Everyone has workouts they know are going to slow them down the next day. Being sore comes with involvement in any fitness activity, and can really dampen your enthusiasm. If you’ve taken some time off or are starting something new, it’s a good idea to plan for the stiff, sore body you’ll be stuck in for the next few days, and best way to deal with muscle soreness is to prepare for it. Leave time in your day for stretching or schedule a massage when you know you are going to push the limits of your muscles.
The most important thing to know is that if you’re sore, it means you are getting stronger! During your workout, you strained those aching muscles by putting tiny little tears in them. The effort of your body to repair these small rips causes the inflammation that leads to muscle soreness. It’s also nice to know that it won’t last forever because each activity you do will lead to less and less muscle damage as your body adjusts to the new demands you place on it. Keeping your routine mixed up is a great way to keep muscles working and stop them from being achy and sore.
When you are achy and sore, most people head straight to the medicine cabinet. While taking ibuprofen or aspirin might ease pain and reduce swelling, it also slows the healing process. Your favorite pain reliever does this by impeding the ability of bones, ligaments, and tendons to heal and, if taken frequently, can also cause stomach and liver problems. If you try taking one of these medications before a workout to prevent soreness, you’re actually hurting yourself more than helping. The response of your body to training will lessen and, since taking these types of drugs has been shown to cause an increase in inflammation, you can end up in a more painful situation than you intended.
The best way to prevent soreness is to stretch out when you’re finished with your session. Five minutes spent lengthening those hard working muscles can ward off a day spent stiff and sore. After stretching, you also need to make sure your body has all the tools it needs to repair the damaged muscles, so get your protein and rehydrate within 30 minutes of working out. You can also use heat, ice and massage as a way to ward off some post workout suffering. Using heat will increase blood and oxygen flow to the damaged area and help clean out any chemicals stuck in there. Massage breaks up the adhesions created during a tough session and, like heat, allows increased blood flow and nutrients to get where they need so your muscles are repaired. Ice can ease pain and will decrease swelling, so ice for twenty minutes four times a day to aid in healing.
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