Want to be able to go hard in the gym without your body aching for days? Let us show you the best way to recover from your session.
Lifting heavy weights is one of the best forms of exercise you can do. It gives you a huge rush of endorphins and makes you feel strong, powerful, and in control. There truly is nothing better than feeling yourself grow stronger day by day. But you know what sucks? DOMS, and the first time you get them you’ll be questioning why you ever thought it was a good idea to walk into the gym. But here’s the good news, there is something you can do to reduce DOMS and in this article, we’re going to give you our top tips for overcoming muscle soreness.
Let’s start with the obvious, what is DOMS?
DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) is the name given to the extreme muscle soreness you feel the day after a workout. It’s very painful, and whether you’re new to the gym or a seasoned pro, you’re going to experience this at some point in your training life.
DOMS usually occur in the days following a hard training session and it can leave you with a dull, sore ache for days if you don’t do anything about it. The tricky thing about DOMS is they take hours to appear, so in most cases, when you find yourself struggling to sit on the toilet or wash your hair in the shower, it’s probably too late.
Fortunately, there is something you can do to lessen the impact of DOMS and help you to recover faster.
- Active Recovery – One of the best ways to treat and recover from DOMS is to increase blood flow to the affected area through active recovery. That means performing a low-intensity exercise the day after a high-intensity session. There are plenty of activities you can do to help such as walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga, and lifting weights has also proved to be extremely useful. However, when lifting weights, the key is to make sure you’re working at a much lower intensity. Experts recommend working at around 20% of your maximum efforts and performing 2-3 sets of 30-40 partial reps to stimulate blood flow to the area. For example, if your legs were sore after a heavy lower body workout, performing 3 sets of 30 bodyweight squats should help.
- Go to Bed – Most people drastically underestimate the importance of sleep and if you’re sore a lot, it could be that you’re simply not giving your body enough time to rest and recover after a hard session. If that’s the case, prioritize getting 7-9 hours of deep restorative sleep each night and see how much better it makes your body, and mind feel. You might also have to look at when you train, because if you’re waking up early to work out, but not going to bed at a reasonable time, you might be starting your day already running on empty.
- Fuel your Body – If you’re sore a lot it could be because you’re not getting enough sleep, it could also be because you’re not fuelling your body properly. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or aiming to build muscle, getting your nutrition right is essential, especially if you’re taking part in high-intensity exercise. Not eating enough is an easy way to leave your body feeling weak, sore, and tired, but by making a few simple tweaks you could feel remarkably better. By prioritizing more protein and carbs you can feed your muscle and help it to grow and repair while also giving your body the energy it needs to help you perform better.
- Massage the Muscle – If you take part in regular activity that leaves you feeling sore, you may want to invest in a foam roller, a massage gun, and a good sports massage. They all have their uses and are a great way of manipulating the muscle and easing the tension in the body before your next workout. It could be that you’re someone who lifts weights 6 times a week and you use your massage gun to help your body recover. You might be a runner who uses a foam roller during the week but after a big race, you go for a professional sports massage. Whatever approach you take, all three can work and can be a great way of treating DOMS.
- Compression Clothing – It’s quite common to see people wearing compression clothing and Kinesio tape when working out, and there could be a good reason for it, they could help prevent DOMS. When you get DOMs, your muscles will become inflamed, which causes soreness and tightness, but when you wear compression clothing (tops, tights, shorts, etc) you’re actually keeping the muscles more tightly packed, which can prevent the muscles from expanding as much as they would if you were wearing loose clothing while also increasing blood flow. Kinesio tape has a similar effect. It’s been designed to help stimulate blood flow, so by wearing tape during and following intense exercise, you can help to increase blood flow to the muscles and reduce the impact of DOMS.
- Hot and Cold Treatment – Hot and cold therapy has been used by professional athletes for a while now and the good news is you can use it too. The heat can help your blood vessels to expand, which flushes them with blood, whereas cold treatment can tighten the blood vessels, forcing blood to move away. By doing both, you can flush the sore muscles with blood, helping them to recover. It doesn’t have to be too complicated either, you can easily buy cold packs and heat pads from most shops and you could even try having a cold/hot shower at home. Just be careful if you’re using ice or heat that you don’t put it on bare skin, which could lead to other injuries altogether.
DOMs is one of the worst feelings in fitness, and whether you’re new to exercise and feeling the strain after performing your first ever squats or you’re a seasoned gym-goer and you’ve just upped the weight, the good news is a way to treat your body and put an end to the pain and soreness fairly quickly. Over time DOMS will become less frequent and once you’ve figured out a way to deal with them, you shouldn’t have to struggle in the future.
Be sure to follow the top tips above and you will feel better in no time at all.