Today we have a special guest post by Cat Smiley
Anyone who has trained hard understands the intense ‘after-math’ that hits your muscles during the initial stages of working out, or adapting to a new level of training. For the first few days/weeks, if you are training hard there will be an extreme level of muscle stiffness, fatigue, and weakness that you’ll be forced to deal with – the kind of feeling that makes it seemingly impossible to get off the couch.
BUT you are feeling this pain for a good reason. Your body is building greater muscle strength, stamina, and endurance. You may feel this every day, but this is perfectly normal. Every day that you train hard, you are causing microscopic tearing in your muscle fibers. This tearing of muscles occurs mostly during eccentric contractions, in which the muscle is contracting while lengthened, such as going down stairs, the downward motion of squats and push-ups. This is why sitting down, standing up, walking, and any movement in general hurts. These micro-tears and the repairing of them is what build your muscles increasing your strength.
We all know it is no fun to be sore and it can also be very discouraging because your brain is telling you that you need to work out, while your body is creaking and groining in agony telling you not to exercise or even move. But even though your muscles hurt and you don’t want to move, you are still making gains by exercising – even though actually doing it can be another story. Says Clint Goyette (34) a recruit in Whistler Fitness Vacations in Whistler; “I push myself by seeing the results. I know after years of working out that the results take time and effort. There are no magic ways of gaining muscle or increasing your cardio. I know that it comes from hard work and perseverance.”
Tips to Reduce Soreness
1. Reduce soreness with a very thorough warm-up prior to working out, and cool-down after.
2. Stretch throughout the day after your workout to keep muscles loose.
3. Keep moving – this will also help keep your blood circulating promoting healing.
4. If you just can’t stand the pain you can use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (aspirin or ibuprofen) to reduce the soreness temporarily, however this will not speed healing.
If you are still sore after all this, take a deep breath and take an ice bath. Just fill up your tub with cold water and ice if available OR if you don’t have a bath tub, spray the cold water on your legs or arms for about 5-7 minutes (do not submerge your whole body in the cold water, mainly just your limbs!!!) The ice bath will help reduce the swelling caused by the micro-tears in the muscles and promote healing. Keep moving after the ice bath and get your blood circulating.
Warming up and cooling down are a very important process in preventing and reducing muscle stiffness and getting you ready for tomorrow’s workout!
Cat is a renowned fitness personality and has been named Canada’s top trainer three times by the International Sports Science Association. She is the owner of Canada’s leading weight loss retreat for women, located in Whistler, B.C.
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How do you relieve muscle soreness?