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After a hard day or week of training, it’s common, even with proper technique, to build up a deep, unending soreness in the muscles. Soreness is a good thing, it means you worked a muscle or muscle group hard enough to feel it, but recovering isn’t always quick or easy. Here are a few great tips on how to minimize recovery time.
With most things in life, getting through the work is the hard part. You run a marathon, it’s 26.2 miles that hurt. You put in a 12-hour work day at the factory and you’re so relieved to get off work. You spend all night studying for an exam, then you can celebrate and unwind.
When it comes to training with weights, however, the opposite is true. You have a hard workout, to be sure. But that’s not when you build up the muscle. Rather, it is during the recovery period following the workout – lasting 48-96 hours – that the actual muscle growth takes place. It is also during this phase when food intake is most important for growth and the pain you feel is going to be the worst.
You are limping after a tough leg day, there’s no doubt about that right? You’ve undoubtedly spent the last hour or so suffering through 15 or 20 sets of squats, leg presses, hack squats, lunges and other movements that pushed you to the limits to the absolute pain threshold. However, the single hour of pain is only going to open the doors to the few days of pain you will feel, the likes of which you will have a very difficult time explaining to the non-lifters of the world.
DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness, is the sensation that arrives in the 1-2 days following a tough workout. It is a sort of slow and creeping pain that peaks at 48 hours after a training session. A stiffness that you awake with in the morning and a nagging pain that lasts the whole day through. You become more flexible and used to the sensation as the day passes, but the moment you lay down, you’re woken up to the pain all over once it is time to stand once again.
DOMS is the reward for your hard work, but it is also a curse with which the lifter must learn to accept and deal with.
Stretching, after warming up, before your workout is a good idea, as long as you keep it to a minimum. You don’t want to break up the structural integrity of the muscle group, as you will need a bit of tightness to move the heavy weight. Following the workout, plenty of stretching is a great idea. You can help to break up the lactic acid and flush out the area, as well as give the muscle fiber the ultimate in blood saturation. Many trainees feel that good stretching is the key to allowing a muscle to grow to its maximum size and strength. Allowing the muscle fascia to expand to its full potential in all directions, and the muscle fibers will reach their absolute limits as well.
You should never just limit your stretching to post workout. You should be stretching the trained muscle groups several times over the 2-3 days post training of that group. Massage of the area for a few minutes also breaks up the toxins that have built up from the tough workout as well as the garbage that piles up in the days following the training session. If it is sore, massaging will help to limit cramping, which can be beyond painful.
In terms of nutrition, the macronutrient protein is the key. Protein foods deliver amino acids to the blood stream. They are the building blocks of new muscle, and an imperative part of the process of gaining size and strength. They also will help you to be less sore for less time.
Most trainees enjoy a quick protein shake with water in 5 – 10 minutes post training session to bring amino acids into the bloodstream to get the muscle fibers recovering as fast as possible. You should also be drinking plenty of water (gallon per day) to flush the toxins. Ice on the trained area along with ibuprofen work very well to calm the inflammation in the muscle group(s) as well.
Beau Arney is the owner of Mass Appeal Personal Performance Training, a personal training/fitness program design business in Carrollton. Questions or to request for training or program design, contact Beau at (502) 645-9560 or via Facebook at Mappt Beau Arney.