If you are like many people gearing up for summer, you might experience a little muscle soreness the next day or so after a workout. Although uncomfortable a little soreness may not be a bad thing, but if you went a little overboard and feel extra beat-up, there are some natural methods to alleviate some of the discomfort.
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, excess free radicals, and release of hormones. Eccentric exercises, sometimes called negative repetitions, 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.
Research is mounting to support the use of different juices as 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 more quickly.
It is thought that the antioxidants may help with reducing inflammation. Studies involving the use of pomegranate, tart cherry juice and even chocolate have shown positive results reducing DOMS.
A study out of Pennsylvania State University found that, “In summary, the (chocolate) drink was effective in decreasing the level of self-reported perceived soreness after exhaustive exercise.” If the goal is fat loss, it might be wise to skip the extra calories inside the drinks and try another recovery strategy.
Although it might seem contradictorily, light exercise can help reduces soreness. A study by Sayers and associates examined the difference between light exercise versus rest on a sore muscle. After heavy biceps curls subjects were either put in a sling so the elbow joint couldn’t move or performed light biceps curls using 5-pound dumbbells. Strength recovery was actually better in the exercise group, probably because of the increase in blood flow.
Try adding pomegranate or cherry to your diet, or some light exercise like walking or riding a bike to help reduce muscle soreness and if you are still too tired or sore to train consistently at a high level, it may be advisable to rest a bit.
As always consult your doctor prior to starting any diet or exercise program, and if you are unsure how to properly perform any exercise seek the advice of a trained fitness professional.
Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach that trains at Sierra Athletic Club and a training center instructor at Barton Memorial Hospital. Kyler specializes in adult fitness over 50 and rehabilitation after injury. Visit www.KCstrength.com for more information.