What causes muscles soreness in the first place?
Whether you’re running a marathon or walking up a flight of stairs for the first time in a while, muscle soreness is inevitable. It happens to all of us and unfortunately, there really isn’t any way to get around it. So, despite it being a little uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful, this process has to happen in our bodies for recovery and muscle strengthening.
The National Kidney Foundation describes muscle soreness as “a side effect of the stress put on muscles when you exercise. It is commonly called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, and it is completely normal. DOMS usually begins within 6-8 hours after a new activity or a change in activity and can last up to 24-48 hours after the exercise. The muscle pain is due to inflammation within the muscle, which is one of the main triggers for this muscle soreness.”
When it comes to the scientific aspect of it all, it isn’t 100% certain what exactly our body goes through for this reaction. It is believed that when our muscles are being worked harder than normal or used differently, it causes microscopic tears or damage to the muscle fibers which in turn causes soreness or stiffness.
Live Science helps us further understand this process by stating that “Once the muscle is damaged, inflammation ensues and electrolytes, such as calcium, begin to accumulate. The immune system also gets involved, according to a 2016 study in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, sending in immune cells called T-cells to infiltrate the sites of damage. Scientists still aren't sure how these processes come together to cause pain and soreness, but it's likely that they come together to trigger both healing and pain.”
Even though we aren’t able to somehow magically stop ourselves from going through this soreness, there are ways that we can manage it after it happens.
Tips to Relieve Extreme Muscle Soreness:
Despite whatever painful feelings you may be getting from your body, it’s important to know that this soreness is merely temporary and goes away within a few days. There are some things you can carry out to relieve some stiffness and aid your body’s recovery process.
Massages are a great way to alleviate some of your muscle pain. You can choose to receive one from a physiotherapist, massage therapist, a massaging tool like a foam roller or massage gun, or you can even ask a loved one to help out. With this, your body will be able to increase the blood flow to the sore areas which will aid in faster healing and not to mention, helps increase mobility and flexibility
Just as what we put into our body fuels us, what we put into our bodies post-workout also helps us recover. Foods such as protein shakes, spinach, blueberries or raspberries, chia seeds, bananas or oatmeal are great options. Just make sure to consume something shortly after to aid in your bodies recovery process.
Heat Therapy is another way that you can stimulate blood flow to the muscles and aid in the healing process. Although it is only able to provide you with temporary relief, it will ease some uncomfortable soreness. You can either do this by applying heat pads to sore areas or taking a nice warm bath with some Epsom salt.
As heat therapy is seen as a short-term aid in soreness, cold therapy is seen as a long-term treatment. Many athletes often use cold therapy immediately after workouts to fasten their recovery so they are ready to perform as soon as possible. You can use cold therapy by using cold packs on areas of soreness or the more popular option, take an ice bath. You can do this by filling up your bathtub with ice and water and immersing yourself in it. Studies suggest the timing of 10-15 minutes, but you may have to work yourself up to this timing. You can even work up in doing a few minutes at a time in the shower, the benefits of cold showers is also a great option.
How to Prevent Extreme Muscle Soreness After Exercise?
When we have something like soreness after a workout, it generally makes us not want to move our body until the pain is completely gone. However, continuing your workout, but at a different pace, can aid in the recovery process and help in preventing muscle soreness in the future. Just slowing down your usual exercise routine for a few days is all it takes.
On the same note, if you’re seeking more ways to prevent DOMS, you should take note of what you’re wearing. For instance, a study from Research Gate has shown that wearing compression pants during your workout has a 26.7% decrease in muscle soreness once you are finished. Just make sure to purchase legitimate compression gear to make sure you will be gaining all the benefits.
Lastly, one great way to prevent muscle soreness is to supply your muscles the right vitamins and minerals beforehand. While consuming products like curcumin and fish oil will help, Magnesium Glycinate has been seen as a mineral that can specifically help muscle soreness.
It is said that magnesium is able to regulate muscle contractions, neuromuscular signals and aids in the transport of calcium and potassium across our cellular membranes. What these processes essentially do is relax our muscles which will help ease muscle aches, pains, spasms and cramps. With magnesium being a necessary mineral for proper muscle function, energy production, muscle growth and strength, it can be the perfect addition to aid in your workout routine. It is also able to be taken before and after a workout, giving you more of a chance for fresher muscles.
Muscle soreness is something we will all experience in our lifetime, and although it is a part of our strengthening process, knowing there is something we can do to aid or prevent the pain is extremely helpful. Taking care of your body is one of the most important things we can do, so whether it’s receiving massages, using different therapies or taking the right supplements, find what works best for you and your body.