When treating an overworked muscle, it’s important to understand why our muscles hurt in the first place. Post-workout muscle soreness is a signal that you have caused damage to muscle tissue. When this damage, or micro-tear, occurs, your body begins the process of repair, causing inflammation at the damaged area. Fluid builds up in the muscles, putting extra pressure on the damaged areas, leading to the familiar feeling of tightness and pain that usually starts 12 to 24 hours after a workout. We certainly want to minimise inflammation in our daily lives — but some level of inflammation can be an important signal for muscle growth and repair. If you help your muscles recover from soreness, they are more likely to grow bigger and stronger again. And you may want the pain to go away so you can move again and live without pain. Here are some top tips to reduce and overcome overworked muscles:
This is a technique used to release tension in muscles and connective tissue to help move the fluid that builds up in muscles after exercise. Research has found rolling foam helps to increase range of motion and reduce DOMS. Like receiving a professional massage, foam rolling increases blood circulation, providing more nutrients and oxygen. To begin with, use a soft version first. Firmer foam rollers allow you to apply more pressure, but if you’re not used to them, they can be intense.
Giving your muscles the nutrients they need to repair and grow can speed up the recovery process. We suggest starting recovery by making sure you get 20 to 40 grams (g) of protein and 20 to 40 grams of carbs in 30 minutes of intense or prolonged exercise. Protein is important for providing the amino acids needed for muscle recovery, while carbohydrates play a major role in replenishing the fuel stores consumed by muscles during exercise. You won’t help your muscles recover if you’re hungry for the rest of the day. Prioritise your food intake and make sure your daily protein intake is stable enough to ensure your tissues receive a steady stream of amino acids throughout the day. Fruits, vegetables, and legumes are vital in providing your body with vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and zinc, that promote healing.
Staying hydrated is an important aspect of muscle recovery. Water keeps fluids moving in your body, which can help reduce inflammation, eliminate waste, and provide your muscles with essential nutrients. You’ve likely reached dehydration before you’re thirsty, so the trick is to drink consistently and up to 2 litres per day.
Sleep is critical for many reasons, it’s one of the most important components of exercise recovery. Sleep makes new proteins that are needed to repair damaged muscles.
The night following a day of working out is not the time to skimp on closing your eyes. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep.
Sore muscles need to rest, but that doesn’t mean putting your feet up and spending the day on the sofa. Try to achieve gentle movement through activities such as restorative yoga; easy walking, swimming or biking; or even light resistance training. The bottom line is not to do another intense workout using the same muscle groups on subsequent days. You want the blood to move to sore muscles to provide them with the oxygen and nutrients they need to recover without causing further damage to muscle tissue.
If muscle soreness persists or you require additional and expert advice to recover from your workouts, get in touch with us today for all your physiotherapy needs.