So, you’ve gone to the gym and pushed yourself to the brink of exhaustion only to wind up with dreaded post-workout muscle soreness. After you relish in the fact that you definitely had a killer workout, you’ll probably find your mind drifting to thoughts about reducing that awful soreness quickly so that you can get back to your fit, healthy self and get ready for your next session.
As you work out, your muscles contract which results in the muscle fibers shortening. When you stretch, these fibers extend which assists with improving your mobility and also increases flexibility. After your next session, pull out a yoga mat and take ample time to properly stretch out all your muscle groups.
Massaging your sore muscles after your workout can really reduce the risk of DOMS, delayed onset of muscle soreness. If you don’t have time for a visit to the masseuse, studies show the use of a manual consumer massager like a foam roller has been shown to help.
Even if the reason for your workout is to put you into a calorie deficit for weight loss, it’s important to fuel those hard-working muscles up with a nutrient-packed post-workout snack especially if you want to reduce the soreness! Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates all play an important role in maintaining your muscles, so prepare a powerhouse snack next time you come home from the gym.
Did Someone Say Hot Tub?
If you can snag a spot in a jacuzzi for a post-workout soak, you can relax knowing that you earned your spot in the tub and are doing one of the best possible things to alleviate your sore muscles. Focused heat, like that in a jacuzzi, assists with heat circulation which will reduce your soreness. If you don’t have a tub to soak in, a heating pad on the sore area will also greatly help.
Since muscle soreness indicates severe inflammation, consuming Omega-3 fatty acid full foods such as salmon after a workout will help reduce the pain given that they are chock full of natural anti-inflammatories.
If you prefer cooler soaks, icing your body immediately after a workout can help reduce the soreness, too. If you can stand the temperature, ice could be the secret to your pain relief.
While all of the above are great ways to assist with your post-workout soreness, as it turns out, the best thing you can do for your sore muscles is working on preventing them, to begin with. To help you reduce the risk of muscle soreness and injury post-workout, it’s helpful to take ample time to properly prepare your body with a light cardio based workout ahead of the session, such as a quick jaunt on the elliptical.
Another great thing you can do for your body is making sure you get adequate nutrition ahead of your next workout. When your body is nourished, it performs optimally, allowing you to perform better and recover much faster, especially on those heavy-duty lifting days or long-run days. Below we’ve outlined the best pre-workout nutrients you should consume before your next workout.
Whether you’re doing a quick workout or a high-intensity one, your muscles use the glucose found in carbohydrates as fuel. Our bodies natural glucose stores are limited, so carbs are a great way to give them an added boost so that they don’t become depleted mid-session. This is why many lifters focus on heavy-carb refeeds, or “carb-loading” when preparing for particularly grueling workouts.
Unlike glycogen which is utilized best in high-intensity workouts, fat is necessary to be used as fuel when it comes to longer or more low-intensity exercises. A diet high in fat has been shown to increase endurance times in even the most seasoned of runners, so it’s definitely good to get a little in your system before you hop on the treadmill.
The studies on the potential for a pre-workout protein snack to improve overall performance in athletic settings is well documented, and it can be paired with some carbs in order to maximize your muscle’s ability.
Aside from other supporting the development of strength and lean body mass, consuming some protein before you get too deep into the barbells has been shown to also assist in improved muscle recovery as well as muscle growth. So if you’re looking for some big gains and less pain, get some protein.
To truly maximize the benefits of your protein, carbs and fat stores, make sure you get that meal in at least 2-3 hours before your next session to give your body the time needed to digest them and avoid uncomfortable cramps.