Do you find that you get muscle soreness right after a workout? Or do you feel uncomfortable for a few days after a workout? It happens to the best of us. Today I’m going to tell you some ways you can lessen the impact of muscle soreness you may feel after a hard workout.
When you try something new, push yourself a little bit too hard or forget to perform your warm-up and cool-down, chances are you are going to feel it the next day. Even professional athletes get muscle soreness every once in while, so don’t feel negative about it when it happens to you. Rest assured that it’s not necessarily because you’re unfit or out of shape that causes your muscles to get that heavy and sore feeling. It’s simply a normal part of the ‘getting fit’ process. Don’t get down about muscle soreness, let me help you try to lessen it. You should be smiling when you feel like your body has worked, because that means you’re doing a good job.
My reason for writing about this topic today is because my four amazing children ran in their first 5k race yesterday. This morning, they all woke up with muscle soreness! I ran with them too, and because my legs are used to running that distance I feel fine. I do admit that when I first started to run more than one mile, my thighs, glutes and calves would feel quite sore for a few days after.
As a former athlete, I know that muscle soreness is just a part of the training process. For people who are new to exercise, muscle soreness can be quite upsetting. I’ve seen this before: you finally get the motivation to start a new fitness routine, then wake up so sore the next day you want to quit. Don’t let muscle soreness stand in your way. Follow my tips to help you ease your way into a new routine and reduce as much muscle soreness as possible.
Excitement and motivation are good things, but be kind to your body and ease into a new fitness routine. Give your body a chance to gently adapt to new exercises. A good rule to follow when you’re going from the couch to moving is to keep your exercise intensity at a talking pace. Ensure that you can comfortably talk while moving. This is about a 40-60% effort. If you’re incredibly sore after your first session, tone down your workout.
Performing a warm-up is important for the same reasons as easing into a program. You must prepare your body for the movements you’re going to perform and ensure you’ve worked your joints through their full range of motion before pushing yourself. Starting your running session with dynamic stretches, a walk, or light jog will help your muscles from feeling too tight. Performing a good warm-up may also help to improve your performance on your run.
When your body gets dehydrated, it can make you prone to getting muscle cramps. Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day, and especially ensure that you sip fluids during and after your exercise routine. An electrolyte balanced drink can help you adequately re-hydrate after a training session and help reduce muscle cramps.
I really believe that a slow cool-down can help reduce muscle soreness. You should allow time to perform stretches, or at the very least just walk until you feel that your heart rate is back to normal and muscles are relaxed before you get on with your day.
My philosophy is: Why wait until your muscles are sore before using an ice pack? If you know you’ve pushed yourself too hard or haven’t exercised in a while, try using an ice pack for a few minutes on areas of your body that you know tend get sore. When I run my calves always get a little sore, so I make an effort to ice them. It certainly does the trick for me.
If you’re going to take part in a race or special event, you need to spend adequate time getting your body accustomed to the specific exercise. My kids performed a warm-up, cool-down and were hydrated, but I know that they weren’t prepared to run a 5k. They are very active and play multiple sports, but running this distance was new for them. On race day, excitement overtook common sense and they sprinted the entire way. If you plan on running a 5k and want less muscle soreness the next day, you should train for 4-5 weeks to build up and get the exact muscles ready for the big day.
I hope my tips help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness after your workouts, or at the very least make you smile because you now know that kids and professional athletes can be effected with it, too. You’re not alone. The last thing you want is for muscle soreness to stop you from continuing with your healthy active lifestyle goals.
Tonight I’ll do what my mom used to do for me when I was a young athlete. I’m going to rub my kids’ aching little legs, offer up some ice, provide lots of cuddles and make them walk the dogs with me. My final and best tip for easing fitness-induced muscle soreness is too get moving. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but getting your blood flowing will help to ease the aches.