So you get your workout done and some mornings you walk out of the studio thinking, hey, that wasn’t so bad. I killed that one. Then the next day at lunch time it hits … maybe it is just a mild dull pain or maybe you have some stiffness. What is that? Why does it happen? … and what can I do about it!
First off, a caveat — we are not proponents of pain here. “No pain, no gain” while having a nice little motivational ring to it, is hardly a sustainable philosophy. If you work out regularly, and particularly if you push the envelope a lite once in a while, you are going to feel something you may characterized as pain. But let’s be clear — there is a discernible difference between pain due to a real injury and the muscle soreness you experience after a challenging workout. The former is a red flag and is your body’s way of telling you it needs to be fixed before you stress that spot again. The latter however, we might actually in a very odd way, enjoy. Heck, we even give it a fancy name — Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness .. or “DOMS”.
So just what causes DOMS? It is actually the result of tiny tears within muscle tissues — which happen when you work out. The pain you sense is your body’s way of letting you know that repairs are underway and you should challenge other parts of your body and come back when the soreness leaves.
Can I do anything about it? This question actually comes in two flavors — one, many wonder if they can prevent it. Sure, stay on the couch. You’ll get all sorts of other not very pleasant side effects, but inactivity is very effective at preventing this sort of soreness! But you’re not a couch potato … you did this on purpose and now it doesn’t feel so good. So, on the assumption that you buy in to the notion that this is actually a good sign and just something to deal with, here’s a few suggestions on getting a bit of relief from that pain response.
Gentle stretching can help .. but do it cautiously. We like to do our workout stretching AFTER the workout when muscles are warm and pliant, but a bit of gentle stretching can help alleviate some stiffness.
Foam rolling can help .. a bit like giving yourself a massage (which also helps)
Movement! Very effective is to simply not spend extended periods without movement. So, if you’re doing a cross country drive, starting it right after finishing your leg day workout is not exactly optimal.
Hydrate and Refuel! We are largely made up of water. When we sweat, we lose not only some water, but we also sweat out essential minerals. We need to put that stuff back in .. and give our body some fuel for the rebuild of the damaged muscle. It is helpful to eat protein with every meal, but be particularly diligent about it after a challenging workout
If you are really sore, you may want to resort to a little ibuprofen. But avoid that if you can. It is far better to re-nutrify the body and let it do what is does very well naturally than to mask the problems with medication.
We did a few pretty rigorous sessions this week and added a few things in that may have led to some soreness …. if you are little sore, it is very likely just a sign you were working hard. Bravo!!