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Ways to Alleviate Muscle Soreness

by Faith

It’s a common misconception that muscles soreness is strictly from lactic acid. Lactic acid only remains in the muscles for a few hours and definitely not more than a day. So why do you feel muscle soreness the next day, the day after that, and maybe still the day after that?

Delayed muscle onset soreness (DOMS) is the real culprit of your tender muscles days following your workout. An intense workout, can lead to microscopic muscle tears. The body sends nutrients and other fluids to those muscles to repair them. This can cause inflammation and lead the muscles to be sore 2-5 days after a workout, depending on the intensity of the workout. This is completely normal. The healing process is what actually causes muscles to grow and get stronger, not the workout itself. So, how do you deal with DOMS?

There are a few ways to alleviate the soreness brought on by DOMS. These methods can keep you active during times of extreme soreness without letting it hold you back.

Massage– a great way to alleviate the symptoms of DOMS. The pressure and strokes can help move those fluids out of the muscles, resulting in decreased soreness and inflammation. It is great for those who have a massage therapist or are able to self-massage the areas of sore muscles. Tip for self-massage: Massage towards the heart to help push blood and fluids toward the heart…not away!  

Foam roll– a form of self-massage that can help you flush out areas you might not be able to massage on your own. By using your body weight on the roller and rolling out the muscles, blood flow will be increased and will help to push fluids out of those sore muscles. Furthermore, releasing tight points in the muscle’s fascia (called “Myofascial release”) can allow better blood flow through areas that were restricted, improving overall circulation.

Light cardio and stretching –another tactic to loosen up your muscles and get your blood flowing. A form of light cardio (walking, biking, rowing, etc.) followed by stretching can do wonders. This can be your workout for the day if you are still sore during or after the cardio and stretching, or it may allow you to loosen up enough to move on to a more intense workout, depending on levels of soreness.

Rest those muscles – a crucial part of recovery when needed. Rest days are important. Depending on regular intensity of exercise, 1-3 rest days per week may be needed. However, don’t let sore muscles make you take unplanned rest days. If your lower body is sore, do an upper body workout, and vice versa. If you are sore from strength training, take a yoga class. There are plenty of forms of exercise to stay active amid soreness.

There is always something you can do to get moving without letting soreness hold you back. At the end of the day, moving and staying active instead of sitting around will only help you recover from muscle soreness faster. Take these options into consideration the next time you experience DOMS to help you recover faster and move better! 

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