Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a normal occurrence in many training regimens and workout routines. But no matter how normal it is for athletes to experience soreness in the days following a big training session, it can still be uncomfortable, painful, and an obstacle that gets in the way of continuing with your workout schedule as planned.
So no matter what fitness level you might be, learning how to cope with the soreness is an integral part of a successful athletic training program. Here are 8 tried-and-true methods for letting your muscle soreness heal and preventing it from getting in the way of your progress.
Part of the reason that DOMS happens in the first place is due to hyperactive motor neuron activity. Normally, your motor neurons (the nerves that drive your muscle movement) send electric signals down your spine and to the appropriate muscles, making them contract.
But when you become fatigued, like during a high-intensity conditioning exercise, those signals can come at a hyper-accelerated rate and pound the fatiguing muscle. For some people that hyperactivity triggers a muscle cramp but for everyone else, it contributes to that lingering pain we feel a day or two after an intense workout or new routine,
You can proactively address this neurological driver of muscle soreness by taking HOTSHOT For Muscle Soreness right before your workout or as a post-workout recovery shot. This innovative sports shot activates receptors in your mouth, stomach, and esophagus, which then sends a calming signal down your spinal cord and inhibits the rapid-fire activity that contributes to subsequent soreness.
Make sure you’re getting plenty of protein.
Besides the neurological causes behind DOMS, you also have to pay special attention to the physical repair process of your muscles. Because your muscles are under so much physical stress during a big training session or workout, they can get tiny “microtears” in their fibers that become inflamed and contribute to the soreness you feel in the days following your workout.
Protein is a “building block” for your muscles: it helps repair the damage that occurs during your workout and ultimately allows your muscles to grow. The amount of protein you need after a workout can vary based on your body metrics and physical goals, but the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American Colleges of Sports Medicine, and the International Society of Sports Nutrition all suggest eating somewhere between 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per kg of body weight to optimize muscle recovery in physically active adults.
Try a massage.
Getting a massage is both relaxing and beneficial for your muscle recovery. A meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials found that athletes who received massage therapy interventions after strenuous exercise were significantly less likely to experience DOMS than subjects who didn’t. Aside from going to a physical therapist or massage therapist, you can also use tools like foam rollers or massage guns to get similar post-workout relief for achy muscles.
Take a pain killer.
If you’re looking for temporary relief from particularly achy muscles, try using a painkiller. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs for short) like ibuprofen work by minimizing inflammation, an immune response to damaged muscle fibers that can result in swelling, tenderness, and pain. Using these painkilling drugs can alleviate some of the pain that you feel and make recovery a little more comfortable.
Get enough sleep.
With our busy and hectic lifestyles, we sometimes end up putting sleep on the backburner. However, a big portion of our muscle recovery happens when we’re getting a night of good quality sleep. Important hormones like human growth hormone (HGH) are secreted during our sleep cycles, which helps encourage muscle recovery and growth.
If you have a hard time getting good, high-quality sleep every night, optimize your sleeping environment by sticking to a regular bedtime, limiting your screentime in the hours close to bedtime, and restricting your caffeine intake to earlier in the day.
Fill up on anti-inflammatory foods.
Another method for managing soreness is to regularly eat plenty of nutritious foods that curb inflammation, which can contribute to the pain you feel from DOMS. Some good anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet as an athlete to ease soreness include:
- Fatty fish
- Tart cranberry juice
Hot & cold therapies
You might be able to relieve some of the pain and soreness from exercise by using a good old-fashioned ice pack. Applying cold temperatures to a sore spot can minimize blood flow to the area, temporarily numbing the pain and reducing inflammation.
On the other hand, some people also find that heating their muscles can help bring relief from DOMS pain. Whether you choose hot or cold therapy, scientists have found that it usually works best when done within a day of a big workout.
Don’t skip your rest days.
When all else fails, don’t underestimate the power of taking a day or two off to allow your body to rest and recover properly. Pushing yourself while you’re recovering from sore muscles can sometimes be counterproductive:; it can increase your risk of injury from tight muscles and limit your athletic performance in the process.
So if your soreness is getting to the point where it hurts to move, allow yourself a day or two off to let your muscles mend! If you can’t stand the thought of skipping the gym altogether, you can try lowering the intensity of your next couple of workouts or focus on other muscle groups that are less achy.
Training and high-intensity exercises are incredibly stressful on both your muscles and nerves. Because it’s so hard on the body, you can’t underestimate the importance of having a good recovery routine! If you’re prone to muscle cramping and soreness, add HOTSHOT Sports Shots to your pre-workout supplement stack or take it right after your workout to prevent the neurological factors.
Then, use a combination of rest, massage, hot & cold therapies, good nutrition, and anti-inflammatory interventions to allow your muscles to heal and repair all the way. You’ll be able to bounce back as a better, stronger athlete in the long run!
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Ketut Subiyanto