We’ve all been there. Just when we start to get into a groove with our workout routine our body throws us a curveball. It’s important to listen to your body and pace yourself to prevent injury. However, there is much you can do to lessen the time it takes for your body to recover from a strenuous exercise session.
Why Do My Muscles Get Sore?
When beginning a new workout routine you may notice the day after you exercise your muscles are extremely sore, swollen and tender. You may not even be able to move that area of the body in a smooth motion without feeling discomfort. Eccentric moves, where you contract and lengthen a muscle at the same time, are the main culprits for soreness, but it can happen after any workout session that is particularly taxing. Eccentric moves generally involve a downward motion such as lowering your arms during a push up or bicep curl, or walking downhill.
Muscle soreness is a physical phenomenon that scientists still don't completely understand. However, we do know that for the vast majority of the time, if you were to take a microscope to your muscle fibers while they are feeling fatigued and sore, in most cases you would see small tears throughout. As the body repairs these micro-tears the muscles become stronger. Although the exact mechanism of what causes muscle damage and the sensation of pain is still being debated, everyone can agree on one fact– muscle soreness is not fun at all. On the positive side, there is promising research showing there is much we can do to shorten or prevent those nagging bouts of muscle aches.
Can Infrared and Red LED Light Therapy Help Workout Recovery?
It might seem too good to be true, but light emitting diode therapy may help alleviate soreness and pain after your workout. Infrared and red LED light wavelengths can penetrate into the muscle fiber cells and speed up the wound healing process. One study showed that light emitting diode therapy reduced inflammation markers and lessened pain after exercise. There are many red light therapy panels on the market and gyms are now incorporating LED equipment into their facilities. As long as the panels utilize a wavelength of at least 610 nm for red light and at least 820 nm for near-infrared light it will have sufficient depth to affect the body’s musculature.
Will Cold Temperature Help Sore Muscles After Exercise?
Athletes often jump in ice-filled baths right after the game with the goal of heading off muscle soreness. Cold temperature is the go-to remedy for acute swelling and pain no matter what the cause. With that in mind, researchers have tried to determine specific evidence that cold temperatures can lessen or prevent muscle soreness altogether. A recent study demonstrated that immersion in cold baths for a span of 11-15 minutes reduced the feeling of soreness in the muscles. Cryotherapy is basically your cold bath 2.0. Instead of jumping into slushy ice water, you stand in a chamber while your body is blasted with cold air as low as -222 degrees Fahrenheit. Most studies show that cryotherapy is not more effective than cold water immersion for muscle soreness, but it has other potential health benefits that make it an attractive therapy.
Hydration and Muscle Fatigue
Keep your water bottle handy during your workout. One study showed that drinking water before, during and after a workout significantly decreased the feeling of muscle soreness. On the other hand, participants that were dehydrated before exercising had greater levels of muscle fatigue and soreness. Don’t skimp on the water even if you don’t feel very thirsty. This is especially vital if you are exercising in humid or hot temperatures which can sap your hydration levels much more quickly.
Foods That Help Muscle Soreness
Foods that are rich in antioxidants may help your body to recover more quickly. Brightly colored vegetables and fruits are high in flavonoids, polyphenols, anthocyanins and other plant compounds which reduce inflammation. Foods rich in processed sugar actually create a more inflammatory environment within the body, so steer clear of high sugar treats when dealing with intense muscle fatigue.
Supplements for Workout Recovery
Supplements that can have antioxidant properties may help you bounce back from your workout.* Turmeric has been valued for its curcuminoids which are potent antioxidants. One study found that turmeric decreased amounts of creatine kinase and pro-inflammatory cytokines found in the body.* In other words, it lessened muscle stiffness by reducing inflammation.* You can find turmeric along with joint support ingredients* like collagen and hyaluronic acid in Nature’s Lab Gold Turmeric + Joint Complex.
Vitamin C is a well known antioxidant that is often added to many fortified foods. Nature’s Lab Super Vitamin C 1000 mg ups the antioxidant power of this vitamin along with citrus bioflavonoids and quercetin.* Together these three ingredients provide greater antioxidant activity than either component alone.*
L.Plantarum probiotics have been studied to ascertain whether they can reduce the effect of muscle soreness after strenuous exercise. One study examined the use of L.Plantarum probiotics in participants that ran a half marathon. The researchers found these beneficial bacteria greatly reduced oxidative stress and inflammation from exercise.* This particular strain of probiotics can be found in Nature’s Lab Cardio Probiotics.
Tart cherry was studied for its impact on muscle soreness in several trials.* Nature’s Lab Tart Cherry 500 mg is a convenient way to get the antioxidant compounds of cherries, polyphenols, without the added sugar and calories.
Recover From Your Workout Like a Pro
Take a day off after a weight lifting or strength training session. If you are still feeling the burn two days later, a light workout is better than a complete rest day. You can take a leisurely walk or perhaps try out a beginner’s level yoga or pilates session. Swimming is an ideal activity because the water takes pressure off the joints and soothes the ache of the muscles. Taking a cold bath is also a relaxing and simple therapy for your stiff muscles.
Of course, adding in a few inflammation fighting supplements and healthy food choices will go a long way toward helping you recover from your workout and getting back into beast mode. Nature’s Lab has many fitness-enhancing supplements to help you be your best self.