Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the stiffness and pain felt in muscles in the hours and days after strenuous exercise.
At times, this post-workout soreness is manageable and a sign that you’ve had a great workout. Other times, DOMS can be downright debilitating, and it can seem like a chore to simply roll out of bed or stand up from a chair.
We’ve all dealt with horrendous DOMS a time or two in our training career, and today, we’re going to discuss four strategies you can implement starting right now to help beat post-workout muscle soreness.
Let’s start off by discussing why muscles get sore.
Why Do Muscles Get Sore?
The reason that intense physical activity (resistance training, HIIT, sprinting, etc.) is so effective for bringing about change (fat loss, muscle gain, body recomposition) is that it imposes significant amounts of tension and stress on the various muscle groups of the body.
However, this same tension (while necessary for growth and adaptation) can also lead to muscle damage, which is a large part of the reason why muscles get sore post-workout.
Inflammation also occurs as a result of hard training, which is necessary (and beneficial), but can also lead to tenderness in muscle bellies as the body repairs itself.
The good news is that post-workout muscle soreness typically subsides 2-3 days following training (48-72 hours).
If you find that you’re dealing with post-workout muscle soreness that isn’t subsiding after a few days, try some of these pointers to help beat muscle soreness.
How to Beat Post-Workout Muscle Soreness
#1 Consume Enough Protein
Protein is vital to muscle repair and growth, and not consuming enough of it can seriously impair your body’s recovery capabilities, which could result in excessive post-workout muscle soreness.
One easy way to ensure you’re getting enough protein each day is to have protein before and after training. Our favorite way to get some much needed post workout protein is to mix up a serving of 1UP Whey Protein or 1UP ISO Protein and drink it immediately after training.
Having protein immediately following your workout halts muscle protein breakdown and kickstarts the muscle recovery process by flooding the body with valuable protein and essential amino acids it needs to repair the damaged muscle fibers.
To further support recovery, we also like to have carbohydrates following training in the form of fast-digesting carbohydrates like those included in our premium-grade carb supplement Tri-Carb.
Following training glycogen stores can be depleted which can lead to increased feelings of fatigue and soreness. Using a fast-digesting carb matrix, like the one contained in Tri-Carb, enhances glycogen replenishment and muscle recovery, by stopping protein breakdown and facilitating the uptake of amino acids.
#2 Drink Enough Fluids
Our bodies are made up of ~60% water, and water is involved in virtually every biological process that occurs within the body, which should serve as a big indicator that consuming enough fluids is essential to not only surviving, but thriving.
Hydration status, unsurprisingly, also affects muscle recovery.
Dehydration can reduce circulation and blood flow to skeletal muscles, which means metabolic by-products generated during exercise aren’t cleared as efficiently and essential nutrients like amino acids and glucose don’t get delivered to your muscles as quickly to support repair, recovery, and growth.
Dehydration can also lead to mineral and electrolyte imbalance, further exacerbating cramping and muscle soreness while delaying the recovery and growth process.
Ensure that you’re consuming enough fluids each and every day, not just before, during, and after your workout. Recovery is a round-the-clock venture. It only begins when the workout is over. One perfect way to hydrate and start muscle recovery is by drinking His BCAA/EAA or Her BCAA/EAA during workout.
#3 Don’t Overtrain
A big part of avoiding post-workout muscle soreness is being smart with your training and programming. This is why we include a customized training program with every entry in our transformation challenges.
Doing too much weekly volume and/or going too hard and heavy in a single workout can induce excessive amounts of muscle damage, which will leave you feeling horrendously sore (and unable to train that muscle group again) for several days (and, in certain cases, up to a week!).
Taking things slow and steady with your training is the way to do. You don’t make progress by inflicting the metabolic equivalent of a neutron bomb on your muscles. You make progress by adding a few reps here and there, increasing your weights from week to week, increasing range of motion, etc.
Slow, steady, sustainable progress is the way to go. Save the “go big, or go home” mentality and simply focus on improving upon your previous performance.
#4 Foam Roll
Foam rolling is a great strategy for beating post-workout muscle soreness. It helps iron out the “kinks” in the muscles and connective tissue that can develop from hard training.
It helps increase circulation, mobility, and range of motion (all of which can be limited with muscle soreness).
Foam rolling doesn’t have to be long or complicated. A few minutes before or after your workout, or even at home when you’re relaxing and watching NetFlix is all it takes to help beat post-workout muscle soreness.
For smaller areas (rear delts, for ex.), you might find it better to use a lacrosse ball than a foam roller.
Post-workout muscle soreness is a natural part of hard training. Some individuals experience more soreness than others, but at some point or another we all deal with it.
Use the tips above to help reduce the duration and severity of your muscle soreness so that you can get back in the gym faster and keep working your way to your best results ever!
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