Recover faster after workout soreness
July 5, 2013
If your goal is to become leaner, stronger, build muscle or increase performance the most important variable is consistency. If a workout leaves you so stiff and sore that you can't move for a week, results will come slowly at best. However, if you can reduce soreness and restore strength levels quicker, you will reach your goals faster.
Delayed onset muscle soreness describes a phenomenon of muscle pain, particularly when the muscle is stretched or touched, muscle soreness and/or muscle stiffness that typically peaks 24-48 hours after exercise and gradually disappears within seven days. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is most frequently felt when you begin a new exercise program, change your exercise routine, or dramatically increase the duration or intensity of your exercise routine.
Several factors contribute to DOMS, including the actual physical stress placed upon the muscles causing small tearing of the muscle and release of hormones. Eccentric exercises, the controlling or lowering of the weight, are proven to increase muscle damage and thus increase DOMS. Examples of eccentric exercise would be downhill running and slowly lowering the bar during a bench press.
Sometimes stretching is used to reduce DOMS. Many people stretch before or after working out, and for good reason. Stretching may prevent injury, improve performance and it just feels good. However, will it help prevent or reduce muscle soreness?
A recent review study, "Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise," reviewed 12 different stretching studies. One study included 2,377 participants and found that, "The evidence from the studies suggests that muscle stretching, whether conducted before, after, or before and after exercise, does not produce clinically important reductions in delayed-onset muscle soreness in healthy adults".
Research is mounting to support the use of different juices as a highly effective recovery aids. It appears that supplementing your pre- and post-workout with antioxidants can provide a powerful assistance to recovery by reducing soreness and restoring strength.
It is thought that the antioxidants may help with reducing inflammation. Studies involving the use of pomegranate and tart cherry juice have shown positive results reducing DOMS, better yet even chocolate has potential.
Should you exercise a sore muscle? A study by Sayers and associates examined the difference between light exercise versus rest on a sore muscle. After heavy biceps curls, subjects either put a sling on so the elbow joint couldn't move or had the participants do light biceps curls. Strength recovery was better in the exercise group, probably because of the increase in blood flow, the authors noted.
The most effective way to reach a fitness goal is through consistency, even if its the best workout program ever written. Using antioxidants or light exercise, like walking or jogging, has been shown to help reduce workout soreness so you can get back on track and closer to your fitness goal.
Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach who trains at Sierra Athletic Club and in the homes of clients in the greater Lake Tahoe area. Crouse specializes in performance enhancement and injury prevention. Please visit http://www.KCstrength.com for more information.
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