You killed your workout yesterday. Today, you can barely move. Is there any way you can prevent this?
You'll be happy to know, scientists have been looking for an answer to that same question. They've come up with a variety of answers from dietary solutions to the classics like ice and compression. There are some pretty wacky methods out there. But how do you cut through the noise? What really works when it comes to avoiding that ache that sets in after a workout? Here are 10 mistakes
you may be making that are setting you up for a world of pain.
Mistake #1: You're still icing regularly.
We all know RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. You can drop the "I." Gabe Mirkin, the MD who coined the term in 1978 says, "cooling diminishes inflammation, but in doing so it interferes with muscle repair that helps you build more lean mass and become stronger." If you are in a lot of pain, icing can still diminish some of it and it only delays healing for about half a day so you may decide it is still worth it.
Mistake #2: You pop pain relievers like candy.
Mirkin says that ibuprofen, like ice, delays healing. In fact, it delays the process by 6-8 hours by blocking inflammation. He recommends taking it only if you are really sore.
Mistake #3: You're still not foam rolling.
Researchers at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada have done 4 studies using a foam roller after exercise and have found that doing so not only increases range of motion in the joints but also reduces muscle soreness and speeds muscle recovery. The best way to use a foam roller is to sit or lie on it so it's positioned underneath the muscle you want to target, allowing the weight of your body to apply the pressure for 30 to 60 seconds.
Mistake #4: You're missing the big squeeze.
Compression works well, according to Mirkin, because it minimizes swelling and fluid build up that can delay healing. Consider wearing compression garments during or after your workout.
Mistake #5: You still need to warm up to warming up.
A study published a couple of years ago in The Journal of Human Kinetics
had 36 untrained people do a series of lunges while holding barbells. Some warmed up on a stationary bike before hand, others didn't warm up but cooled down doing the same stationary bike routine and a third group did the lunges with no warm up or cool down. The next day, the people who did the warm up reported the least amount of pain. This could be because warming up slowly reduces the likelihood of over taxing or pulling the muscles.
Mistake #6: You're not refueling fast enough.
Exercise breaks down muscle and you need to start rebuilding it right away. The best way? Within a half hour of your workout, have a protein/carb snack. Protein contains amino acids, the building blocks of muscle, while carbs will give you the energy for the repair process. Any lean sources, like a few ounces of chicken or egg whites or Greek yogurt, will work, along with whole wheat bread or fruit. Chocolate milk is another option to consider.
Mistake #7: You keep forgetting that water is key.
Dehydration is a big contributor to post workout fatigue. To prevent it, drink 16-20 ounces of water 4 hours before exercise and another 8-12 ounces about 10 mins before. If you are exercising for less than an hour, drink 3-8 ounces of water every 15-20 mins. After your workout, check the colour of your urine to see if you need to have more. If it is dark, the answer is yes.
Mistake #8: You're all about chicken.
If your workouts are leaving you sore, try refueling with fish. In a recent study, participants taking a daily 400mg fish oil supplement (about the same amount as a 1.5 ounce serving of salmon) reported less muscle soreness and tenderness than those who were taking a placebo.
Mistake #9: You head straight to the couch.
I know how inviting the sofa looks after a workout but going for a walk or a light cruise on your bike later in the day, or even the next day, may be the perfect thing for you. Both activities promote circulation and transport healing nutrients into the muscles.
Mistake #10: You over do it on the cocktails.
One or two drinks probably won't hurt you. However, Australian researchers have found that heavy drinking (6 screwdrivers in 3 hours) decreased muscle protein synthesis by 37%, leaving your muscles unable to rebuild and repair as effectively. Keep this in mind if you follow your workouts with a night on the town.
How do you prevent (or ease) your muscle soreness? We'd love to hear from you.