Recovery Tips for Sore Muscles
Your proud of yourself, just killed a workout or race like never before, you are feeling good then next day and even two days later it hits you…BAM!!! You can barely walk, quads, hamstrings are completely shredded and you can’t even think about ascending or descending stairs. Worst part is you have a group ride, race or event coming up and you can’t imagine recovering in time to perform at your best…so what ya gonna do?! It’s a case of the DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness(Defn. It is thought to be caused by eccentric (lengthening) exercise, which causes microtrauma to the muscle fibers. After such exercise, the muscle adapts rapidly to prevent muscle damage, and thereby soreness, if the exercise is repeated.) It is what happens a day or two after working our muscles harder than normal or in a different way then they are used too. Your muscles get beat up with tiny muscle tears and strains and the pain and discomfort can be unbearable.
So how can we avoid this unpleasant experience of hobbling around at the office?
- Ease into a new form of exercise. Haven’t run in a long time? don’t go out of the gate and run a few miles at a hard pace. ease into it with some 15-20 min jogging and slowly increase the time distance and pace over time. I know if I haven’t run in awhile, I typically will get shin splints so I ease into it. Squats and lunges are another good one to ease into go lighter with more reps 12-15 with lighter weight and increase over time the weights and lowering the reps
2. Massage helps! Massage the area gently with a foam roller or other self massage tool or go enjoy a massage from a professional therapist. Massage helps flush out toxins and heal spent tissue while bringing in fresh oxygen and nutrient rich blood to promote healing and speeding up recovery. It’s best to massage sooner than later after a tough workout session to help prevent and alleviate soreness.
Self Massage techniques:
Use a Barbell
Use this to loosen up your calves and Achilles tendons, especially after a tough ride or cross-training session. Place your lower legs on the bar (or even one leg at a time on the handle of a dumbbell or kettlebell) and move them from side to side to break up adhesions.
Secure a thick, looped resistance band to an anchor point—a squat cage is perfect. Then, step inside the free end so it sits above your ankle. Facing away from the anchor, walk forward a few steps to put tension in the band. Now drive your knee past your toes several times. Repeat with your other leg. Physical therapists call this “band distraction.” The benefit is better ankle mobility.
Softball or Lacrosse ball
Work on your glutes and chest. Helps improve hip mobility and upper-body range of motion. Sit on a softball (or a lacrosse ball if you can handle it) and dig into your glute muscles, which can become knotted and tight from prolonged sitting. Repeat with the ball sandwiched between your chest and a wall.
3. Don’t ice it, Heat it! For delayed onset muscle soreness it’s best to use heat on those sore muscles. Often times athletes will grab the ice pack or frozen peas but that’s best for acute injuries. This is a great time to relax in the warm tub and grab the epsom salt bath crystals. This one is my favorite after a race and I use the one with lavendar in it to help relax and get ready for a good nights rest. A good 20 minutes here is well worth it! Using a heating pad and taking a warm bath does wonders for muscle soreness. The heat will help increase healing blood flow to the sore muscles speeding recovery and making it feel much better. Heat also helps the muscles relax which gets you moving easier with less pain.
4. Get moving! Active Recovery should be a part of your training regimen. A brisk walk a zone 1 recovery ride with a higher cadence will get you loosened up and the blood flowing to promote healing.
5. Fuel the Ferrari! Eat right as Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine”. Your body needs proper nutrition to work at peak performance. Eat clean to train and compete mean! Not sure on what clean eating really is? give my FREE 5 Day clean Eating group a go. a 3:1 or 4:1 carbs to protein ratio is highly recommended post workout or race to fuel your muscles properly to heal and re-build fast and also to help eliminate muscle soreness. My favorite recovery drink is Recover. It takes the guess work out and you simply mix it with water and good to go.
6. Sleep well! Get a good night’s sleep. They say athletes are made in bed: Getting a good nights rest is KEY to your success. This is where the work is done, your body builds and repairs so you can perform at your optimal level. 8 hoursof sleep is untapped training time. Track your sleep hours with a Fitbit or other device and see how your body responds to more under the sheets time. Try Yogi Bedtime tea, this is oneof my favorites for helping me relax and get ready for bed at night.
7. Pain meds. I don’t recommend anti inflammatory meds like ibuprofen unless you really need them. It may help you feel better in the short-term, but won’t help speed up the healing process. There is a ton of research out there on how anti-inflammatory meds can cause damage to your stomach and small intestines during exercise. This can inhibit nutrient absorption as well. I am not an expert here so do your research on anti inflammatory meds.
8. Hydration! You want your body to recover faster and perform better right?! hydration plays a huge factor. Work to get at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water a day. 150 lb individual would need to consume a min. 75 ounces of water a day for optimal performance.
9. Use a recovery drink! This will make a difference in your recovery and reduce muscle soreness. a well designed good science based post-workout supplement works best when taken within 30 minutes of completing a workout or hard event. I like Recover for Post-workout/race as it helps your body recover and rebuild by providing the building blocks needed for lean muscle development. I also recommend a nighttime supplement that works awesome and is great for curbing that unhealthy late night snack. Recharge is a supplement designed to be taken within one hour of going to bed to prevent “wake-up soreness” that can happen 24-48 hours after a workout. Recharge contains slow-release casein protein to increase muscle synthesis and decrease muscle breakdown that can happen overnight.
10. Stretch Do some lite stretching or easy yoga to aid in recovery. Stretching will help remove lactic acid and bring more blood flow and nutrients to the muscle promoting healing. Never do static stretches(holding the stretch for 15-30 sec) before a workout. Save the static stretches for after workout as they will aid in improving flexibility but hinder initial athletic performance prior to activity. More on this later. You are better off doing dynamic stretches before a workout.
Important: Try these tips and experiment to see what works best for you. Be sure to give yourself ample recovery time so your muscles can repair, get stronger and you will ultimately perform better. Let me know how it goes!