I recently started adding weight-lifting into my workout routine, and while I love how strong it makes me feel, I have also been more sore the last few weeks than I’ve ever been before. I wanted to know if this was normal, and also if there were any ways to speed the process up a bit (there’s only so many times I can slowly lower myself down onto the toilet, y’know?) So I did some research, and I thought after last week’s post on starting a new workout routine, some of you might need this information as well!
One key thing I found in my research is that it is completely normal to be sore after a workout. Soreness happens when you work or move your muscles in a way they aren’t used to; this causes microscopic damage to your muscle fibers, which can cause soreness. When your muscle fibers heal, the muscle will be ever-so-slightly stronger. A bit of muscle soreness is just an indication that you’ve worked your muscles more than they’re used to, and isn’t anything to worry about.
You do have to be careful not to push your body too hard, too fast though; you can cause damage to your muscle fibers that will take a lot more than a couple days to heal. This is why you should always consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise regimen, and make sure to take your rest days.
Okay, so now that you have a bit of background information on muscle soreness, here are some tips that can help you recover faster!
1. Drink plenty of water
We all know it’s important to stay hydrated as you workout, but it’s also super important to stay hydrated after your workout. You’re body sends water to help your muscles recover, and therefore you need to drink lots of it in order to be able to stay hydrated and heal your muscles. The recovery process is more painful if you don’t have enough water in your body.
2. Stretch (before and after a workout)
Stretching can help increase circulation, help realign muscles, increase range of motion, and reduce risk of ongoing aches and pains. If you stretch before a workout it will help prevent injury through increased range of motion, and stretching after will help prevent soreness by increasing circulation and helping stretch out tight muscles.
3. Consume plenty of protein
According to azcentral, “During the workout, the body naturally directs the energy and amino acids to support muscle contractions and not protein synthesis. After a workout, the muscles go through a recovery phase. The recovery phase is when the muscle are repaired. Energy and amino acids are used in protein synthesis, which helps to repair the muscles. The muscle tears that occur during the workout require protein for restoration.” Lean meats such as turkey, chicken, and fish have tons of protein and hardly any fat; you can also try protein shakes, nuts, or eggs if you are vegetarian.
4. Consume plenty of carbohydrates
According to ACTIVE, “without a source of carbohydrates post-workout, your body will not be able to produce insulin, the hormone that drives muscle building. Carbohydrates also help to replace muscle and liver glycogen to refuel your energy stores.” I personally love to eat a banana right before a workout, and after is when I’ll have pasta or rice (with some type of protein).
5. Ice pack/ice bath
Icing a sore area will help reduce inflammation, which will help with immediate relief of sore muscles. I usually have an ice pack wrapped in a towel will put it on the sore area for about 15 minutes. If my whole body is really sore, I’ll take an ice bath, but this is pretty rare. If I do feel the need, I only stay in for 5 minutes at most, and that’s usually enough time to get the effect.
6. Heating pad/ hot bath
Heat helps with circulation, which will in turn help with a speedier recovery. Using a heating pad for 15 minutes on a sore area will help, or taking a warm bath (with epsom salts, if you have them). This is also just a great way to relax your muscles and keep them from getting tight, which will make moving easier.
7. Day after walking
Going for a walk the day after a tough workout can help increase circulation, which will help the muscles heal faster. It also helps warm up your muscles, which will make it easier to stretch and move around.
8. Massage/Foam Roll
Rubbing your muscles will help reduce inflammation, which will help speed up the recovery process. You can use your hands to rub your muscles, or you can try foam rolling. I use my hands for really tender areas (like my calves) and a foam roller for my glutes, upper back, and hamstrings. I have noticed a substantial difference in recovery time since I started foam rolling after a workout.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; rest days are just as important as workout days. If you work your muscles too often, you won’t get the benefits of working out that you want, and it makes it much more likely to get an injury. Take your rest days seriously; if it really bothers you to do nothing, then take a relaxing walk through the park, or do some light stretching. Just don’t do anything that will put strain on your muscles; they need adequate time to recover.
I hope this post is helpful for you! I know it can suck when your body is always sore, and it makes it harder to workout and get motivated when your muscles are aching, and these tips have really helped me only stay sore for a day or two. Just remember not to overdo it! Thank you so much for reading! Let me know if these tips were helpful in the comment section, and be sure to subscribe if you want to see more posts like this in the future!