Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What To Do When Your Muscles Are Sore

Workouts can be literally be a pain in the butt....especially when you start a new program or get back into exercise after a lull. While some nutritional supplements might be helpful in some aspects of recovery, they don't reduce muscle soreness. Nor does stretching before and after the workout. But I know of three research-proven ways to do it.

For one thing, you can engage in some light activity in the days following the workout. You'll feel sore when you start, but moving around increases blood flow. The increased blood flow should help reduce the soreness and stiffness at an accelerated rate, even if you feel like a geriatric patient to begin with.

You could also soak the exercised muscles in cold water immediately after the workout. Researchers from New Zealand found that by doing this, muscle soreness is reduced the next day.  But, who relishes the thought of sitting in a tub of cold water, especially when it is -20C outside!

And that brings me to the easier and most convenient way to reduce soreness: prevention.

Excessive muscle soreness is the result of doing too much. But if you're sore today because you did too much yesterday, you can still exercise. Just be conservative and reduce both the volume and intensity of your workout. When you start up a new program in the future, cut back on the amount of exercise you intend to do by 50 percent. For example, if your workout calls for two sets of squats, just do one set. Then, in your next workout, you'll be ready for the full monty. 

Of course, not allowing yourself to get "out of shape" (I know, round is a shape! ) is the best prevention possible!

"My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is."  - Ellen DeGeneres

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