Muscle soreness can be extreme in the days after a workout. If you have been out of the gym for a while, the thought of the lactic acid soreness the days after you train is enough to scare you off getting back in.
I took 3 weeks off legs recently and i done the sensible manly thing as usual. I went in to the gym with the full-on intention of "going light".
Whilst I did not break and records in terms of lifting heavy, I did far too much volume. Not only did I do far too much volume, but I actually worked my muscles to failure. With multiple sets.
You'd think I'd learn at my age, but at least you get the benefit of not repeating my mistakes. The sorest part for me was my calves. They got extremely sore 2 days after my workout.
At night in bed I couldn't get comfortable. My calves felt closed to cramping and I was scared to death they were going to cramp in the night. I think I would rather be shot than to have another extreme calf cramp.
I have had 2 or 3 over the years, and if you have ever had one I know you fell my pain. So I could hardly walk down the stairs for the next few days as my quads, hams and calf muscles were so tight.
I was even getting pain in my knees as I didn't have a full range of movement in my legs.
I settled the matter a bit with some hamstring stretches, foam rolling would also have helped, but I'll be honest here, I couldn't be bothered. I was off on holidays with the kids and I decided to push through the pain.
I went back in the gym a week later and made sure I added some foam rolling in as my pre-workout warm up.
BTW if you want to start your muscle repair and recovery phase as quick as possible, read our article on how the right cooldown music can get you into this zone much quicker.
I was also the victim of science, in particular a phenomenon known as Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness (DOMS). This actually refers to the amplified pain I was feeling which got progressively worse 2 days after my training session.
Serious Aspects Of Training Recovery
If you are training for more serious goals than I was of late, there are some spectacular scientific reasons that you should be aware of, of why you should make recovery an essential part of your training intelligence.
- If you can improve your recovery ratio you can boost your training volume and intensity. If you are in a training cycle you can up the ante each week until you reach your peak training amplitude. Faster recovery aids you here by getting your body ready in time for your next training session.
According to Phil Bishop who has published papers on Strenght & Conditioning & Recovery:
The training stimulus can be considered as a challenge to the organism, as it disturbs homeostasis [10,29] from a physical perspective, and typically elicits a catabolic responseresearchgate
Other Ways To Enhance Recovery
Cold Water Therapy
Seen the footage of Floyd Mayweather or anyone in the fight game taking an ice bath after a fight or a sparring session? Even tennis players like Andy Murray have added this into their training system.
Immersion in ice baths (known as cryotherapy) reduces swelling in the muscles, and lowers inflammation. In the case of professional athletes it helps them recover quicker for the next training session.
Ice is known for it's anti-inflammatory & natural pain relieving properties. That's why it is use as one of the first methods to treat minor soft tissue knocks and injuries with the R.I.C.E. protocol.
If you don't have access to a shed load of ice or hydrotherapy pool a standard pool or a cold shower will be the next best alternative. If you have a load of ice you can fill a barrel with cold water and top it up with ice.
Another technique to apply is contrast water therapy, where you go from extreme cold temperatures to warm temperatures. A shower is the easiest way to do this.
Use BCAA's To Reduce DOMS
Adding branch-chained amino acids to your water supply during a workout is something you can immediately do which doesn't require you to go to any extreme effort, bar shelling out a tenner and adding a scoop to your drink.
BCAA's have been scientifically proven to reduce doms. They will not increase your performance in the gym or eradicate the muscle pain altogether, but they can decrease the pain.
Power lifting legend Andy Bolton thought you don't have to go so extreme. He would walk 1 length of his local swimming pool after a hard weight lifting session as he thought the water itself could sooth the muscles and speed up their rehabilitation.
Stretching At The End Of Your Workout
Stretching is one way to keep you lithe and nimble. If you have restricted range of motion in your muscles, if they are tense it is easier for them to develop knots and in some cases even tear.
You just have to be careful not to over do it as extreme stretching can not only tear the muscles, but also damage bones and ligaments. Light stretching in combination with foam rolling can loosen up knots in the muscle and aid to reduce DOMS. If you are in extreme discomfort days after you work out, hop on the foam roller.
Foam Rolling Helps Loosen Up Muscles
Foam rolling can ease lactic acid and if you suffer from this it will probably kick in worse a few days after you train a particular muscle group. Rolling the area can loosen up tight muscles, which ironically will make your muscle pain more painful.
Foam rolling is also thought to flush lactic acid toxins out of the body as the skin gets a vigorous massage blood circulates at a faster rate to the rolled area.
A deep tissue massage can get into those areas where a foam roller can't. If you have scar tissue from previous injuries, or wear and tear, a deep massage can loosen up those bulges.
In the days after a workout a massage can help alleviate muscle soreness.
Hot Baths Dilate Blood Vessels
It's not all about extreme measures or Artic cold baths. Hot water has been proven to relax tired and aching muscles. Ice is good for extreme inflammation, but if you are extremely tired and your muscles are aching one of the easiest ways to help is with a hot bath.
Hot water opens up the blood vessels which helps blood circulate more easily. Once this happens your muscles become more supple, and the other thing that happens in a warm bath is that it allows the mind to relax.
A relaxed mind is ideal if you want to relax your body.