Waking up the morning after an intense workout is for some a sign of a good session. You put enough work which is required to build yourself stronger, leaner and fitter. However, there is a big distinction between a few aches and pains and actual injury, the latter of which should be avoided at all costs — primarily by understanding your own limits in the gym and setting yourself manageable goals.
We need to be able to listen to our body, since lactic acid aches might be a message to slow down, or a warning from your body to your ego that you are pushing too much. A tired, damaged muscle is at far more risk of tearing compared, and can be alleviated by beginning your workout with a good warm-up.
So, how do we prevent those muscles from getting sore in the first place? There are a few methods which you should have on your mind in advance. Let's look at a few.
Eat enough protein
Recovering from training will require your body to build muscle tissue and this needs enough nutrients and in specific protein. No need to over do it but try to have some protein with every meal. 1gr per kilo of body weight is a good daily target. Prefer meat where possible.
Monitor your eating window
After training your body will very insulin sensitive and will prone to absorb nutrients. Try having your meal close to your training, around 1 hour afterwards. If you practice intermittent fasting monitor your performance in relation to your eating window. Do you have less/more energy if your train in a fasted state?
Warm Up Properly
It can be very tempting, particularly with our tight schedules nowadays, to overlook the necessary warm-up routines that we should all do before any type of mildly physical activity. A proper full-body warm-up (stretches, cardio etc.) increases your body temperature in preparation for the shock your body will go through with a full workout.
Be Adequately Hydrated
Your muscle pain will increase if you do not have sufficient electrolytes in your system, so it is recommended by health professionals to ingest easily digestible drinks which won’t cause an upset stomach. Protein shakes, often the go-to post workout supplement for many of us, isn’t ideal in this scenario as the protein can play havoc with your stomach, so something non-offensive like the various sports drinks you find in your local corner store is best.
Ice packs and cold showers
Keep an ice pack ready to go in your freezer for those times when your body is telling you that you may have over-extended yourself in the gym. Direct, prolonged application can significantly reduce inflammation as well as dulling any mild plain which may arrive. Also consider taking some cold showers for a couple of minutes which have many great benefits.
Do light Cardio in your off days
A light cardio increases blood flow around the body, aiding the delivery of protein, nutrients, oxygen and iron around your system which will help you recover quicker. In addition to that, as blood leaves your muscles it takes with it some of the toxins (carbon dioxide, lactic acid) which are produced by your metabolism which can often lead to delayed onset muscle soreness. Try jogging or doing an easy variation of the exercises where you have muscle soreness.
- Listen to your body and focus on recovery after every session