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It’s not uncommon to feel exhausted after physical activity, especially when you’re pushing your body to its limit. Whether you’re exercising through intensive cardio, lifting weights, or playing sports, you may feel sluggish or nauseous after you finish. These side-effects are common, but even more prevalent is the soreness you might experience in the affected muscles.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Oftentimes, the aches and pains in your muscles do not immediately present themselves, but instead emerge the next day. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS for short. DOMS occurs due to strenuous activity, such as that caused by a workout, that your body is not accustomed to. It commonly presents itself as a dull ache, though the affected muscles may also cause areas of the body to feel tender or stiff. By practicing these therapies for rapid muscle recovery, you can alleviate (and sometimes prevent) these painful symptoms.
Preparing for Your Workout
Therapy to help your muscles recover from a workout begins well before you start exercising. Here are some tips for getting your body ready for physical activity:
Stretch. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to encourage rapid muscle recovery and prevent injuries is warming up before exercise. A proper warm-up includes some cardio, such as dancing or going for a light jog, followed by stretching. It’s imperative that you stretch not only the muscles that you believe you might be using during your workout, but also areas of your body that are easily prone to injury, such as the neck and back.
Eat. As you exert energy during your workout, your body and muscles need fuel to keep going. It’s important to eat a light meal or snack before exercise that is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and that contains a bit of protein. Some foods you might consider are yogurt, fruit smoothies, or oatmeal.
Drink. Keeping your body properly hydrated is an important first step to any exercise regimen. While water and drinks that replenish electrolytes are important, you can also boost your performance by consuming a cup of tea or coffee prior to your workout. The extra caffeine in your system will help increase your endurance, strengthen your muscles, and minimize any soreness that might occur the next day.
During Your Workout
While in the middle of exercising, your primary focus should always be on your body’s health and well-being.
Keep Moving. Because muscle soreness generally occurs due to strenuous activity that your body is unaccustomed to, easing into and out of workouts can help your muscles grow acclimated to exercise. Think of your workout like a hill, and not a cliff: you want to gradually work your way up to the top before slowly making your way down the other side.
Stay Hydrated. You should drink water regularly throughout your workout. A good rule of thumb is about every 15 to 30 minutes, but you may need more if you notice you’re sweating a lot. Sports drinks that are rich in electrolytes should be used alongside water, and not as a replacement for it!
After Your Workout
Once you’ve finished your routine, post-care is important to preventing your muscles from becoming sore.
Massage. In addition to pre and post-workout stretches, massaging your muscles after a workout can greatly reduce aches and pains. While this can be achieved on your own using a foam roller, many physical therapists and chiropractors offer sports massages that specifically target affected joints and muscles to break up knots and increase circulation.
Shower. Although hot and warm showers can help with circulation, taking a cold shower or ice bath reduces muscle inflammation, alleviating swelling or tenderness and preventing muscles from feeling sore later.
For more ways that CORE Medical & Wellness can help you keep active and healthy, visit https://coremedicalwellness.com/services/non-surgical-orthopedics-spine-and-sports/.
Need Injury Relief?
Sometimes, even proper care isn’t enough to prevent injury to your joints and muscles. If you need additional care after an injury, contact CORE Medical & Wellness at 888-521-0688, or contact us online to schedule your appointment!
Dr. Richard Kang is double board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine, and he completed an interventional pain medicine fellowship at the prestigious New York Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University – College of Physicians and Surgeons. Read his full bio here.