The other day, I received an email from my sister-in-law asking for tips about managing soreness after exercise. (Hi, Diana!) Around lunchtime, I received another email from a client about how to overcome soreness after starting a new program. Then in the afternoon, a random article was posted on Facebook about the WRONG ways to manage soreness.
I think I'm going to write about soreness today.
WHY are you sore?
Whenever we stress our muscles, microtears form within the muscle tissue. During the days that follow, new muscle tissue replaces and repairs the muscles. This allows the body to create stronger muscles if we allow it. The soreness we perceived often occurs during the rebuilding. This is referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and it is completely normal.
You may expect soreness when you start a brand new workout program, increase intensity of existing routine or come back to exercise after a break.
WHAT to do if you are sore?
There are several ideas on what works best. It would be best to try a few different remedies and find which you like best. No method will work 100% of the time.
Before we get to that, how bad is your soreness?
- The morning after a hard workout, rate your soreness on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 meaning "I feel rested and ready for more" and 5 meaning "I can't WALK!!")
If you are 1-2 on the scale: Carry On!
- At this point, your soreness isn't impeding you from workouts or your daily life. Make sure that you are drinking your fluids and think about increasing your intensity for your workouts.
If you are at 3-4 on the scale: Let's Modify!
- For your next scheduled workout, you may want to consider sticking with a low-impact version of your workout.
- Also, try some of these tips:
- Gentle stretching is a great way to improve your flexibility. Stretching after your warm up helps release those muscles better because your muscles are warm and more flexible.
- Do you have yoga or stretching part of your regular routine? Well... you should!
- Rub it in
- If possible and within your budget, consider getting a sports massage.
- If not, you can also "rub in" a natural muscle relief lotion. My favorite one is found here!
- Roll out
- Foam rollers help you with self-myofascial release which is a fancy way of saying "self massage."
- There are a number of types. But a plain one is a great place to start. And yes, it should be uncomfortable.
- Other remedies that I don't use include:
- Heat Therapy
- Drink Tart Cherry Juice
If you are at a 5: Rest!
- You really went all out, right?! Take it easy but make sure that you keep moving. Use some of the remedies listed above and look forward to the next time when you can workout.
- After a day or two, your soreness should lessen. If it does not decrease after seven days or gets worse, you might want to see a doctor.
Note: When I refer to soreness today, I'm talking about muscle soreness. If you ever feel pain, discomfort or pinching in your joints or elsewhere, please see a doctor.
P.S. Did you know that there are a few more spots left in my next group. Reserve your spot before they run out!