There’s one big factor that can prevent you from following through on a regular fitness routine, and that’s post-workout soreness. Who wants to work out the next day when you’re feeling sore and may even be having trouble moving? The good news is that are several proven ways you can ease post-workout muscle soreness, which results from microscopic tears in your muscles and the accompanying inflammation.
Your post workout routine is equally as important
First and most importantly, you can experiment with stretching at the end of each workout. This may sound obvious – but you’d be surprised at how many people go to the gym, lift some weights, and then head straight home. By skipping the post-workout stretch, however, you are not giving your muscles a chance to recover from all that stress that you’ve just placed on them for the past hour.
If you watch a workout DVD (or a workout video on YouTube), you’ll notice that almost all of the top fitness experts include a cool down and stretching phase at the end of the workout. That’s no accident – it’s an important part of preventing post-workout soreness. It’s a way for muscles to recover from all the lengthening and contracting that occurs when you lift heavy weights.
Take care of any sore muscles
Another way to deal with sore muscles is by applying heat to the affected body region. If you check out your local pharmacy, there are plenty of examples of thermal wraps and heating pads that can be used to reduce pain. Heat is so effective because it increases the blood circulation around your muscles and joints. That’s why wraps and pads can be effective – they can cover a relatively large area of your body.
Think of this increased blood flow from heat as a way of moving fresh oxygen and nourishment to your muscles, while simultaneously moving harmful irritants away from your muscles. That’s the reason why hopping into a hot bath feels so good after a particularly tough workout – all of that water circulating around your muscles is actually helping your body recover.
Massage therapy is also gaining in popularity as a way of alleviating post-workout muscle soreness. This doesn’t necessarily mean signing up for a 30-minute session with a massage therapist. For less than thirty bucks, you can just as easily pick up a foam roller from your local sports store for deep tissue massage. Or better yet, you can use one at the gym after your workout. The way it works is that you put the foam roller on the floor or mat, and then use your body weight to apply pressure to parts of your body. You roll back and forth, creating a nice, rhythmic massage movement. Some people use softer foam rollers, but others prefer ones that are firmer.
You are what you eat
Your diet, too, is one way that you can prevent post-workout soreness. That’s because certain foods are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce the inflammation around muscles and joints that causes discomfort. Examples of these anti-inflammatory foods rich in Omega-3 include salmon, flax seeds, avocados and walnuts.
A good nights rest will help
And, finally, there’s one aspect of preventing muscle soreness that’s usually overlooked, and that’s getting enough sleep after a workout. During your workout, you’ve created tiny tears in the muscle tissue that need to be repaired, and your body is able to use your sleep phase as a time to go to work, repairing your muscles. The less sleep you get, the less repair work that gets done.
Using these techniques and combining them with a good night’s sleep and a healthier diet will help prevent an onset of muscle soreness. Over time, your muscles will become stronger and better able to handle all the stress you place on them, and you won’t feel as much as soreness.