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How to Deal with Muscle Soreness After Exercise

Ever crush a workout, feeling like a total gym boss, only to wake up the next day feeling like you got hit by a truck?  That is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) for you. It is  the not-so-fun side effect of pushing your muscles to new limits.  It is that achy, stiff feeling that can make even simple movements, like climbing stairs, a challenge. But do not worry, our fellow fitness warriors!  DOMS is a normal part of the muscle-building process, and there are ways to soothe the ache and get you back on track to conquering your next workout.

The Stages of Muscle Soreness

DOMS is not a constant ache, but more like a bad thing with a specific agenda.

  • Onset

You might not feel it right after your workout, but within 12-24 hours, the soreness starts creeping in. 

  • Peak

Brace yourself, because things can get a little rough around day 2 or 3. This is when the soreness reaches its peak. 

  • Resolution

Over the next few days, the soreness gradually fades as your muscles repair and grow stronger. 

Strategies to Soothe Sore Muscles

Conquering a tough workout feels amazing, but that victory dance might be cut short by the dreaded muscle soreness. Here is how to turn down the volume on the aches and get back to feeling like your awesome self:

  1. Cooling Down Properly

Do not just stop after your last rep and walk away like a champ. A cool-down routine helps your body gradually return to its resting state. Spend 10-15 minutes doing some light cardio like walking or jogging on the spot. This helps flush lactic acid, a waste product that contributes to soreness, out of your muscles. Then, ease into some static stretches. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, focusing on major muscle groups that worked hard during your workout.

  1. Hydration is important

Just like a wilted flower needs water to wake up, your muscles need proper hydration to recover.  Dehydration can worsen muscle soreness, so make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workout. Aim for water or low sugar drinks. 

  1. Need more Protein

To rebuild those tiny tears and prevent excessive soreness, you need to provide the protein. Aim to consume 20-30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. Here are some delicious post workout protein foods to consider: Greek yoghurt, eggs, protein smoothie, chicken breast etc. 

  1. Rest and recovery

Your muscles do not grow stronger during your workout, they grow stronger during rest and recovery.  Do not be afraid to schedule rest days into your workout routine. This allows your muscles time to repair and rebuild, preventing excessive soreness and potential injuries. 

  1. Active Recovery

While intense exercise might not be your best friend when you are sore, some gentle movement can actually be beneficial.  Activities like walking, yoga, or light swimming can help improve blood flow, reduce stiffness, and promote healing. 

  1. Pain Relief Options

Medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help temporarily manage muscle soreness. It is important to consult your doctor before using any medication, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

  1. Self-Massage and Stretching

Grab a foam roller or a massage ball and become your own muscle therapist!  Self-massage with these tools can help improve blood flow, reduce muscle tension, and ease soreness.  Gently roll over sore areas for a few minutes. 

Do not avoid stretching entirely just because you are sore. Gentle static stretches can actually help improve flexibility and range of motion, which can in turn reduce muscle tightness and discomfort. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and focus on your breath.

  1. Hot and Cold Therapy

Alternating hot and cold therapy can be good. Apply a hot compress to a sore area for 15-20 minutes to improve blood flow and ease stiffness. Then, follow it up with a cold compress for 10-15 minutes to reduce inflammation. 

Remember these things too. 

  • Do not  just jump straight into your workout. Dedicate 10-15 minutes to a proper warm-up routine. This could include light cardio like jogging or jumping jacks, followed by dynamic stretches. 
  • Do not push yourself to the point of exhaustion, especially when you are starting a new exercise routine. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.

Muscle soreness is a natural part of the muscle-building process. Use the information in this guide, you can minimise discomfort and bounce back from your workouts feeling stronger and more energised. 

 Do not let a little soreness derail your fitness journey. Places like Nitro Gym in DSO or Nitro Gym in Al Barsha offer a supportive environment and knowledgeable staff to help your workouts and achieve your goals. Take this as a challenge and do your best. 

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