We’ve all had those days when the pre workout hits harder than usual (which may or may not be due to using a “generous” scoop), your favorite tunes are blasting, and you feel impervious. Next thing you know, you’re drenched, an hour and half has gone by, you’ve done 50% more volume than usual, and shattered three PRs.
You feel indomitable. You go about the rest of your day and lay your head down at night knowing you’ve crushed it!
Then, the next morning arrives…
Aching in places you forgot even existed consumes your body, simply rolling out of bed is a chore, and forget about trying to shower without your arms trembling.
You, my friend, are the beneficiary (or victim) of almighty delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Rest assured you’re not alone, your current state of discomfort is something we’ve all shared before (more than we’d like to admit).
To accelerate the riddance of DOMS and get you back to feeling fully human again, here are 5 science-backed ways to reduce DOMS.
Sleep is the superhero of recovery and results. With adequate, quality sleep everything is better -- mood, motivation, focus, performance, appetite control, and recovery.[1,2] Sleep excerpts recommend 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night for adults.
But, what if you have trouble falling asleep or going back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night?
Here are some pointers to try:
- Establish (and adhere to) a consistent bedtime
- Create a sustainable nighttime ritual that helps sets the stage for deep sleep
- Restrict blue light exposure (tv, tablets, computers, smartphones, etc.) two hours before bed
- Limit caffeine/alcohol in the afternoon/evening
- Have a cup of herbal tea (such as chamomile)
- Perform stretches or light yoga
- Avoid sources of stress (texts, work emails, news outlets, etc.)
Another option is to invest in a quality nighttime relaxation and recovery aid, such as 1UP Relax, Beauty Dream, or Recharge PM. These products contain natural ingredients in research-backed dosages to promote feelings of calm, encourage relaxation, and support deep sleep -- all of which can facilitate recovery and reduce DOMS.
#2 Targeted Carbohydrate Intake
Carbs are essential for performance, especially higher-end performance -- sprinting, resistance training, elite endurance events, crossfit, etc. Dietary carbohydrates are stored as glycogen and provide a valuable source of energy for working muscles during intense exercise. As glycogen stores start to dwindle, the body has to turn to alternative fuels (fatty acids) which are “slower burning” fuel.
Supplementing with carbohydrates during and after your workout can help to supply muscles with performance-boosting energy as well as replenish depleted glycogen stores and stop muscle breakdown. One other big benefit of consuming carbs before, during and after your training session is that it helps to lower cortisol levels[3,4] -- cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone, and when cortisol levels remain high for too long, it can lead to muscle breakdown and DOMS.
Immediately pre workout and intra workout, fast-digesting carbs are ideal as they provide a readily accessible source of energy for muscle cells that are also easy on the digestive system. Tri-Carb contains a precise blend of carbohydrates (along with electrolytes!) that deliver clean, long-lasting energy without the GI upset, “heavy” feeling, or sugar rush experienced with other carb supplements.
Proper hydration is critical to performance, cognitive function, and recovery, even being slightly dehydrated (~2%) can hamper performance, lead to headaches, and increase muscle cramping. [5,6]
When discussing the benefits of hydration, many individuals think that simply means increasing water intake, and, while consuming enough water is important for maintaining healthy hydration, that’s only part of the equation. In addition to water, consuming enough electrolytes is key. Electrolytes are charged minerals that regulate fluid balance in the body, impact muscle contraction/relaxation, and support countless other biological processes…including muscle recovery!
In fact, research shows that consuming electrolytes, alongside carbs, accelerates recovery following intense exercise as well as promotes an anabolic state. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous, and they can be obtained from the diet as well as in supplements, including Her BCAA/EAA, His BCAA/EAA, and Tri-Carb (which includes both carbohydrates and electrolytes).
Intense exercise can cause muscle damage, oxidative stress and muscle inflammation, which contribute to DOMS. Polyphenols are a family of >8,000 plant-based compounds heralded for their health benefits. In particular, polyphenols possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and nitric oxide (NO) benefits.
How does this impact muscle recovery and DOMS?
Inflammation, which typically is oversimplified and gets a bad rap, is the body’s inherent response to muscle damage, which promotes the removal of damaged cell components and induces tissue regeneration.
Polyphenol-rich extracts, such as grape seed, green tea, turmeric, pomegranate, and blueberry, have been rigorously investigated and found to improve workout performance and muscle recovery. Our Greens & Reds superfoods as well as our Daily Kickstart Wellness Shot contain polyphenol-rich ingredients that offer a great option to increase polyphenol intake and support recovery.
#5 Essential Amino Acids
Protein delivers the vital building blocks (essential amino acids, EAAs) that your muscles need to effectively repair and recover. Not consuming enough quality protein, that contains all nine EAAs, the body needs to stimulate and support protein synthesis, effectively limits your ability to recover, which can accentuate DOMS.
Consuming enough dietary protein each day (~1g/lb of bodyweight) supplies adequate amounts of all the EAAs and BCAAs your body needs to fuel muscle recovery. However, we all have those occasions where we’re pressed for time and/or not able to abide by our normal nutrition plans. That’s when a BCAA/EAA supplement can come in handy.
His BCAA/EAA as well as Her BCAA/EAA provides a full complement of amino acids (and electrolytes) to support protein synthesis, resist protein breakdown, and aid hydration -- all of which can help combat the onset of DOMS.
DOMS is something that everyone will have to deal with at some point or another during their fitness journey. It’s uncomfortable (borderline miserable at times), but with the right combination of workout programming, nutrition, and supplementation, DOMS can be minimized. Use the pointers in the article to keep muscle soreness in check and stay consistent with your training so that you can get the results you want!
- Chennaoui M, Vanneau T, Trignol A, Arnal P, Gomez-Merino D, Baudot C, Perez J, Pochettino S, Eirale C, Chalabi H. How does sleep help recovery from exercise-induced muscle injuries? J Sci Med Sport. 2021 Oct;24(10):982-987. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2021.05.007. Epub 2021 May 18. PMID: 34074604.
- Vandekerckhove M, Wang YL. Emotion, emotion regulation and sleep: An intimate relationship. AIMS Neurosci. 2017 Dec 1;5(1):1-17. doi: 10.3934/Neuroscience.2018.1.1. PMID: 32341948; PMCID: PMC7181893.
- Mor A, Kayacan Y, Ipekoglu G, Arslanoglu E. Effect of carbohydrate-electrolyte consumption on insulin, cortisol hormones and blood glucose after high-intensity exercise. Arch Physiol Biochem. 2019 Oct;125(4):344-350. doi: 10.1080/13813455.2018.1465098. Epub 2018 Apr 21. PMID: 29681197.
- Smith JW, Krings BM, Shepherd BD, Waldman HS, Basham SA, McAllister MJ. Effects of carbohydrate and branched-chain amino acid beverage ingestion during acute upper body resistance exercise on performance and postexercise hormone response. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2018 May;43(5):504-509. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2017-0563. Epub 2017 Dec 15. PMID: 29244956.
- Riebl SK, Davy BM. The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance. ACSMs Health Fit J. 2013 Nov;17(6):21-28. doi: 10.1249/FIT.0b013e3182a9570f. PMID: 25346594; PMCID: PMC4207053.
- Backes TP, Fitzgerald K. Fluid consumption, exercise, and cognitive performance. Biol Sport. 2016 Sep;33(3):291-6. doi: 10.5604/20831862.1208485. Epub 2016 Jul 2. PMID: 27601785; PMCID: PMC4993146.
- Tangney CC, Rasmussen HE. Polyphenols, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2013 May;15(5):324. doi: 10.1007/s11883-013-0324-x. PMID: 23512608; PMCID: PMC3651847.
- Volpe-Fix AR, de França E, Silvestre JC, Thomatieli-Santos RV. The Use of Some Polyphenols in the Modulation of Muscle Damage and Inflammation Induced by Physical Exercise: A Review. Foods. 2023 Feb 21;12(5):916. doi: 10.3390/foods12050916. PMID: 36900433; PMCID: PMC10001084.
- Harty P.S., Cottet M.L., Malloy J.K., Kerksick C.M. Nutritional and Supplementation Strategies to Prevent and Attenuate Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage: A Brief Review. Sport. Med.-Open. 2019;5:1. doi: 10.1186/s40798-018-0176-6.