In a recent study, a shocking 86% of respondents said they love muscle cramps and throbbing, sore muscles. The study was conducted by The School of Doesn’t Exist.
Now, truthfully, many people view sore muscles to be a sign of hard work put into a good workout. As we know, strengthening muscles happens when muscle fibers are broken down, and rebuilt. That’s where the ache usually comes from. However, you can go too far during a run, push too hard on the bike, or lift a few more reps than your body is okay with. It’s after those moments that you may need to fight muscle soreness. Not only does it feel uncomfortable, but it can slow us down and prevent us from keeping pace with our goals.
During a brainstorming session for another article we’re working on, that blasted tangent popped its ugly little head in, and we ended up naming three common sense ways to heal muscle soreness, without drugs or expensive equipment.
- Re-hydrate. You lose water through sweat and other processes, when you exercise. Drinking plain water, and electrolyte/sugar-balanced beverages, is an important part of post-workout recovery. Not just to replace the fluids lost during the workout, but introducing fluids into your system helps speed important nutrients to the distressed areas in your body, like the site of a sore muscle. Those nutrients help cushion some of the discomfort and assist the body in progressing through that breakdown/rebuild cycle, more quickly.
- Massage. We’ve found that many of our clients, friends and co-workers knew massage feels good after a workout (and really, anytime). But a number of them didn’t know exactly why, so here goes. Imagine a cramped thigh. The massage therapist first rubs the general area, to stimulate blood flow and release some of the tension (our body naturally tightens an area that’s experiencing pain and inflammation, as a defense mechanism). The next part is much less widely known. The therapist will apply direct and constant pressure to the affected spots. That often feels good, right? (but not always) Then they slowly decrease the pressure, until they let go completely. While the area is compressed, it limits blood flow and nerve signals. When the pressure is released, it causes an immediate rush of nutrient-rich blood to the area, to help expedite healing and protection of the injured site.
- Massage can be expensive. If you can’t afford a professional massage therapist, consider playing guinea pig at a local college or university, that trains massage therapists. If none is available, it’s still too costly, or you don’t have the time, you can ease some of that tension with a foam roller. Aside from rolling out tightness, there are all kinds of exercises to tone, strengthen, and isolate different areas of the body, for use with a roller.
- Sleep. While you sleep, your brain triggers the release of hormones that encourage tissue growth. This can help you recover from injuries such as cuts or amp up rebuilding sore muscles from your last workout. Quality sleep also equates to more white blood cells that attack viruses and bacteria, helping you defend yourself better, as you’re taking care of that throbbing thigh.The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. 30 percent of American adults get six or fewer hours, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One interesting break-out point of that research, shows people who regularly exercise clock more hours. This is good news for our achy muscles.