Why do our muscles ache after a workout?
You have likely heard the saying “no pain no gain”. Well as it turns out there may a tiny bit of truth to the statement. It goes without saying though, that if you are hurting DURING your workouts, that’s a definite sign from your body asking you nicely, and then telling you… to please back off!! However some muscle discomfort or pain after a workout is not at all uncommon or a bad thing. DOMS, delayed onset of muscle soreness, is a real thing and it can occur anytime between 24-48 hours after your workout.
When we ex hurt ourselves in ways that are either, different from our usual workouts because you tried a new fitness class, or you were just in the mood to push yourself, the difference in muscle use can cause micro tears in the muscle fibers and connective tissue. The low grade pain is felt because of the inflammation, which is the bodies way of trying to repairing itself. This is where the phrase “ no pain no gain” comes in, those tears and the subsequent repair help make the muscles get stronger, and it in turn improves our overall fitness and muscle endurance. The pain should start to significantly subside after 48 hours, if it lasts longer you may want to back off your new exercise regime just a little, and work yourself into it slowly.
Some studies have been done to examine what methods of pain relief work the fastest and most effectively, these were some of there findings:
- They found that submerging the body into cold water can reduce muscle soreness quite quickly in the test subjects (although the findings were limited), but only compared to resting or doing nothing.
- Massage is definitely beneficial for reducing post workout soreness. The research showed that just ten minutes of Swedish-style massage post workout was enough to reduce soreness in 11 healthy, young male test subjects. Researchers believe that massage reduces the amount of NF-KB, a protein that is involved in the inflammatory response to exercise.
- Light exercise is a sure fire way to improve muscle soreness and to get the muscles moving and blood pumping once more. This gets oxygen back to the muscles and promotes healing.
- A recent study found that tender point acupuncture–, that is, acupuncture that was delivered to the areas made sore by exercise can also be beneficial, whereas prior studies had shown it was not effective.
- Some say that flushing out toxins or waste products and increasing blood circulation is the secret to minimizing the effects of DOMS. Using hand held rollers to break up tight spots and muscle adhesion’s can be effective. Foam rolling and heat will take the pressure deeper, and optimize the bodies rebuilding process.
- Getting more sleep is also beneficial. Your bodies natural muscle building chemicals, like growth hormone (GH) increase during deep stages of sleep or REM sleep. Try to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep to promote muscle building. Most coaches insist their athletes try to get eight to nine hours of sleep to properly recover.
Yay!! that means we have a very good reason to stay under the covers a little longer.