Quick Fixes for Sore Muscles

December 14, 2023 by No Comments

Exercise can cause sore muscles. Muscle soreness can be mild to severe, depending on the intensity and type of workout.

Why do our muscles get sore?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, muscle soreness following exercise is a sign that your muscles have been damaged. When micro-tearing occurs, the body begins the healing process by triggering inflammation. This is according to Shawn Arent, PhD, CSCS, a professor at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and director of the sports science laboratory.

Dr. Arent explains that fluid accumulates in muscles and puts extra pressure on damaged areas. This leads to the familiar feeling of tightness or pain, which usually begins to appear 12 to 24 hours after the workout.

Certain types of exercises are known to cause more damage and, therefore, more soreness. Any workout that is new, intense, or includes a lot of eccentric movements will cause more muscle damage.

The soreness is caused by eccentric contractions, which lengthen the muscle. This is according to Jan Schroeder, Ph.D., who chairs and teaches at California State University, Long Beach’s Department of Kinesiology. Imagine walking down a steep hill, or the lowering motion of a chest press or biceps curl. These types of exercises cause more damage to your muscles than concentric ones (where the force works as it shortens). According to the review, details are put under a lot more stress when they perform eccentric movements than concentric ones.

Muscle soreness is a good thing, but it shouldn’t last too long

research shows that chronic inflammation is a major contributor to chronic diseases. Arent says that a certain degree of inflammation is a good sign for muscle repair and growth. Your muscles will grow stronger and bigger if you help them recover. Arent says that the goal is to control inflammation as quickly as possible, not to prevent it.

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You probably want to get rid of the pain so that you can move and live without any discomfort.

Remember that you do not have to be sore to get the most out of your workout. You don’t need to cause soreness every time you exercise. Dr. Schroeder says that this shouldn’t be your goal. You don’t need to be sore in order to know that you did a good exercise.

Does warming up reduce muscle soreness after a workout?

You might have heard that stretches help to prevent injuries and soreness. It’s probably not a great idea to stretch your muscles statically before exercising. Arent: “I don’t like stretching before training.”

A review found no significant difference between passive recovery (i.e., rest) and stretching after exercise.

According to some research, a dynamic warmup performed immediately before an exercise can reduce muscle pain for up to two full days afterward. However, the amount of soreness that is reduced in these studies has been minimal.

6 Ways to Reduce Muscle Pain During and After Workout

There are strategies that you can employ to help ease muscle pain and speed up recovery following a workout, which is what you need to know.

1. Hydrate During and after your workout

Staying hydrated can be an important part of muscle recovery. Arent says that water keeps fluids flowing through your body, which reduces inflammation, removes waste products, and provides nutrients to your muscles.

Schroeder says it’s difficult to tell if you are dehydrated or not because you will likely reach dehydration long before you feel thirsty.

According to a review, you should drink 13 to 20 ounces of water two hours before beginning exercise. Researchers recommend that you drink 5-10 oz of water every 15-20 minutes during exercise to maintain hydration. They recommend electrolyte drinks for workouts longer than 90 minutes.

Your urine’s color can also be a good indicator of hydration. Dark or medium yellow indicates dehydration, while pale yellow indicates you are hydrated. Be aware that vitamin supplements can cause your urine color to be darker than normal. What types of vitamins will affect who? It isn’t easy to know. Schroeder says, “Everyone is different.”

2. After your workout, use a foam roller (Self Myofascial release) or massage gun

Self-myofascial Release (SMR) is used to release tension from muscles and connective tissue (foam rolling, lacrosse balls, and massage sticks are all common SMR tools). It also helps to move fluids that accumulate in muscles after exercise.

In a review, it was found that foam rolling can help reduce DOMS and increase the range of movement. Foam rolling and other forms of massage increase circulation, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach the affected area. This reduces swelling and tenderness.

Start with a softer foam roller if you want to try one. Firmer foam rollers allow for more pressure to be applied but can also be very intense for those who are not used to them. Arent says that lacrosse balls are also useful tools since they can be used to smooth out difficult-to-reach areas, such as the glutes and lats. They can also help with the IT bands, the calves, or the iliotibial band. ACSM recommends that you use the roller only on soft tissues and not on joints or bones.

Massage Guns, also known as “percussive massaging treatment” or “vibration therapies,” are a popular tool for promoting muscle recovery after a workout.

Arent says that percussional self-massage devices are similar to general massage. When placed on the muscles, these handheld machines produce rapid vibrations, which can promote blood flow. Massage guns are available with attachments in different shapes and sizes that target various muscle groups.

Leada Femalek, DPT, is a board-certified sports specialist from San Francisco. She says that few studies have specifically examined the effectiveness of massage guns, but they may combine two elements that have been backed up by science: vibration therapy and conventional massage. Research has shown that both methods work equally well in preventing DOMS.

If you want to use a massager after a workout, Dr. Malek recommends finding an area where it feels tight. Then, lightly sweep over the belly part of the muscle. She says to add pressure, but not excessively. Hospital for Special Surgery suggests performing three to five sweeps in one area. Be careful not to stay too long in one site, or you may end up irritating the muscles.

3. Eat within a half-hour after an intense workout

Arent suggests that you can speed up your recovery by giving your muscles the nutrients needed to repair themselves and grow stronger.

He recommends that you get 20-40 grams of protein and 20-40 grams of carbohydrates into your body within 30 minutes after an intense or long exercise (one lasting 60 minutes or more). A serving of Greek yogurt, a handful of berries, and a teaspoon of honey are some snack options.

According to a position document, protein is essential for the amino acids required to rebuild your muscle. At the same time, carbohydrates are important to replenish the fuel your muscles have used during your workout.

Arent says that you shouldn’t just stop with the post-workout snacks. You won’t be able to help your muscles recover by going hungry or avoiding nutritious food the rest of the time. Keep your daily intake of protein consistent and prioritize meals to ensure your tissues receive a constant stream of amino acids. ACSM recommends consuming 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram (kg) of body weight. If you weigh 75 kg, you should eat 60 grams of average protein each day.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, fruits, vegetables, and lentils provide your body with vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and zinc, that help promote healing.

4. Sleep Later:

Arent explains that sleep is important for many reasons. It’s also a key component of recovery after exercise. It may not appear that it will have an immediate impact on [muscle pain], but it is still beneficial.

According to the review, NREM sleep increases protein synthesis, which is necessary to repair damaged muscle.

The post-workout period is not the time to cut corners on sleep. As recommended by the Sleep Foundation, aim to sleep at least seven hours.

5. The Day Following a Hard Workout, Do Some Light Exercise

Resting sore muscles is important, but it doesn’t mean you should spend all day on your couch. You can do gentle exercises like yoga, a walk, a swim or cyclo, or light resistance training. It is important to avoid repeating the same intense workouts on consecutive days. Schroeder suggests that on a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 represents maximum intensity, you should aim for a level of effort of 3. You need to move blood to sore muscles in order to provide oxygen and nutrients for repair.

6. Avoid NSAIDs if you can

Arent says that while you might be tempted to take a painkiller, you could sacrifice important parts of your muscle-building process. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen, Aleve, and ibuprofen, may help ease muscle pain but may also stop your muscles from getting stronger and bigger. In a small study, taking the maximum dose of over-the-counter ibuprofen stopped progress in an eight-week program designed to build power and strength among young adults.

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