Pro Athlete Tips: 5 Ways to Deal with Muscle Soreness
Ask anyone who’s ever pushed their limits in training, whether they were crushing weights in the iron jungle or beating their track time in the field, and they will tell you that one of the hardest parts about exercise is dealing with muscle soreness. Sometimes, the inflammation in the damaged muscle tissue can be so severe that your entire weekly routine suffers as a result.
This is no way to uphold a healthy fitness habit, nor is it a good way to progress through your journey towards your long-term fitness goals. Muscle soreness should be managed efficiently throughout the week if you are to come back to each of your training sessions stronger than before. With that in mind, here are five effective ways to eliminate inflammation just in time for your next workout.
Adhere to flexibility training
What is the first thing you should do when you finish your workout? Gulp down a protein shake? Head straight to the shower? Well, yes, but before that, you should adhere to proper post-workout mobility and flexibility training. There are many reasons why flexibility exercises should be a staple of your fitness routine, and managing muscle fatigue and DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) are among the most important benefits.
When you finish your workout, your muscles are tired, contracted, stiff, and highly fatigued. Filled with lactic acid and struggling to kick-start the respiration process, your muscles need proper stretching to aid recovery. Not only will static stretching improve your muscle-building potential, but it will also help you recover just in time for the next training session.
Rehydrate your body
You might think that you’re drinking enough water during the day, and if you were just another sedentary individual, that might actually be true. However, as someone who is actively pushing their limits in training, your hydration needs differ greatly from the average individual.
Your muscles, connective tissue and central nervous system require ample water intake prior, during and after exercise in order to maintain the water balance in your body and help you perform at your best. Remember, just a 1% decrease in water levels might cause a drop in productivity and performance.
Utilize the healing power of plants
It’s no secret that professional athletes have been using healing plants, concretely cannabis, as a remedy for decades. From videos of Arnold Schwarzenegger puffing away in his living room to Michael Phelps admitting to frequent marijuana use as a part of his recovery process, the world and the medical community is rapidly shedding light on the benefits and medical potential of marijuana and its substances.
If you are living in a state or country where marijuana is legal, then you should definitely include the ancient healing plant in your post-workout recovery routine. For instance, marijuana is becoming legal across the US, and residents can find medical marijuana in Las Vegas and all other major cities where recreational use is allowed. Post-workout cannabis can be a powerful muscle-relaxant and help eliminate whole-body inflammation; however, be sure to research the best consumption method for athletes first.
Relax in an ice bath
Anyone who has been in the fitness game for more than a couple of months has heard about another popular recovery method – ice baths. Now, taking an ice bath might not be your ideal notion of a lazy Sunday afternoon, but the benefits might be worth your while. In fact, many professional athletes turn to cryotherapy on a regular basis in order to reduce swelling and eliminate inflammation.
The anecdotal reports coupled with scientific research suggest that taking ice baths once or twice a week might help athletes perform better and recover faster than their fatigued counterparts. Alternatively, you can resort to contrast showers if you don’t have ice or a bathtub. With contrast showers, you will alternate between warm water and ice-cold water three times for one minute.
Replace complete rest with active recovery
Lastly, even though the name might imply otherwise, rest days do not mean taking a complete break from exercise. At the very least, you want to remain active and tend to some light aerobic work such as light jogging or walking. Keeping active allows your body to pump more blood into the inflamed areas and keep the mitochondria of the cells healthy, resulting in less inflammation and a healthier body altogether. In turn, active recovery will allow you to come back to the gym stronger than before.
Professional athletes do not train like you or your friends. No, their training is on a whole other level, and while you might not have the same goals, you should steal some of their tricks in order to up your own fitness game. With these recovery tips in mind, there is nothing stopping you from raising the proverbial bar even higher and achieving your true potential.