5 tips and tricks to soothe sore muscles
It happens to the best of us. After a long break from sports we decide it’s time to hit the gym again. Hard. You’ll write down your weekly training plan taking tips and ideas from CrossFit champions and bodybuilding experts, safe in the knowledge that if you stick to this strict training regime you’ll have the beach body of your dreams within weeks.
So you hit the gym, fully motivated, sweating like you’ve never sweat before and lifting as much as you possibly can. By the end of the workout you feel totally exhausted but exhilarated – ready to commit to getting into shape and excited to get back on it tomorrow.
But your muscles have other ideas. The next morning you wake up and it feels like you ran a marathon during the night and then got expertly beaten up by secret police. You can move your eyes, but everything else hurts. You try and sit up once and then resolve never to sit up again. You flop back on the pillow and groan. It’s going to take days for your muscles to feel restored again. All your plans to hit the gym have been ruined!
But it doesn’t have to be this way. It might feel like you’ll never be able to move again, but the reality is there are several ways you can soothe and restore your strained muscles so you can get back in the gym and on track with your training programme fast.
Just remember – when you first get back into training, rest days are crucial as they allow your body time to recover.
1. Drink tons of water
The reason your muscles hurt after a workout is because of tiny tears in the fibres of your muscle tissue. After a long break from exercise, your muscles aren’t used to the additional strain and will tear very slightly during your strength training. Don’t be alarmed – it’s just your muscles getting used to the extra load, and it means the muscle fibres will grow back stronger than before so you’ll be able to lift longer and heavier next time.
You probably drank a lot of water before and during your workout, but did you remember to drink a lot afterwards? When you’re experiencing sore muscles, water helps flush out all those toxins and keeps you hydrated which allows your body to concentrate on repairing those tears, so you can be ready for your next gym session. Experts recommend drinking between 3 and 4 litres per day for ultimate hydration.
2. Eat protein
Protein is a key element to rebuilding muscle. Protein contains certain macronutrients that help strengthen the muscle fibre that’s been torn during your workout which helps heal and rebuild the damaged tissue. Athletes should be eating a consistent, protein-rich diet as this helps prevent tissue-damage in the first place.
But if the damage is already done, then add a cup of protein powder to your morning smoothie, eat a few eggs at lunch and a chicken breast at dinner. This will get your muscles repaired in no time, so you can say hello to your old friend The Barbell again.
3. Heat and/or ice it
If you need instant pain relief then you can try either heat therapy or cold therapy. There’s a lot of debate over which works best, however both have their benefits. Cold packs, which you place in the freezer and apply to the sensitive area, help reduce swelling and inflammation which will relieve tension and help your muscles heal quicker.
Applying a heat pack to the sensitive area has a similar effect as having a warm, relaxing bath. It softens the muscles, reduces tension and improves circulation which accelerates the healing process. Both of these techniques will give your battered muscles a little love, so you can get through the post-workout pain.
4. Roll it out
Doctors, physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors all say the same thing: rolling your muscles out is the single best way to repair them. We recommend ordering your own foam rolling kit, so you can tend to your muscles at home as often as you like. The kit will consist of foam tubes of varying sizes and small balls for the hard-to-reach areas.
You lie on the floor or lean against the wall and roll your muscles over the equipment, using your bodyweight to add pressure. Regular foam rolling will relieve muscle soreness, improve flexibility and increase your range of motion.
Warning: after a heavy training session, this is seriously going to hurt. But in a good way.
5. Get a massage
If you’re feeling particularly indulgent and/or sorry for yourself, then a massage will help loosen those tight muscles and repair the tiny fibre-tears that are causing you pain. Kneading muscles also helps prevent inflammation and boosts recovery time.
Luckily, Urban Sports Club has hundreds of massage partners across Europe, so you can check-in to your local masseuse and enjoy a little time for yourself before getting back into that training plan.
If you’re keen to discover the wonderful world of Urban Sports Club, take a look at our website and find out what fantastic sports and wellness offers are available in your area!