You may have noticed that around 24-48 hours after a difficult exercise session that your muscles feel tired or more sore than usual – don’t worry it’s normal! It’s called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and basically means you’ve worked your body out in a way that it’s not used to. This is a good thing, as pushing your body to its limits causes it to change; to become fitter and stronger. Pressure makes diamonds baby!
Here are some ways to relieve your tired muscles – whether it’s DOMS or just post-workout soreness – and get you back on your feet quickly. Please also note that there’s a difference between DOMS and strained/pulled muscles, so if you’ve got sharp pain going on or are feeling it in your joints rather than your muscles it’s best to consult a physiotherapist.
1. Stretch it out!
Aside from the warm up, stretching is often forgotten or purposely left off the end of workouts and Kiwi gym-goers especially are notorious for it. Lack of stretching can cause increased tightness and soreness in your muscles the next day, so it’s an important addition to tack onto the end of your fitness session. Stretching regularly also helps increase flexibility which means you’re less likely to get injured – bonus.
2. Cool down and walk it out!
Another thing commonly left off the end of workouts is the cooldown. Doing some kind of cardio at a reduced intensity allows your heart rate and blood flow to return to normal, helps prevent stiffness the next day, and helps pump more oxygen into your body to get rid of lactic acid buildup.
Even if you’re feeling sore the next day, doing some kind of light cardio – such as walking – warms up the muscles again and can help relieve the pain/take away some of the tightness.
3. Massage? Don’t mind if I do!
Massage increases blood flow and helps ease muscle tension. Just remember that there are different kinds of massage – the best if you’re experiencing muscle tightness is a sports, deep tissue or physiotherapy-style massage as relaxation massages won’t get into those knots properly! Not for the faint hearted though, it may feel like your body’s under attack at the time, but your muscles will thank you for it. You can also use a foam roller, or get your friend or partner to do the massage if you
4. Apply some heat
Spending some time in a sauna, steamroom, hot tub or if you don’t have access to those, applying a heat rub like Deep Heat may help. This will also increase blood flow to your muscles and get them to heal up faster.
5. Apply some ice
Yes, we know this is the complete opposite to the last suggestion, but some independent clinical studies have shown an ice bath taken in the period immediately following an intense workout may improve physical recovery – although evidence has been minimal and no definite conclusions on why it could work have been drawn. But despite that, this method has become increasingly popular amongst elite level athletes. While taking an ice bath may be a bit tricky, you could always take a cold shower instead.
Photo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Ambro