If leg days force you to take the elevator, you might have a problem with muscle soreness. The most likely scenario is that the pain catches on the next day, and this muscular response is commonly knowns as DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness.
There are many possible reasons why muscle soreness can occur. Sometimes it’s just a result of an excellent workout session. Other times it’s a product of overtraining, or performing an exercise in a wrong way. Occasionally soreness can appear a long time after not training that particular muscle.
For example, if you rarely train legs, you’re almost guaranteed to struggle walking up the stairs after your first one or two workouts. This problem will disappear as you become more frequent in the gym and in training that muscle group.
Whichever of these possible causes is to blame, here are some great ways to minimize pain and soreness so that you can walk without the aid of a Zimmer Frame, and also return to the gym as fast as possible.
1. Warm Up
This is a crucial aspect of training, both for reducing soreness but also increasing workout productivity and minimizing chances of injury.
Warming up makes the muscles in your body adapt to the physical activity, instead of receiving a negative shock. This doesn’t only concern the visible muscle, but also the heart.
Going for a sprint without doing a slow jog or walking for at least a few minutes beforehand, can cause serious knee and hamstring injuries, but also a stroke. Although unlikely for most people, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Warming up is simply a must if you’re serious about your training sessions.
2. Do Some Stretches
When it comes to stretching, the fitness world hasn’t yet reached a consensus. Some people stretch before and after a workout, others also stretch in between sets, and others don’t stretch AT ALL. I believe that the necessity of stretching has a lot to do with structural uniqueness of the person. If you have a lot of fast twitch muscle fiber, it’s possible that you don’t need to stretch as often.
Having a lot more fast twitch fiber allows you to perform explosive movements with greater ease than someone who has a lot of slow twitch fibers instead. This is why some people have that ‘functional’ strength which is lacking in others, even though they’re able to bench or deadlift far more weight. But the same logic that we applied to warm ups should apply here as well – just do it!
It takes 10 minutes on average and can only add value to your workouts, by increasing the blood flow in the muscle and preparing the supporting tissue for the workload.
Massaging the sore muscle can greatly relieve pain and tension. There are many massages that work. The main point to focus on is breaking the knots that form in the muscle tissue. The hardening of the tissue occurs when the muscle is repeatedly under tension. Try to check your back with your hand and you’ll probably feel one or two of these knots regardless of whether you’ve trained or not.
Professional athletes regularly get sport massages that focus on this particular issue, but if you don’t have the resources to do it, there are some alternatives. Either get a regular massage in a massage parlour or invest in a handheld massager. Yeah, the one your grandma probably uses. They actually work, and it’s quite easy to use them on yourself as well.
4. Heat Away The Pain
Applying heat on the muscle brings more blood to the area, and speeds up the recovery. It also relaxes the muscle by breaking down tension. There are a couple ways in which you can administer heat. Taking a hot bath or shower, going to a sauna, or applying a heat pack are all viable options.
5. Cold Treatment
This may sound weird, but just like heat, ice can perform the same function when it comes to easing muscle pain. In fact, many professional fighters like Alistair Overeem and Brock Lesnar use ice baths after training to reduce any potential muscle soreness. Although doing an ice bath is extreme and takes some time to get used to, simply placing an ice pack on the sore muscle will do the trick.
Taking cold showers can provide some relief as well. If you’re planning to use this strategy, try to do it in the first 2 days after the training session, as this is the timeframe in which the muscle responds really well to cold treatment.
6. Stay active
If you’ve got some soreness and pain, it doesn’t mean that you should abstain from training completely. As I’ve mentioned previously, the simplest way to speed up recovery is to get more bloodflow in the sore area. Training is one way to do it.
However, this doesn’t mean you should go balls in on your workout. Train at 40-50% or your usual capacity, so that you do some proper training but don’t strain the muscle fiber until it fully recovers.
7. Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salt also increases blood flow to the muscle, and on top of that – reduces bloating. So if you’re also trying to get a flat midsection, try an epsom salt bath.
Warm water, 300-400 g of epsom salt and a tub are all that you need. Soak yourself for 20-30 minutes and that will do it!
8. Use Supplements
Taking supplements is also a way to speed up recovery. Some of the most frequently used supplements for relieving muscle pain are glutamine, creatine and CoQ10.
Creatine allows for better protein and carb use in the muscle while glutamine acts as a powerful protein addition, helping with bone and supporting tissue problems as well.
CoQ10 is great for reliving soreness and has been thoroughly tested. Taking 100 mg daily can reduce soreness by 50% in normal circumstances.
This is common knowledge, but I’ll remind you anyway – muscles are built and maintained by eating a good amount of protein and calories. The best way to keep your muscle healthy is to eat properly, and try to get as much vitamins and minerals in as possible, without breaking your caloric limit.
Sleeping is ultimately the best proven cure for sore muscles. If you’ve overtrained and feel tired, try to refrain from doing anything for a few days.
Having a good sleeping schedule of at least 7 hours daily is the easiest way to prevent or at least reduce having to deal with muscle aches and other unecessary health issues. Just try not to fall asleep in the gym as this is not a good look!