Experiencing muscle pains one to two days after a tough resistance workout indicate muscle atrophy, and are the first signs of a body breaking itself down to build itself back up.
Translation? Being sore is a good thing — it means you’re getting stronger.
Sometimes, however, we overdo it. Here are some tips and tricks to make post-workout soreness a little less painful.
1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Drinking water post-workout is essential toward actively combating against the negative effects of dehydration, one of which is soreness. We can easily keep hydrated, by simply tracking on our urine colour. Your pee shouldn’t be coming out dark yellow. It should be as clear as a bottle of overpriced mineral water.
2. Stretch It Out
Stretching is essential for improving your range of motion, increasing circulation and improving muscle control. Make it a habit to do a light stretch after your warm up before diving into your workout. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll want to take the time to stretch it out thoroughly immediately following your workout, too. Dynamic stretching has been shown to help prevent injury and increase performance, so make sure the stretches you do immediately after working out should be focused on the muscle groups you just used. And never stretch further than you’re actually capable. Flexibility can be built over time, so be patient. Consider joining a restorative yoga class once or twice a week to maximize the benefits of your harder workouts (and de-stress all at once).
3. Try A Contrast Shower
There are varying opinions on whether or not cold water therapy actually does a body good, but some people absolutely swear by it. There’s anecdotal evidence to suggest that various combinations of hot baths and ice cold showers can help reduce pain and swelling after tough workouts. Give it a try by alternating very cold, with very hot water during your next shower, or enjoy a steam session at the gym to treat yourself after your next workout. You may find that the cold and hot water has varying effects on your muscles, increasing circulation and reducing inflammation. Again, this isn’t for everyone — but those who swear by a hot bath truly believe in it.
4. Get A Massage
The adoption of a new workout routine exposes your body to minor tears and newfound stresses. Offsetting the suffered stresses of a new workout with massages greatly diminishes pain. Further, a study conducted by a team at McMaster University in Canada provided strong findings that post workout massage therapy subdues the inflammation of a strenuous workout by stifling the activity of a protein called NF-kB.
5. Wear Compression Clothing
The jury’s still out on whether or not compression clothing fights fatigue and soreness in active athletes — its not proven. Either way, give the tight fitted clothing a go-around and decide for yourself. The theory holds that the pressure applied by compression clothing pushes blood through your body’s veins and delays the onset of fatigue.
6. Snack For Success
Enjoy a healthy snacks, such as almonds or whey bars, immediately after a workout and every couple of hours ; they should high in vitamins, minerals and protein. Some groups of gym-rats participate in what’s been termed “protein pulsing,” to spike their bodies’ insulin levels and improve their bodies’ abilities to effectively synthesize amino acids found within proteins. Your body needs all the protein it can get, and it stands a much greater chance at building itself back up if its amino acid synthesis process is in check.
7. Get Some Sleep
Seriously. So many of us are susceptible to foregoing sufficient levels of sleep. Whether it’s the bright-lit screen robbing you of sleep, late-night work, or too much caffeine, the bottom line is your body won’t produce proper levels of GH (growth hormone) unless you start needs getting around seven hours of sleep per night. If you don’t have enough GH, you may feel effects of sleep deprivation and muscle fatigue.