Waking up the day after a good workout and feeling stiff and sore is something most people have experienced.
It’s a sign you’ve worked hard. Of course, a sharp pain or soreness that lasts longer than three or four days could be a sign of an injury. But soreness that occurs 24-48 hours after a workout is a natural outcome of physical activity. It even has a name: Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
DOMS usually happens if you’ve recently transitioned back into the gym after a while off, or if you’ve increased the workout load your body is used to. Of course, DOMS can be pretty painful – it even might stop you from working out for a day or two. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to lessen the impact of DOMS, recover and help your poor sore muscles.
Rest up and recover
This one isn’t rocket science; rest is an important part of everyday DOMS recovery. And the importance of sleep and nutrition cannot be understated here. That means:
- Get plenty of sleep – most people need 8-9 hours a night
- Stay hydrated – drink lots of water and avoid alcohol. Alcohol can slow your recovery and be a real fitness frenemy.
- Eat well – make sure you get enough protein and calories to re-fuel and get yourself ready for another workout
- Add ice – icing up, whether with an ice pack or by going for a paddle in the ocean, can reduce soreness quicker and get you back in the gym sooner.
Alternate your workout
Alternating your workout is not only important to ensure you’re working all your core muscle groups for total fitness, it’s also helpful to alleviate sore muscles. For example, if you’re sore from an upper body workout – then doing cardio the next day can give those guns a rest. Or if legs day has you feeling a little wobbly, a session in the pool can give you the respite you need.
Stretch and work on your flexibility
While you might be keen to get down to business in the gym, then race off to work or home to cook dinner, stretching both before and after your workout can do wonders. Stretching helps to wake up your muscles pre-exercise and slowly cool them down post-exercise. Stretching might seem super boring, but if you don’t want to feel 1,000 years old the next day – do it.
You also might like to alternate your workouts (see above) with a yoga or Pilates session. Both yoga and Pilates are not only great workouts on their own, they can also help build your flexibility and muscle elasticity – which reduces DOMS and lessens your recovery time.
Speak to a friendly fitness pro
If you’ve recently returned to the gym or you’re a first-timer, getting the right advice from a Personal Trainer can help. A Virgin Active Trainer will be able to let you know the best alternate workouts, what stretches can help relieve those sore muscles and ensure you’re putting the right nutrition into your body. Book a free tour of a Virgin Active club near you and have a chat with our down-to-earth trainers today.