“OMG! My legs are so sore!”
“Well, that’s gonna be sore tomorrow…”
“I was fine yesterday, but today I’m really sore.”
If you can relate to any of these phrases above, this will be a great post to help you figure out what exactly causes some muscle soreness and how you can help to relieve it in more ways than stretching alone.
**Please Note: If you are still feeling intense soreness after 72 hours or any pain other than simple muscle soreness (sharp, burning, aching, etc) please be sure to see a doctor.**
How’d I get so sore?
Most of the time, people who workout or run or do strength training or even participate in a physical activity that they haven’t done in while, will experience what’s called delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. Delayed muscle soreness is usually an adaptive process of the body that initiates after intense exercise. This kind of soreness usually shows up about 24-48 hours after exercise and slowly goes away about 72 hours afterward.
It’s typically caused by very small, microscopic tears in the muscle. When weight lifting or running muscles will lengthen under pressure (weight or movement) causing the tiny little tears. At the anaerobic level, muscles will also develop lactic acid which builds up inside the muscle, causing soreness.
Have you ever taken a break from working out due to injury or time constraints (or laziness), gone back to working out and gotten REALLY sore afterward? People typically develop delayed onset muscle soreness when they’ve increased the intensity, duration or frequency of their workouts. So, it’s pretty common to be sore if you haven’t worked out in a while.
What can I do about it?
Unfortunately, no one has developed a complete cure for preventing soreness altogether, BUT… there are plenty of options to help alleviate soreness or decrease it’s intensity.
1. Stretch (even if you don’t feel sore right away)
Stretching does wonders for so many reasons. It increases flexibility, helps prevent injury and most importantly, it increases blood flow to the muscles. The more blood flow, the more oxygen that muscle gets in order to recover. Stretch AFTER your run or workout. Or after a short warm up, so that your muscles are loose. Don’t neglect your stretching! It’s just as important as the workout itself!
2. Compression Socks or Sleeves
In recent years (at least from what I’ve observed) compression gear is beginning to become more popular, especially among runners, but can be used for ALL kinds of sports and intense activities. Compression is designed to help prevent the blood in your body from pooling at your feet. The squeezing of the sock or calf sleeve against your leg causes dilation with helps the blood flow faster to your heart, bringing fresh, oxygenated blood back to your muscles. Athletes, runners and even just regular folks who workout tend to recover faster after strenuous activity when wearing compression. This great video explains much more about how compression socks and sleeves work, and their benefits.
3. I like the way you ROLL! (foam roll, that is…)
The foam roller, and all it’s variations, has to be one of the greatest inventions EVER! Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but if you’ve ever had the experience of foam rolling your muscles, I’m sure you feel the same way I do.
There are times when stretching just isn’t enough. Or your muscles develop knots and very tender parts that need a little more TLC. You can opt for a sports massage, which can be a bit on the expensive side, or get yourself a foam roller and get to rolling! Just about any muscles can be foam rolled. Rolling the muscle out help to push out that lactic acid that gets built up and causes that delayed muscle soreness. Rolling also helps massage the muscle and gets the blood flowing back to it more efficiently.
I will say that while you’re rolling it kind of hurts. Ok, well maybe not “kind of”. Depending on how sore you are, it can hurt a lot. But afterward? You’ll feel like a new person, ready to tackle your workouts again.
Foam Roller Resources:
www.runningtimes.com (shows you HOW to foam roll different muscles)
So, hopefully, after reading this you’ve got much better understand of how and why you get sore and what you can do about it.
How do you relieve soreness? What’s a solution for you that works?