Updated: Sep 21, 2021
After an intense workout session you are left sore, stiff and in pain for the next 2-3 days. Each time you try to move you can hear your muscle fibres screaming ‘Stop moving!’ Sounds familiar?
Okay maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but most people reading this blog post will have experienced muscle soreness (or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness - DOMS) before.
Why do we get sore?
Before we start talking about how to recover faster, it‘s important to understand what is causing your muscles to be sore in the first place.
During high intensity exercise, tiny microscopic tears occur in our muscle fibres. The body’s natural response is to create an inflammatory response, this leads to us experiencing DOMS 24 to 48 hours after exercise.
What can you do to prevent DOMS?
Contrast baths - Research has shown by immersing yourself in warm water (35-45°C or 95-113°F), immediately followed by cold water (10-15°C or 50-59°F) causes your blood veesels to expand and constrict. This opening and closing pumping action assists with recovery from injuries. You should aim to stay in each bath for 2 to 3 minutes, then repeat this process for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure to finish in cold bath.
Massage - Massage helps our body to reduce fatigue, decrease muscle tension, improve blood circulation and decrease swelling. There is no gold standard for optional massage time, it is usually dependent on how many areas are sore. A guideline is usually 40 to 60 minutes for a full body massage.
Compression Garment - Putting on compression garments immediately post exercise for 24 hours helps to reduce DOMS.
Nutrition - Ingest a combination of carbohydrates (50g) and protein (10g) ideally in the first hour after exercise will also help to reduce DOMS.
Sleep - Many muscle building hormones (e.g growth hormone) are produced during our sleep, especially during the deeper stages of sleep. The amount of sleep needed for each person will be different but aim for 6 to 8 hours of sleep for optimal recovery.
These recovery steps are especially important for athletes who want to stay on the top of their game following intense competitions.