While instructing my boot camp yesterday, I had one of my “campers” ask me how she could avoid the inevitable soreness she was going to feel from the workout. I told her that you can’t completely avoid soreness, especially after a hard workout like we had yesterday, and because she hasn’t made exercise a steady routine yet. You can, however, do things to reduce that pain.
Before you push yourself during your workout:
- HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE. I know I always talk about water, but it really is nature’s miracle liquid. If you’re adequately hydrated your muscles will be able to bounce back quicker. A good rule of thumb is to drink half an ounce of water per pound of body weight daily. So if you weigh 200 lbs, you need 100 oz of water daily.
- Get plenty of sleep…just do it. Stop making excuses and get to bed. Your body works a lot better when its rested.
- Don’t eat crap before you work out. Protein, complex carbs, and good fat.
During your workout:
- WARM UP!!! I see so many people just head to the weight room as soon as they walk in the door. You need to warm-up your body and muscles!! Lifting with cold muscles is guaranteed to make you sore. A dynamic (or moving) warm-up is the best option. Get on the bike, treadmill, whatever and start slow and gradually increase your intensity. A good warm-up lasts 5-15 minutes.
- Listen to your body as you work out. Do not go, excuse the expression, balls to the wall the first time out. Push yourself in the gym (or wherever you’re working out), but do not push so hard that you hurt yourself. Your muscles will remind you of that the next day.
- Cool down. Just as you shouldn’t start as soon as you walk in the gym, you should leave as soon as you’re done lifting. Go back to a cardio machine and cool down. Then STRETCH!!! Stretching your muscles will help.
- Eat a snack with protein and complex carbs within the hour after you work out. You need to refuel your body since it used up a lot of good stuff during your sweat session.
- A hot/cold shower. Contrasting the temperature will help bloodflow and nutrients get back to your muscles, plus it just feels good to shower after a good workout.
- A hot bath with Epsom salt. The great thing about baths is they are uber relaxing and your muscles just need to relax a bit after getting ripped (literally).
- Icing your muscles might help a bit.
- Get your hubby/wife/bf/gf/kid/whoever to massage the muscles that are aching. Getting a foam roller and rolling your muscles will help too.
- Active recovery!!! The next day, you need to walk, bike, take a light jog, something to get your body moving. Don’t just be a slug on the couch because your body hurts. Sitting there all day will make it worse. Get up, get moving.
Now, since soreness is due to tiny tears in your muscles, you can’t completely avoid it. These things will help, but remember nothing is a miracle cure. Once you get into a routine, the extreme soreness will be replaced by slight soreness whenever you up your weight or change your routine a bit. The soreness might come back when you try something you’ve never tried before, but that’s normal and now you know how to fight it.
Stay sweaty, and maybe little sore, my friends!!