Getting sore after working out can be a big pain. In fact, post workout soreness is one of the leading reasons reported by people who drop out of an exercise. While some soreness is inevitable after working out, there are many methods that athletes use to control the soreness and stop it from being debilitating. If you are experiencing sore muscles that significantly impair your ability to perform tasks the next day, there is likely something you can do to control that pain. Read on for some top tips from exercise experts on how to reduce muscle soreness and be ready for your next workout.
Eat After Exercise
One thing many people do not realize is that heavy exercise kicks your body into a high gear metabolic mode for a couple of hours after you finish working out. Food eaten during this time is earmarked to repair your muscles and replenish their energy stores, before it can be used to add to your waistline. This is a great time to eat some healthy proteins and carbs. Something like a protein shake with fruit is ideal, but you could also have some chicken and rice or a similar meal. Even usual diet prohibited foods like pasta, bread, and pizza are much more acceptable during a meal taken directly after a workout, though you still should not make a habit of it.
By replenishing your energy stores, as well as giving your body the protein it needs to create muscle mass, your muscles will be in much better shape the next day. When you work out, your muscles actually break down slightly, which is what leads to active recovery to the soreness you feel later. When your body patches the damaged muscles, it makes them stronger than before in the hopes of preventing future damage, which is how exercise eventually leads to improved strength and increased muscle mass. Giving your body the materials and energy, it needs to rebuild your muscles speeds up the process and makes it more efficient. Downing protein and healthy carbohydrates after a workout makes the workout count for more and reduces soreness.
Manage Lactic Acid
While the breaking down of muscles is the primary cause of muscle soreness, there is a byproduct of exercise that also causes pain in muscles. Lactic acid builds up in the muscles during strenuous activity and needs to be channeled out of the muscles by the lymph system. When the lymph system is overloaded, it can take time to get lactic acid out, and until then it will continue to cause pain. Think of your lymph system as a second circulatory system, but without a heart to push it. This makes it much more slow moving, and it functions much more effectively if you are moving.
To get your lymph system flowing better, there are a few things you can do. One thing you can do is vigorously massage the affected muscles. Depending on the location, this may be possible yourself, or you may need someone to help you. There are also foam rollers you can use to more effectively reach and massage difficult to reach muscles. By pressing on the affect area, the lactic acid can be prompted into motion, helping the lymph system along.
Another thing that aids lactic acid removal is a cool down workout. Instead of dropping the exercise right at the peak and laying down, it is better for your body to gradually reduce your level of activity. After a hard run, jog for a lap, and then walk for another lap. After heavy weightlifting, do some stretching exercises. After biking up a hill, pedal around a flat area a bit. By doing light exercise, you are producing much less lactic acid, and helping your lymph system kick into gear and eliminate the acid already there. This will greatly reduce your post-workout pains.
Muscles absolutely require a lot of water to work optimally. This is why working out tends to make you thirsty, which is an urge you should definitely give in to. Keep water with you at all times while working out and drink it regularly. You should be going through at least 20 ounces of water for each hour that you are engaging in exercise; more than that if the exercise is particularly extreme, or if you are in the sun or heat.
Urine color is a good way to gauge whether you are adequately hydrated. Working out produces and releases plenty of toxins from the muscles, which come out in the urine. If you are inadequately hydrated, your kidneys will be in high gear trying to get it all out with the water you have to work with. Dark or bright yellow urine indicates that you need to drink much more during your workouts. Clear or very faint yellow means you are drinking enough.
Inadequately hydrating during exercise will have a slew of negative effects, including reduced stamina, risk for injury, and stress on organs. Among these effects is also increased soreness, since the lack of water will increase damage to your muscles during the workout. If you are in pain after workouts, make sure that you are drinking plenty of water.
Working out will always cause soreness, but these tips will help your body recover optimally from exercise. Soreness is due to lactic acid sitting on damaged muscles. By controlling those two factors, your muscles will hurt less, and heal more quickly. As a bonus you will also get more out of every workout and see gains faster. If you are still experiencing muscle pain, see a doctor about pain relief options. Many over the counter painkillers like aspirin, Tylenol, and other generic pain relievers can be effective in managing the normal aches and pains that come with heavy exercise. However, make sure that you are addressing the root causes of your muscle soreness first. If you are experiencing extreme pain after working out, see a doctor to make sure that is nothing serious.