It’s hard to think of a better feeling than when you’ve just finished a tough workout. You’re glistening with perspiration, the endorphins are pumping and best of all, it’s all over! Those good post-workout vibes are with you as you swagger out the door like Rihanna and if you’ve trained in the morning, they normally stick around all day. You roll out of bed the next day and although your muscles are slightly tight, it’s nothing unbearable. “I guess I got away with it this time!” you chuckle to yourself.
But the next morning, you immediately realise you spoke too soon. Depending on what type of workout you did, your back is as stiff as a board, your arms feel like lead or your thighs are sore that going to the bathroom feels like mission impossible. Whatever your affliction, there’s no question that the dreaded DOMS has arrived in full force.
Unfortunately, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is inevitable. It’s a natural product of eccentric muscular movement. Of course, training with less intensity would result in a less intense occurrence of DOMS but then you would not be gaining any of the benefits of muscle damage including increased protein synthesis and muscular hypertrophy.
-William Dawson, Personal Trainer
Basically, if you want to make progress in the gym, you’re not going to be able to do so without a bit of pain. Thankfully, there are a few natural ways you can alleviate the soreness so that you can go about your day as normal. We asked PT William Dawson to share his top tips:
Pink Himalayan rock salt can help with rehydration, by replacing electrolytes lost during sweating and helping with circulation to flush lactic acid from the body. Sprinkle some over your meals or add some to your water.
Foam rolling and myofascial release are two great forms of “self-therapy” for DOMS. Myofascial release is done by finding trigger points along the muscles and applying pressure, then relaxing the muscle to release any tension. These two techniques should become an integral part of your training regime.
The following stretches are great for reducing post workout muscle soreness:
Pigeon pose — This targets the deep glutes, hip flexors and groin. Your glutes are the biggest and most powerful muscles in your body and when they’re tight it can lead to other issues such as lower back pain.
Cat Cow – This targets spine stabilisers, back extensors and abdominals. Instead of stretching your head from side to side and tugging on the muscles at the base of your neck, I recommend performing a cat-cow stretch to loosen tension and improve mobility and flexibility from the base of the head to your mid back.
Plank walk out to Spiderman stretch — This is my ultimate total body stretch, as it targets calves, hamstrings, shoulders, hip flexors and groin. It improves hip , lower and upper body mobility and flexibility.
I find the best method of reducing muscle soreness is to continue to exercise in the following days. Movement improves circulation and blood flow which helps provide our muscles with what it needs to recover, but also helps to remove any waste products such a lactic acid! Some great forms of active recovery are doing some light cardio on the cross trainer or bike (especially after a big leg session) or yoga.
Adding glutamine (approximately 5 grams) to your intra (during) workout drink can help to prevent muscle soreness. Post workout nutrition is also essential, as the body has been pushed out of its comfort zone and the body is craving replenishment. I would recommend a quality source of protein that is fast to ingest such as whey protein isolate and a high GI carbohydrate. This cause an insulin spike, which will, in turn, lead to efficient uptake into the muscles of both carbs and protein.
Supplementing with a good omega-3 and anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and consuming magnesium pre and post workout can help the body cope with all the stress caused by exercise.
Warm water Epsom salt baths help to relax muscles and loosen stiff joints. The Epsom salts break down into magnesium and sulphate, which then gets into your body through your skin.