Ever had that feeling of being too sore to walk the day after an hour of spin class? We’ve all been there. After vigorous exercise, our muscles accumulate lactic acid, which is a natural by-product of muscle metabolism that irritates the muscles. When related to exercise, this irritation can lead to sore muscles and discomfort known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS.
When we put our muscles to work, we also cause micro-tears in the muscle tissue that leads to painful and uncomfortable symptoms of DOMS. DOMS can develop anytime, typically anywhere from 12 – 24 hours after an intense workout and can stay on for two to three days.
DOMS isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and muscle soreness caused by exercise is only temporary as it will go away after a couple of days. However, we need to help our muscles grow and repair themselves in order to get back to the gym and maintain our fitness.
Tips to Prevent Muscle Soreness
While it is inevitable to experience soreness after certain workouts, the good news is that there are ways to avoid muscle soreness and help our muscles speed up the recovery process.
1. Foam Roller
Using a foam roller to massage your muscles after a workout has been shown to be effective in reducing DOMS. When you use a foam roller on an overworked muscle, you help to relieve tension in the muscles’ connective tissue.
Foam roller massages can encourage blood circulation and help the muscles avoid injuries in the long run. Use your foam roller on the muscles you have worked on for about 10 – 15 minutes and let it work its magic to alleviate you from soreness.
2. Eat Tart Cherries
Some research shows that marathon runners who consumed tart cherry juice five days before the marathon, in addition to the day of and 48 hours after, had reduced sensations of muscle soreness. The runners had also shown signs of improved muscle function and recovery.
Cherries are rich in antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory properties that can be effective in reducing inflammation. If you’re not a fan of cherries, red raspberries might be your next best bet.
3. Epsom Salt Bath
Relaxation is always an option after exercise. Add a cup of Epsom salt to your bathtub and spend 30 minutes to relax and enjoy your bath. Epsom contains magnesium, which is an essential mineral required by the body and is one of the few minerals that can be absorbed through the skin.
The Epsom salts will help to decrease inflammation of the muscles, improve nerve function, remove excess toxins, and of course, reduce any feelings of stress and tension.
4. Don’t Forget to Warm Up
We often forget the importance of warm-up exercises before we start our actual workout. Warm-up exercises will focus on the muscles you are looking to target and will open up the joints to prepare your body for the upcoming exercises.
Warm-up exercises can also improve your flexibility, increase blood flow to the muscles, and work to prevent muscle soreness.
5. Drink Coffee
Some research shows that drinking coffee before a workout can help to reduce muscle soreness and feelings of fatigue. The caffeine present in coffee has analgesic properties that act as a painkiller and, therefore, helps to reduce the painful sensations that accompany sore muscles.
6. Take a Power Nap
Sometimes all you need is a nap. A deep hour of sleep can help the body release natural growth hormones that work to rejuvenate and repair the muscles, leaving us feeling refreshed and, hopefully, free of extreme muscle soreness.
Make sure to always listen to your body and avoid over-exerting yourself in order to prevent harmful injuries. Remember to drink lots of water to stay hydrated, especially after exercise.
1. What causes sore muscles?
The build-up of lactic acid combined with the tiny micro-tears in our muscles brought on by vigorous exercise can lead to muscle soreness.
2. What’s good for sore muscles?
Foam roller massages, coffee, anti-inflammatory foods, and other tips mentioned above can be helpful in alleviating discomfort from sore muscles.
3. What do sore muscles mean?
Delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS is common after a workout and could mean that your muscles are getting stronger.
4. How long do sore muscles last?
After completing the workout, muscle soreness can last from one to five days, depending on the intensity of the workout. Follow the helpful tips mentioned above to help you find relief from muscle soreness.
5. What foods help sore muscles?
Muscle soreness related to exercise can be brought on due to inflamed muscles post-workout. Foods that are packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can be effective in helping sore muscles. Examples include tart cherries, blueberries, raspberries, salmon, and eggs.
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