We all want lean, strong muscles but we may not appreciate the side-effects, in particular, muscle soreness and weakness. DOMS or Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness is that achy feeling in the muscle fibers that arises 24 hours to 48 hours post-workout due to tiny, microscopic tears in the muscle tissue from intense work, such as resistance-training. Lactic acid rushes in to help promote muscle renewal. Think putting hydrogen peroxide on a cut, it hurts temporarily but then heals. In this case however, the muscle not only heals but is strengthened and more defined than before the workout. Unfortunately, this re-building phase can be painful. Not to fret. Here are my top five ways to lessen the Ouch! factor and have you hitting the weights again faster.
This important amino acid is a hidden gem in the medical world. The University of Maryland Medical center found glutamine to be useful in the treatment of serious illnesses, injury, trauma, burns, and treatment-related side effects of cancer as well as in wound healing for post-operative patients. In relation to muscle response, L-Glutamine has been proven to increase human growth hormone, or HGH, the hormone responsible for those defined, shapely muscles you desire, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Ingesting the miracle amino acid will not only help your muscles to grow re: increase your metabolism and burn fat, but you will have a more improved immune system, thus aiding in recovery.
Glutamine can be found in plant and animal proteins such as beef, pork and poultry, milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, raw spinach, raw parsley, and cabbage. But a concentrated source of L-glutamine, such as a powder or capsule form, can be found at vitamin shops or online. If you are taking a glutamine supplement, follow directions on the product for proper portioning. But generally, taking 500 mg –1 gram of L-glutamine before and after workouts, and even before bedtime, should be sufficient.
Branched Chain Amino Acids are a group of three amino acids –leucine, isoleucine and valine –which comprise three of the eight essential amino acids needed by our bodies. A Japanese study found that five grams of BCAA’s before exercise significantly reduced muscle soreness and fatigue for several days after exercise. The study found that this amino acid chain plays an important role in building protein and preventing its degradation in our bodies.
These powerful amino acids can be found in meat, dairy products, legumes, beans, brown rice, whole wheat, eggs, fish, mushrooms, soy protein, lentils, chickpeas and nuts, including cashews and almonds. BCAA’s, like L-Glutamine, can also be supplemented in powder or capsule form and can be found at vitamin shops or online. As with glutamine, follow directions on the product if ingesting a supplemental form.
3. Chocolate Milk
The fountain of muscle recovery? While plain water replaces fluid loss from sweat, chocolate milk with its high water content does that and more. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Sports Metabolism, this yummy drink has double the protein and carbohydrate content than plain milk and sports drinks. The protein and carbohydrates help to reduce muscle fatigue, the study states, and the slight amount of sodium and sugar help to replenish lost water stores and to regain energy.
Have a glass within 20 minutes post-workout. Mike Huff, coordinator of the Duke University Sports performance program counters that muscle depletion and breakdown has occurred by then due to intense training; so go ahead and drink your chocolate ASAP.
Relax your way to a faster recovery. Stretching tightly bound muscle fibers after a heavy-duty weight workout was once thought to help to reduce DOMS, but an Australian study has proved stretching provides no post-workout muscle soreness relief. However, yoga stretches do have benefits for muscle recovery and it begins with the breath. Oxidative stress includes free radicals and waste products and causes adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, in the muscles to be reduced. ATP is a chemical that helps generate muscles to contract. Without enough of this chemical, our ability to perform strong weight workouts is dramatically reduced. Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, according to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
There really is power in our breath, and it will show up in the intensity of your next weight-training session. Try to incorporate yoga into your program at least once a week to encourage more successful resistance workouts from an increase in ATP, relaxation of the muscle fibers and mind and an overall sense of well-being.
5. Active Recovery (AKA Light Cardio)
It seems counterintuitive to work more when those fatigued muscles are screaming STOP! But a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that active recovery or light cardio activity immediately after a strength training session, for example, encourages recovery and reduces muscle lactate levels better than rest alone. Low-intensity cardio helps to stimulate blood circulation, which helps remove lactic acid from the muscles, thus reducing the potential for soreness.
After a resistance workout, try performing 30 minutes of a low-impact cardio activity such as cycling, biking or swimming at 30% of your usual intensity once a week to feel a less painful difference in those muscle fibers.
Post by: Christy Siebert
Christy Siebert is originally a mid-west girl from Cleveland, Ohio and is now based in sunny Los Angeles, CA. She graduated with honors from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. Christy is also an ACE- and NASM-certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher and a STOTT Pilates-certified instructor. She is an actor and model on numerous commercial, TV, film and theatre productions. In addition, Christy is currently co-producing, co-writing and starring in a brand new web series “How To Be Excellent” at www.howtobeexcellent.com. In addition to “Stop and Smell the Grindstone,” Christy writes for her own health and fitness blog “ChristyFit” at www.christyfit.com.