I don’t believe in popping a pill to combat post-exercise soreness. Yes, if you have inflammation then take an ibuprofen, but making a habit of it is not healthy. Muscle soreness can be a useful gauge in telling you if your workout was hard enough, or too hard. For example, debilitating soreness, like when it hurts to sit down or stand up, is always a no-no. I recall being sore for days on end after a workout when I was a newbie. I later discovered my mistake. Debilitating soreness is not necessarily caused by your workout, but what is done — or not done directly following it.
If you experience soreness for more than 3 days after a workout, you’ve over-trained. You can prevent this by implementing a proper training routine. Your exercise routine should follow a safe, specific rep/set scheme for your level of fitness. As a general rule, if you are doing weight training, no more than 20 total sets per session and 45 minutes to 1 hour in length; the same goes for body weight training. High intensity training workouts should be roughly 20 minutes long (not counting a warm up and cool down). Steady state cardio for fat loss and tone should be no more that 45 minutes long. Performing an excessive amount of reps or sets can lead to over-training.
Use proper form/technique
Lifting a weight beyond your body’s capability, or using improper form, can also contribute to extreme soreness. Learn proper form before executing a movement.
Jump start recovery
Cool down, stretch, massage and refuel
- After every workout, you should perform a brief cool down. 3 to 5 minutes will suffice. The cool down should consists of some light cardio—treadmill walking, elliptical, or light jog. Cool downs help flush out lactic acid built up from exercise.
Use Your Body
Stretching aids with recovery by decreasing muscle tightness. Perform 3 sets of multiple stretches, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Larger muscle groups, like the legs and back, may require at least 60 seconds each set to loosen up.
Walk around every day. This is most important the day or two after your workout, when you’re at the height of soreness. If you sit down frequently and for long periods, you may notice a brief intensification of soreness in your muscles once you stand up.
Don’t overlook the importance of refueling post-workout
This will kick-start recovery by providing nutrients to the muscles that have been worked. For optimum recovery, refuel 30 – 60 minutes after exercising. This is the prime window of time is when your muscles are most receptive to nutrients and when your body can best put them to use for muscle tissue repair. When that 60 minute window closes, your muscles won’t be as receptive, and no amount or special combination of nutrients will be as effective toward your recovery as before that 60 minute period lapsed. You can learn more about this in the book: Nutrient Timing by Robert Portman and John Ivy.
There are multiple ways to refuel post workout. You can have a meal or a shake. A shake is optimum. The quicker your body gets the nutrients it needs, the better for recovery.
While you can’t fully avoid soreness caused by exercise, you can decrease its intensity and length by following the simple advice above. Give these tips a try, and see how they can work positively for you in you mission to reduce muscle soreness.
Have questions? Contact me.
MEET SYLVIA PETRO — THE BROKE, FIT SINGLE MOM: As an athlete of over 15 years, and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created this site to aid not only broke single parents to a life of fitness, but anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the road to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; informing readers about mastering both of those building blocks is my goal.