No pain, no gain. If you’re working hard enough muscle pain is inevitable, and its a sure sign of progress…unless you’re just injured. However there are some things that we can do to make it that little bit more comfortable.
But first it’s important to know what causes muscle soreness in the first place. Check it out:
What are DOMS?
DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This usually occurs between 24 – 48 hours after strenuous exercise (Can sometimes occur much later).
This happens because during strenuous exercise our muscles experience little micro tears in the muscle fibres. Its good news though, as these torn muscle fibres rebuild bigger and stronger.
Now that you know where your muscle pain comes from, here are 5 ways to help relieve muscle pain:
Stretching – It is well-known that stretching properly after a workout releases the build up of lactic acid, resulting in reduced muscle pain and faster recovery. Although we’ve already established that if you’re training hard enough the pain is inevitable… but that’s okay!
When our muscles are in recovery mode they tend to tighten up; a little bit of light stretching will help loosen them up to diffuse the pain and promote faster recovery. Don’t get me wrong if you have severe DOMS stretching may hurt a little, but it works. (Push through the pain!!)
Ice – there’s a reason they tell you to put ice on it when you hurt yourself, it’s because it reduces the swelling. Well the same principle applies here, (Kind of…) the theory is that the ice combats the micro tears caused during training; constricting the blood flow flushes out the waste products, reduces swelling, and tissue breakdown. If you’re sore all over you should try an ice bath! If you’re brave enough.
Hot/Cold treatment – Studies have shown that alternating between hot and cold stimulates both blood circulation and muscle recovery. How do I do it? Just alternate between an ice pack and heat pack every 15 minutes for as long as you feel you need it. (If you don’t have a heat pack, don’t sweat it. You can just jump in the shower and change the temperature from one extreme to another. Have fun!)
Soak in a hot bath – So this is definitely the most pleasant one, and you’re probably already doing it without knowing all the benefits. Similar to a massage (which is my next point) the hot water loosens up the muscles to promote circulation, this leads to more oxygen reaching the muscles and therefore a greater supply of nutrients to aid recovery. All you have to do is jump in the bath.
Light massage – no you don’t need a professional sports massage… Instead you can easily massage the affected area yourself (Unless you can’t reach it, in that case just use a roller), similar to the effect of a hot bath the movement from the massage circulates the blood around the muscles, promoting increased oxygen and nutrient delivery to the effected area. This leads to a faster and less painful recovery.
In conclusion, muscle pain is an unfortunate side effect of training hard to achieve the results you want. To help us recover quickly, and be able to train again as soon as possible, giving some of these methods a try will help you push through the pain!