Last Updated on October 28, 2021 by Andrew Blakey
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After Workout Sore Muscles?
Are you experiencing after workout sore muscles? If you haven’t gone through this before or even if you have, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about why this occurs and what you can do to best handle these symptoms. We’ll also touch on the differences between muscle soreness versus muscle pain and when you should get it checked out. Let’s get into it!
Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Have you ever heard someone mention the term DOMS? Well, DOMS stands for the “delayed onset of muscle soreness” and it’s an extremely common experience in the fitness and exercise community. Delayed onset muscle soreness is extremely common and a normal side effect with getting involved in exercise.
Perhaps you’re finding it tough to do everyday activities such as walk the dog, play with the kids, go to work, or even sit on the toilet. Well, let me ease your mind a bit and let you know that it will go away.
What Causes DOMS?
Without getting to nerdy on you, delayed onset of muscle soreness occurs when we create extremely small tears in our muscle fibres. You’re probably thinking “Tears?! That’s terrible (pun intended)”. Let me assure you, it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds.
These small tears in our muscle fibres are what allows our muscles to become stronger. When our body heals these tears, our muscles actually become stronger because of it allowing them to lift more weight, and increase their size (assuming you’re following a proper diet and giving them enough rest).
So how long will these after workout sore muscles last you may ask?
How Long Will These After Workout Sore Muscles Last?
Fear not, in most cases the worst symptoms will occur between 24-48 hours after your workout. From there the symptoms continue to subside and soon enough, you’ll be back and ready for your next workout! Most symptoms are completely gone after around 4-5 days.
As you progress and continue to expose yourself to these workouts, your body will heal faster and eventually you may only notice very minimal soreness after your workouts. Beginners and those working out muscles that they don’t normally work, will experience DOMS and after workout sore muscles more significantly.
What can you do to help recover more quickly? What can you do to help your body during your recovery phase? Read below to find out.
8 Things You Can Do To Help Recover From After Workout Muscle Soreness
Ensure You Give Your Muscles A Rest
When you’re motivated and wanting to put in the work to achieve your fitness goals, it can be easy to push too hard and forget to rest. Forgetting to give your body proper rest is a recipe for disaster that can result in injuries, burnout, and increase the chances of being sore after workouts.
One of the best things you can do when it comes to working towards a fitness goal is to learn to listen to your body. This means learning to listen to little things that your body is telling you such as when it’s tired, when certain muscles are tight and need stretched, when you can push a little harder, and when it needs a complete break.
If you can learn to really listen to your body and make changes to your workout or routine to act on these signs; your body is going to work with you rather than against you. This is one of the most critical pieces when it comes to helping recover from those after workout sore muscles.
Perhaps you’ve heard me talk about foam rolling in a previous article, here’s a great article on how to foam roll your lower body to help with that after workout muscle soreness.
Foam rolling is something that almost anyone can benefit from. Foam rolling is great because it does all sorts of things ranging from breaking up tight muscle adhesion’s (probably), and promotes blood flow to an area which we know can speed up healing and reduce that muscle soreness.
Here is another great article about 8 moves you can do with a foam roller.
Static stretching, what’s that?
Static stretching basically refers to the process of stretching in a still position. This is compared to something like dynamic stretching in which we are moving our muscles through their range of motion. Think of moves like controlled arm circles, and high knees as a form of dynamic stretching.
Static stretching is a great method to deal with after workout sore muscles because it can accomplish the following:
- Increased blood flow (which promotes healing)
- Increased range and flexibility
- Help with stress reduction
- Increase mental well being
Heat Therapy (Yay For Hot Tubs)
While inducing heat in the muscle via hot tubs won’t help with inflammation and could actually do the opposite, heat therapy can also have the impact of relaxing our blood vessels allowing more blood to the area (which promotes healing).
A study conducted in 2006 came to the conclusion that heat therapy can reduce pain by up to 47%
For full transparency, the study above used a method of heat wraps rather than a hot tub however, with water being a greater influence in body temperature control it’s my opinion that similar conclusions could be drawn.
Use this tip with a grain of salt. If you find that heat helps with muscle soreness than continue doing so. If you find things get worse, then avoid it and draw your own conclusions.
Go For A Massage
Yes, here is your free pass to go treat yourself! Massages can help to alleviate pain, increase flexibility, and help with muscle recovery.
Massages are a great way to allow yourself to relax while also helping you deal with the after workout sore muscles! Massage helps in a similar way to the methods listed above. It can help by improving blood flow, improving muscle movement and function, and decrease the severity of pain.
Give yourself a treat and let me know if it helps those stubborn after workout sore muscles! Here are a couple other benefits to getting massages!
Get Moving With Moderate Level Cardio
This may sound counter intuitive after suggesting you rest earlier in the article, however, studies have shown that doing moderate level cardio can help to relieve the pain associated with after workout sore muscles.
So what is moderate level cardio? Well, in the study they had the moderate level cardio group working at 70% of their age predicted heart rate reserve.
Generally moderate is classified as between 50-70%
To find your 50-70% of heart rate reserve do the following:
Step 1: Find your max heart rate (220-your age)
For example a 40 year olds max heart rate would be 180 beats per minute because 220 minus 40 is 180.
Step 2: Find your resting heart rate
To do this simply sit in a relaxed position for a couple of minutes and set a timer for 60 seconds, count your pulse on your wrist and find out how many beats per minute resting you have.
Step 3: Subtract your resting heart rate from your heart rate max and multiple by .5 or .7
40 year old with resting heart rate of 60 bpm
160 – 60 = 100
Now multiple by .7 = 70
Step 4: Add your resting HR to this number
70+60 = 130 bpm.
This means that for a 40 year old, 70% of their heart rate reserve would be 130 bpm.
Proper Warm-up and Cooldowns
When we do our workout most of us just want to jump into and start am I right?
Don’t neglect the warm-up and cool-down portions of your workout! I cannot stress this enough! Warming up properly and doing an effective cool-down are two things you can do to help with your after workout sore muscles.
By doing a proper warm-up, you’re going to not only increase the blood flow to your muscles but you’re also going to drastically decrease your chances of injuries. Much like an elastic band, if you pull and stress on your muscles while they’re cold you’re asking for trouble!
Cool downs on the other hand are going to allow you to slowly lower your heart rate back to normal levels without the vast drop that comes from stopping your workout and then going immediately home. As we’ve preached throughout this entire article, doing a cool down is going to promote blood flow to your muscles and stretch out those muscle fibres you’ve just worked so hard on!
Refuel Your Body
We all know how important nutrition is when it comes to your fitness goals.
By refuelling with proper nutrition meaning enough calories, proteins, and other vitamins and minerals associated with healthy eating – you allow your body to have the nutritional supplies it needs to properly heal those sore after workout sore muscles.
For more information regarding nutrition following your workout, check out this article.
I’ve personally worked with a dietitian to help master my diet and I encourage others to do the same at some point. However, if meeting with a dietitian isn’t currently in your budget, do your research and really learn about how food affects your body and your recovery!