Muscle stiffness and soreness is a byproduct of a good workout. In order to improve your physical performance, you need to train harder and this hard work includes training with heavier weights, higher number of sets or training at a higher intensity.
Training to achieve peak performance is something every pro athletes practice on a regular basis. But those intense workout sessions lead to the microscopic tears in the muscle tissues which make them weak and more vulnerable to injury.
It’s true, excess pressure allows muscle tissues to go bigger and stronger but ignoring the recovery process may lead to serious injury. Supplementation and post-workout recovery routines are the key to enhanced performance.
However, many fitness enthusiasts neglects the significance of proper recovery. Ahead, we are going to study the importance, tips, and tricks to accelerate the recovery process and relieve muscle soreness.
Understanding muscle soreness:
It’s important to understand the principles of post-workout soreness. Postworkout muscle soreness is also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) which happens because of the micro-tears in your muscles due to resistance training.
** Newbies might experience more pain because their muscles are not really habitual to resistance training.
These micro-tears within the muscles and joints leads to the accumulation of lactic acid and inflammation.
DOMS can happen to anyone and it is totally natural and you don’t really need to worry about.
You can relieve the pain and accelerate the healing process with the help of some supplementation and sports therapies.
Why do you need rest and recovery?
Your rest and recovery routine plays an important role in augmented athletic performance and strength.
Nutrition helps in accelerating the recovery process by repairing the damaged muscle tissues, regulating hormonal balance and triggering chemical reactions on neurological levels.
It’s the rest period that heals your body to develop into a stronger being. Your body releases “Growth hormone” during sleep, which makes it really mandatory to sleep at least 7-8 hours for proper body recovery.
The most important aspect of achiving greater muscle growth and strength is not necessarily how hard you train. It’s your rest and recovery schedule that plays a crucial part.
Types of muscle soreness
Soreness is indeed a part of strength training and improved performance but it’s essential to understand muscle soreness. All postworkout soreness is not the same, some might require a doctor’s intervention.
Post-training muscle soreness can be of three types:
- Pain experienced during or immediately following exercise: stop the workout immediately and see the expert. Acute pain occurring just after the exercise might be the case of muscle tissue tear or other injuries.
- Delayed onset muscle soreness: Its the most common soreness that person experience after a good intense workout session. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is caused by micro-tears and lactic buildup after intense resistance training. DOMS pain might be experienced for 24-72 hours post-workout.
- Pain induced by muscle cramps: Muscle cramps are sudden, intense, electrically active contractions evoked by motor neuron hyperexcitability. Cramps happen due to the fluid-electrolyte imbalance induced by sweating. Having some sports energy drinks or some BCAA can help to relieve cramping.
Importance of recovery after exercise.
Resistance training puts pressure on the muscles to make them stronger but any training is incomplete without a comprehensive rest period.
Rest days allow your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild. Regeneration of muscle into a stronger version needs water, food, nutrition, and sleep.
People say, they feel fatigued, muscle soreness, joint pain because of the overtraining. Frankly speaking, there is nothing like overtraining, you are just not giving your body enough time to recover.
When you train your muscles without enough recovery time then you are leading it to overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, muscle strains, and joint pain.
If you really want to stay away from injuries then its time to take your recovery process more seriously.
Right nutrition and proper rest period is the utmost necessity of the body to develop into a stronger version of itself.
Supplements for muscle recovery and soreness
Enough talked about the basics of post-workout muscle soreness, stiffness, and recovery. Let’s get to know the best supplements to fast track the process of body recovery.
Proteins are the building block of muscle fibers and it’s the most essential component of fast recovery. You can either consume protein through whole food items or by supplementation.
Whey protein supplements are the best alternative to fulfill your body’s protein requirements. Whey protein provides the complete amino acid profile that helps in repairing the damaged tissue.
Whey protein is derived from milk through an extensive filtration process which makes it a completely natural supplement.
After an intense physical workout, it gets really difficult to fulfill the body’s urgent need of protein and here is when whey protein supplements prove really handy.
Another very important supplement that plays a crucial role in muscle repair, development, and strengthening.
Your body needs 20 different amino acids to grow and function properly. While the body has the ability to develop some amino acids on its own but some aminos need to be supplemented through external sources. They are classified divided into two broad categories, essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids.
BCAA’s contain essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) that play an important role in reliving postworkout soreness and increasing the anabolic effects.
It’s one of the most common ingredients of pre-workout supplements.
It’s a compound that gives you tingling effects while workout sessions. Beta-alanine is not just proven to support intense workout but it is also found to reduce soreness.
The human body converts beta-alanine into a compound called “carnosine”, this carnosine is stored in your skeletal muscle tissues which actively works to remove lactic buildup and improved athletic performance.
Beta-alanine is proven to improve the time of exhaustion which results in performing a higher number of repetitions and better strength.
Up to 60 percent of the human body is made up of water, it’s one of the most essential elements your body needs.
Muscle soreness and fatigue also happen because of the elimination of the body’s electrolytic fluids through excess sweating.
Electrolyte salts help in regulating the proper water balance in muscle tissues and reduce the accumulation of lactic buildup.
Best tips for muscle recovery
Let’s talk about the expert tips that most of the pro-athletes are using to accelerate recovery and to save their bodies from uncertain injuries.
Post-workout stretching is as important as a good training session. Take your post-workout stretching routine to the next level through foam rolling.
Foam rolling doesn’t just help in providing a good stretch to the targetted muscle, it also helps in relieving stiffness and clearing lactic buildup.
If done properly, a good foam rolling session can be as beneficial as deep tissue massage. There are thousands of videos available on youtube for your reference.
Always choose a high-density foam for best effects.
Massage guns have taken over the fitness industry with the storm.
It’s my personal favorite way to relieve muscular tension post-workout and to warmup muscle pre-workout. The massage heads dig into the deep layers of muscle tissues to deliver multi-dimensional benefits.
Some of the benefits include
- Stimulates recovery and muscle repair through improved blood flow and lymphatic flow.
- Intense training sessions lead to muscle spasm and stiffness, a massage gun actively relieves spasm and stiffness. The process allows the supply of fresh nutritious blood to the targeted area.
- Do you suffer from muscle knots? A massage gun is the best solution to dissolve them.
- Lactic acid buildup leads to soreness and post-workout stiffness, a massage gun can assist in lactic acid clearance in a matter of minutes.
- Breaks up scar tissue.
TENS and EMS
Heard about TENS and EMS units? It’s the same machine that physiotherapist has been using since decades and now these devices are available in a much portable form.
TENS stands for Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and EMS stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation. TENS and EMS work differently on the body.
While TENS helps in relieving pain through interrupting the pain signal to the brain and EMS helps in stimulating muscle tissues through electrical signals for faster recovery.
The best part is, you don’t need to be an expert to use these devices and they are very easy to use.
Overall, these are the tried and tested methods by professionals and having an inhouse TEMS and EMS unit is a great investment. Below is a video tutorial.
EPSOM salt bath
EPSOM salt baths have been the most cost-effective method of relieving muscle tension and soreness. EPSOM salt bath has been used by athletes for many decades and has proven its effectiveness in multiple scenarios.
EPSOM salt bath can be used after a stressful day or as a post-workout recovery routine. EPSOM salt helps in relieving muscle stiffness and promoting better blood flow throughout the body.
Compression wears works really well in accelerating muscle recovery. So if you had an extensive legs day or just completed a triathlon, your body requires its time to recover from the stress.
Once you are done with foam rolling and deep tissue massage, wearing compression clothing can have additional body repair benefits.
How do they work? Compression clothing helps in boosting the recovery process through narrowing your veins which forces blood to flow at the increased pace. Compression clothing also helps in protecting muscle from excess wear and tear after the workout.
How to avoid muscle soreness and injury
There are a few ways that can help you avoid muscle soreness and uncertain injury. Let’s have a look at the pointers.
The warmup is a stepping stone of any physical activity. It helps in improving blood circulation and prepares the muscle tissues for upcoming resistance.
Pro athletes take their warmup very seriously to maintain the body’s health.
Massage gun is also great for pre-workout warmup, gentle massaging the target muscle can help you prevent injury and experience better strength.
Sleep is the most important component of active recovery, it allows the body to recover itself.
In simple words, there is nothing more anabolic than 8 hours of restful sleep. While in a state of deep sleep your body produces growth hormones that is responsible for active recovery.
Protect the quality of sleep by dropping all the curtains to maintain complete darkness, eliminate any source of blue light and snooze all the electronic devices that might disrupt your sleep.
Some herbs are found to be very effective in improving sleep quality, you can try Gokshura, chamomile tea, Valerian Root supplement, lavender aroma oil for better sleep.
Sometimes it’s just a lack of hydration that is preventing muscle recovery.
Dehydration leads to muscle tightness and makes it more vulnerable to injuries.
Drinking plenty of water ensures the elimination of toxins from body, it also hydrates muscle tissues to stay supple and flexible.
Switch your workouts
It usually happens with people who prefer home workouts.
I have seen many people doing pushups and pullups on a daily basis which leads to experiencing pain and exertion.
Your muscle needs at least 48 hours of time for active recovery. Switching between your workout routine can help you see accelerated progress without being worried about injuries.
Easy bodyweight workout program for strength gain and hypertrophy:
- Monday: 300 pushups in total
- Tuesday: 150 pullups in total
- Wednesday: 400 bodyweight squats
Repeat the cycle for Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Celebrate Sunday as a rest day.
Or you can try different workouts, like swimming, rowing, running, or boxing, to build total-body strength and conditioning.
Take a nap
Research suggests taking a nap around two hours after a workout helps the body to enter restorative states of sleep, which releases natural growth hormones to improve musculature and helps your body to repair.
Try a topical cream
Topical creams (ex- Sweet Sweat) are widely used for weight loss purposes these days but they work really well in relieving post-workout fatigue.
Thanks to ingredients like methyl salicylate, menthol, and capsaicin, topical creams are made to improve blood circulation and warm up the muscle for injury-free performance. These creams also help in achieving better muscle activation and better growth.
Its time to take your recovery routine more seriously. If this imbalance between intense workout and inadequate recovery continues then performance will decline.