Whether you’re a regular gym-goer or can count your visits on one hand, chances are you’ve probably experienced DOMS – that’s Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – aka the hellish aching and pains you get after a tough workout.
It’s worth noting that not everyone gets DOMS, and some get it worse than others (hello, not being able to tackle stairs after a heavy squat session the day before). So don’t sweat too much if you’ve been lunging your heart out but are still able to walk the next day; it doesn’t mean you aren’t pushing yourself.
But if you do get sore after your workouts, there are a few tried and tested remedies that can help ease the pain. Personal Trainer at Reach Fitness and former professional rugby player Ollie Frost explains:
1. Eat cherries
Cherries contain anthocyanins which will combat free radicals that are produced in the body following exercise, acting as an inflammatory agent for the body. Cherries will increase oxygen flow to your muscles negating potential DOMS. Grab a small handful a day pre workout, also counting to one of your five a day.
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2. Try to sleep like a baby
A single night of sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone which can delay recovery after a workout. Happily, exercise promotes good sleep, but to improve sleep quality further turn of all technology two hours before bed, as smart phones and tablets produce something called ‘the blue light’ which suppresses melatonin (the sleep hormone).
3. Make sure you’re getting micronutrients in.
Necking protein shakes or bars after the gym? That’s fine, but make sure you are getting a range of protein from other sources, too. Processed protein products, in particular isolated protein supplements, lack vital nutrients which occur in foods that naturally contain protein. Natural protein sources such as peanuts for example, also contain Vitamins B3, B6 and B7, while salmon contains omega-3, and yoghurt contains calcium. Of course, protein supplements are more convenient, but taking your time to choose natural protein sources will boost recovery due to the overall nutritional profile of the meal and the additional health properties.
4. Eat magnesium-rich foods
The body utilises magnesium for muscle contractions. Including foods in your diet such as dark leafy greens, peanuts, yoghurt and bananas will help reduce lactic acid build-up which is a bi-product from strenuous exercise and intense workouts. Reducing lactic acid build-up results in your body recovering a lot quicker, meaning that you won’t be in a world of pain after a workout.
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5. Work on your mobility
In order to reduce recovery time following a workout, make sure you’re doing more than just passive stretching. We are born with full range of motion but as we get older, due to inactivity and lifestyle, this range of movement decreases. Focus on each joint of your body working the full range of motion, and spending concentrated time on each. Having an increased range of movement will improve movement efficiency and help prevent injury, while at the same time boosting workout recovery times. A foam roller is a great way to loosen up tight muscles.
6. Take a cold bath
Take the plunge and run a cold bath. The cold therapy will help repair muscle tissue tears from intensive or repetitive workouts. The cold water constricts blood vessels, helping promote the removal of waste products (such as lactic acid) in the body and help reduce muscle soreness as a result. Too intense? Try a warm bath with epsom or magnesium bath salts – you can pick them up cheaply from Boots.
7. Eat Curcumin
Curcumin is a chemical found in Turmeric that helps alleviate joint pain and increase recovery time due to having a large amount of anti-inflammatory properties. It has been scientifically proven that turmeric is as powerful as most anti-inflammatory prescription medications. Take turmeric before a workout to help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue; you can easily add it to recipes for a spicy kick.
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8. Pay attention to hydration
The correct fluid intake will prevent injury and ensure your workout is optimal. Dehydration can lead to cramping and dizziness pre- and post-workout, as well as slowing down the removal of lactic acid – which, as we now know, means you’ll be more sore the next day. To replenish electrolytes and sodium lost during exercise drink around 1.5-2 litres throughout the day and post-workout to avoid dehydration.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK