When you are hit by workout DOMS, not only you become less functional with simple day to day tasks like sitting down and standing up, but you also end up delaying your next workout session because you need to take extra days off to fully recover and this can definitely slow down your progress.
The first thing that most trainers and most experts will tell you to do is to stretch the muscles that you’ve just work immediately after your workout but stretching doesn’t really help. In this article I am going to share with you the 5 best ways to relieve workout DOMS as fast as possible so you can get back to living your life without feeling like you’re handicapped and so you can perform at your best during all your work outs.
1. Foam Rolling
Foam rolling has been shown in studies to be a lot more beneficial so this is the first thing you’ll consider to do. It’s also known as self-myofascial release and it essentially allows you to give yourself a massage. Use your gym foam rollers and if your gym doesn’t have one you can get one for very cheap from amazon. Stretching and loosening the fascia around your muscles are the 2 main goals of foam rolling, and to decrease the intensity of sore spots found around the muscles in order to move more freely. It will result in decreased muscle and joint pain, increased circulation and improved mobility. But it is important that you are doing it correctly for it to be effective.
Slowly Start by rolling up and down the muscles that you just worked. After you find sore spots, stop and just sit on those sore spots for 20 to 30 seconds before continuing. You want to do this gently using your hands to support your body weight to not put too much pressure on those spots. Some people make the mistake of finding painful spots and sitting on them for 5 to 10 minutes at a time thinking that more is more. Doing more is totally wrong as it can create further inflammation, 30 seconds at a time is really the most you want to do before leaving that sore spot and possibly coming back to it later.
You also want to spend extra time rolling out the parts of the muscle closer to where they connect your joints. Now full rolling is something that you don’t only want to do directly after your work out to help improve blood flow and circulation but you also want to do it in between your workouts after the delete soreness has already kicked in. 5 minutes is usually more than enough time to roll out a whole section of your body like your legs and even if your full rolling your entire body it really shouldn’t take you longer than 15 minutes.
2. Ice Baths Or Cold Showers
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It’s one of the best muscle soreness prevention strategies used by professional athletes as well as almost all college sports teams but it is only for those of you that are brave. Cold baths can significantly reduce workout DOMS especially when compared to simply resting after work out without any cold therapy intervention at all. After an intense workout your muscles receive a bunch of microscopic tears, this leads to inflammation as the first step in the recovery process.
This information is there to let you know to take it easy on those muscles until they have recovered just like you would apply ice to an injury to lower inflammation, jumping in an ice bath or even taking a cold shower can provide similar benefits. You can find an ice bath in most spots in bathhouses or you can also make your own by simply filling your bathtub with cold water and throwing a bag of ice in there.
A couple minutes in the ice bath is all you need if you are significantly warm before you are getting in. Definitely try to not exceed 68 minutes especially if you don’t have prior experience with ice baths, and ice bath is obviously not an option available for everyone so the simplest way to use cold therapy is by just turning your shower knob down to its coldest temperature setting and then standing under the running water. When first starting this just one minute under the cold water may feel really challenging, so try to do a couple rounds where you switch between one minute of cold water and one minute of warm water. As you do this more and more, you will adapt and you will be able to tolerate the cold water better for longer length of time.
3. Eating Enough Of The Right Macro And Micro Nutrients
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As we all know the amino acids found in protein are the building blocks to our muscles. Without enough essential amino acids in your diet, your muscles will take a lot longer to recover. You will feel sore for longer and your body might even break down some muscle tissue to get those essential amino acids, so make sure you are aiming for anywhere between 0.8 to 1.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Aiming for the lower end of that spectrum when you’re eating enough calories to maintain your current body weight and aiming for the higher end of that spectrum when you are cutting calories to lose weight.
However, it is important to note that studies show that protein isn’t the only thing that affects muscle recovery. Fats in the form of omega 3 fatty acids as well as DHA, EPA and ALA have been linked to a reduction of inflammation. Inflammation is a huge part of what’s making you swore, if we can reduce it, we can recover faster and experience less overall soreness. You can get omega 3 as well as DHA, EPA and ALA from foods like salmon, mackerel, tuna, flax, avocado and walnuts. At the same time, you want to stay away from foods that promote information like fried foods, processed meat soda, refined carbs and even low-quality red meat.
Also, research shows that fruits and vegetables are very important because diets without fruits and veggies can cause slower muscle recovery. Make sure you’re getting at least a couple cups of fruits and vegetables per day. Pineapple, berries, tart cherries and tomatoes can all also help reduce inflammation.
4. Staying Active
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Next, you can reduce soreness by staying active. I know this sounds completely counter intuitive to what you want to do when you feel really sore. However, by staying active you’ll increase circulation and blood flow to your sore muscles and help them recover faster. This doesn’t mean that you should do some heavy barbell squats because that would probably only make things worse if not lead to a full out injury. Instead you want to do low intensity exercises in order to ensure sore muscle relief.
If your legs are sore for example you can try cycling on a bike for a couple minutes or you can simply take a walk or for your upper body you can do some very light body weight movements like wall push-ups and tear rex ropes. A light yoga session can help as well. The key is to keep these activities light. You can still work your upper body hard if your lower body is sore and the same thing vice versa but o stick to light activities for the areas that you’re experiencing soreness in to help with recovery.
5. Use heat to reduce soreness
Heat therapy can be done right and it can be also done wrong. If you start using heat immediately after a workout, you’ll probably wind up with more inflammation than if you just didn’t do anything at all. As we already discussed, right after a workout ice and cold therapy will actually help lower inflammation much more than heat, however a day or 2 after the workout is over when the soreness already starts kicking in, a sauna steam room or a jacuzzi can help your muscles relax, loosen up and can increase blood flow to your sore muscles assisting with the recovery process. You can also use a muscle roller stick inside a sauna or steam room to massage your sore muscles while they are relaxed to help relieve soreness a little bit more.
I really hope this article has helped you out and that you can now experience at least a little bit less soreness and recover a little faster after your workouts.