Muscle soreness is a common thing that many people experience after a vigorous and intense exercise. It can strike anyone — whether you are new to working out or you have been doing your fitness routine for years. To help ease the pain, there are various tips and tricks that you can do before, during, and after your workout regimen.
1. Do some warm-up and stretching exercises before your main workout session
According to health and fitness experts, performing low-intensity stretches before working out can reduce post-workout muscle soreness and also lower the risk of injuries. If you refuse to take their advice and think that warming up is just a big waste of time, you are only putting yourself in danger of pulling a ligament or a tendon, or some other injury that can leave you in a bad spot.
Before your workout, you can do some simple routines that can slowly prepare your muscles and the rest of your body. Examples of good warm-up and stretching exercises that you can do for five to ten minutes prior to your workout are:
♦ Jogging in place
This is highly recommended if you are a runner. Before your actual run, you should jog in place for a few minutes to get your body ready. Start by jogging lightly in place, lifting your feet about just an inch or two off the ground. After a few minutes, lift your knees a bit higher and increase your speed to work your heart and lungs harder. Allow yourself to recover by alternating between 30-second periods of intensity and 30-second periods of recovery.
♦ Walking knee hugs
This is a simple warm-up exercise that should work different muscle areas of your body. To do a walking knee hug, you first have to stand straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart from each other and your arms hanging loosely at your sides. Slowly raise your left knee up to your torso, using both of your hands to keep it as close to your chest as possible. Let go of your left leg and step it forward. Repeat with your right knee. Alternate between your left and right legs as you walk.
♦ Arm circles
This is an exercise that helps work your shoulders, arms, and upper back. To start, stand straight with both of your arms extended out by your sides and parallel to the ground. Slowly, make your arms create circles in the air for about 10 seconds. Alternate between forward arm circles first and then backward arm circles.
Water is essential in all of your bodily functions and processes. It is necessary for the survival of every single bodily cell, tissue, and organ. It also plays an important role in protecting you against muscle cramps, soreness, and injuries brought about by workout and exercise.
For optimal health, health experts recommend that you drink around six to eight glasses of water daily. And, if you work out or engage in more physical activities than an average person, you have to also drink more water to make up for the loss. If you fail to do so, you may get dehydrated and deal with symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, extreme thirst, and dark-colored urine, and have an increased risk of serious complications like seizures, kidney and urinary problems, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and hypovolemic shock or low blood volume shock.
Every time you workout, make sure that you have enough water to power you all throughout. Remember to drink water before, during, and after your routines. You can also look into sports drinks that contain high concentrations of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and other elements that can significantly boost your energy levels.
3. Take rest days
Do not push your body to exercise hours and hours a day, every day of the week. You have to give yourself time to recover by taking some rest days. Do not think that taking one or two rest days every few days will set you back from your fitness goals. By taking rest days, you are actually allowing your body to perform better and more efficiently, and keeping your risk of injuries at the minimum.
If you are a beginner to exercise, you are advised to take a rest day after two consecutive days of exercising, and if you are more experienced, taking one rest day a week should be sufficient.
People who overexert themselves are in danger of suffering from exercise burnout that can negatively impact their mood, making them more anxious or irritable. They are also at risk of persistent muscle pains and soreness that can last for several hours or days, fatigue that can lower their energy levels and take away their interest in exercise, and even immune system problems that can weaken their defenses against diseases.
4. Ice and massage sore muscles
Many studies have found that massaging and ice can reduce muscle soreness if applied after working out. In fact, these two treatment methods are commonly used by athletes to help ease their muscle worries after training and games.
So, after your workout, you can prepare an ice bath for yourself and just soak in there for about 10 minutes, or apply an ice pack onto a particular part of your body to ease the pain. Then, you can self-massage your sore muscles or go to a massage spa to relieve the tension and allow faster recovery.
5. Eat a healthy and balanced diet
Certain foods contain essential vitamins and minerals that can help prevent and treat muscle soreness. The following are highly recommended foods to include to your diet if you workout and exercise regularly:
♦ Cottage cheese
This contains two important proteins — casein and whey — that can help replenish muscles fast.
These are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, protein, and electrolytes that can promote muscle growth, immunity, and hydration.
This is an excellent source of antioxidants that help prevent cancer, heart disease, and other diseases, and facilitate muscle function.