Experiencing sore and painful muscles after a workout is normal, most especially if you have increased the intensity of your workout or have started working out after a prolonged period of inactivity. This is because working your muscles causes micro-trauma to the soft tissues, leading to muscle pain. The buildup of lactic acid, a byproduct of muscle metabolism, can likewise cause muscle irritation.
To help relieve post-workout muscle pain, try these tips and best practices:
Your muscles tend to contract or tighten when doing intense workouts. Stretching will help relax your tight muscles and improve your flexibility so that you can recover from sore muscles faster. Hold static stretches for at least 20 seconds each and pay particular attention to the muscle groups that you engaged during your workout.
Perform a light massage on your sore muscles to relieve the pain, promote blood flow, and reduce post-workout muscle tightness. In fact, research has shown that a body massage can mimic the health benefits of taking an anti-inflammatory drug, thereby reducing inflammation and alleviating pain.
The spa isn’t the only place you can get a relaxing massage; you can also have one at home. As an alternative, you can use a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit, which is portable and easy to use, to ease your tired muscles and induce therapeutic pain relief by blocking pain signals and releasing endorphins.
After your workout, make sure that you drink a lot of water. Drinking water does not only keep your body hydrated but also relieves muscle pain. Muscle cramping can be exacerbated if your body is dehydrated. Drinking water also helps to lubricate your joints, prevent joint pain, and improve your movement after an intense workout.
Although moving around may be a source of further discomfort, it is a good way to ease the soreness. After having a short period of rest, you can try to walk a few yards to help loosen and stretch your muscles. Moving can help flush out the buildup of lactic acid in your body, which is one of the causes of muscle pain.
Lactic acid buildup occurs due to intense exercise. When you exercise, your body is sometimes deprived of oxygen which prevents you from utilizing your body’s glucose for energy. Your body now needs to generate energy without oxygen, a process called anaerobic metabolism, wherein lactic acid is a byproduct. Since it is an acid, it causes irritation, making you experience muscle pain and body weakness.
After an intense workout, it is normal to develop small trauma to the muscles. This will trigger the body’s immune response, leading to inflammation and soreness. To manage this, you can apply a cold pack to the sore area after an intense exercise to relieve some of the symptoms. Studies show that cooling sore muscles after an intense workout can help alleviate discomfort, relieve swelling, and decrease pain.
To maximize the effect of a workout to your muscles, make sure that you eat foods that are packed in protein such as eggs, yogurt, cheese, chicken, and salmon. For a healthy dose of carbohydrates, you can eat some rice cakes, potatoes, and pasta.
Delayed onset muscle soreness following a workout affects even seasoned athletes and bodybuilders. Recover faster with thoughtful preparation and post-workout tricks that aid tissue repair.