Some people hold up being incredibly sore after a workout as a trophy of hard work and great gains. “No pain. No Gain.” Right….? No. Abusing your body and being sore will just reduce your overall productivity over the next few days. I’m not saying that ‘soreness’ is bad, but being so sore that you can’t move is. It also means that you pushed hard enough to potentially hurt yourself. The only acceptable time to be that sore after a workout is when you’ve just worked a muscle group that you don’t normally work, and still then: you probably pushed too hard.
There are steps you can take to alleviate soreness both through physical awareness and dietary means. Knowing what ‘good’ movement is when you’re exercising means: good form, controlled actions, and knowing when to quit. Dieting right will give your body what it needs for good strong muscles and make sure the right kinds of nutrients are available to repair them when they need it.
What makes muscles sore?
The medical term for muscle soreness is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) in medical communities. Basically when you work hard enough to feel your muscles ‘burn’ they are being damaged by micro-tears that over the next few days will be repaired with any spare protein you’ve accumulated. You shouldn’t feel that for about eight hours. If you don’t feel that burn, you won’t grow new muscle and get stronger.
Some people think that stretching and ‘cool-down’ exercises can prevent muscle soreness, but that’s not true. It has no effect on it, because it isn’t caused by muscle contraction or the presence of lactic acid, so neither action should relieve pain unless you’re suffering from cramps. The reason people thought cool-down exercises worked was because it removes excess lactic acid from the muscles, and lactic acid was though to cause the muscle soreness. That has since been disproved though.
What can you do to prevent muscle soreness?
This is really tough to do, especially when you’re trying to bulk up. The first thing you can do is not challenge yourself. This is the easy way out. If you don’t challenge yourself, you won’t gain muscle, which may not be aligned very well with your overall goals. Then next best thing you can do is not push too hard, but challenge yourself enough to cause muscle growth.
There is no proven bullet-proof way to prevent it if you’re working yourself hard, especially when you’re starting a routine or working a new group of muscles. There is anectdotal evidence (not hard evidence) that warming up, gentle stretching, ice baths, and sports massages work. You can also try taking anti-inflammatory medicine. Remember not to work out while your muscles are sore. Give them time to recover.
What are your remedies?
Preventing and curing muscle soreness is elusive like hangover cures. Everyone has different methods that work for them and there isn’t a while lot of scientific data to back any one system up. What do you do?