the next morning after an intense leg day and struggled to stand up out of bed? Trust us when we say, we’ve all been there! It sounds dramatic, but post-workout muscle soreness can be a real pain in the butt, literally!
The Dreaded DOMs
If you’re not familiar with this term, it refers to delayed onset muscle soreness. This is the pain that comes 1-2 days after a workout, hence the ‘delayed.’
DOMS usually happens when we perform a new exercise that we haven’t done before when we change up our usual workout routine or increase the intensity of our workout.
It’s believed that DOMS is a result of the small tears to your muscle fibers that occur while you’re working out, which ultimately causes sore muscles. However don’t be alarmed, because this is actually a good thing as it just means that they’re adapting to a new activity. Therefore, the next time you perform the same activity or exercise at the same intensity, there’ll be less muscle tissue damage, less soreness, and a faster recovery.
Our Tips to Reduce Muscle Soreness
On the bright side, there are some steps you can take to reduce the length and severity of DOMS, and we’ve listed our top tips below:
Although it can be tempting to dive straight into your first set of squats when you arrive at the gym, you should always do a little stretch to warm up the muscles beforehand as it allows your muscles to loosen up and become less stiff. This will ultimately reduce any risks of injury from the muscles suddenly being stretched.The same also applies to stretching at the end of your workout. This is a step you can’t miss as our bodies produce lactic acid when we exercise which contributes to aching muscles, and stretching post-workout helps to reduce that lactic acid which ultimately helps to minimize soreness and also tension in our muscles.
Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a technique used to release tension in the muscles. Foam rollers are a common tool that use this technique by helping to move the fluids that build up in the muscle after exercise and cause our muscles to ache after working out.
A review published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found that foam rolling can lead to increased range of motion and can help to reduce DOMS (the muscle aches we feel post-workout.) By massaging the affected muscles, it increases circulation to deliver more nutrients and oxygen to them, which helps reduce swelling and pain. (FYI – This can be an awesome tool when it comes to leg workouts and reducing leg soreness. It may hurt at first, like a sports massage, but the results are definitely worth it!)
One of the best ways to speed up recovery in order to prevent muscle soreness is to fuel our bodies with the nutrition it needs within the 30 minutes after working out.As a general rule, you should aim to eat in a 3:1 ratio of carbs: protein in this 30-minute window. Why? Because during intense exercise, our glycogen stores rapidly deplete and some proteins in our muscles are broken down. Consuming protein after a workout provides the amino acids needed to rebuild our muscles, while carbohydrates play an essential role in replenishing the glycogen stores (aka our fuel) lost through exercise.
Ultimately, eating both protein and carbs following an intense workout allows our bodies to repair and grow new muscle tissue, therefore helping us to recover faster and reduce muscle aches so that we can be ready for the next workout. Shop our range of protein here.
In a nutshell, BCAAs have been shown to help build muscle, decrease muscle fatigue and reduce muscle soreness, therefore helping our bodies to recover quicker after an intense workout.
Studies have shown that they decrease muscle damage caused by exercise as they decrease protein breakdown during exercise and creatine kinase (which indicates muscle damage.) This ultimately speeds up muscle recovery, helping you to get the most out of your workouts each time!Generally, the best time to drink BCAAs is during your workouts or immediately after. This is due to the fact that BCAAs are effective in helping to build and repair damaged muscles from intense workouts, therefore it’s best to have them during and after an intense session to maximize recovery and prevent post-workout soreness.
Heat and Ice Therapy
Sometimes, a hot bath is just the answer to everything, especially when it comes to post-workout muscle soreness.
This is because heat can help to minimize muscle tension and pain signals following a workout. Or alternatively, ice can help in instances where the muscle is swollen, however, this is generally for more extreme cases of pain such as strains.
Do Light Exercise
Nothing is more tempting than the thought of a duvet day after an intense workout which has resulted in some serious DOMs, however, the better option here is to do some light exercise. For example, a light walk, cycle, swim or yoga are all forms of exercise that will get the blood flowing to deliver the oxygen and nutrients needed for a faster recovery, without causing any further damage to the muscles.
Although it may seem like the end of the world when your muscles are aching after an intense session, we promise, it’s not! The pain is very short-term and should only last a couple of days. Like we mentioned above, it’s actually a good thing because your muscles are adapting to new forms of exercise, so they won’t be as sore next time. To minimize the length and intensity of muscle aches, just make sure to follow these tips and don’t forget your rest days between workouts!