You are what you eat. At least, that's the old adage. It's also one I believe in — what you put into your body has a big effect on how you feel. There are foods that fight fat and detox foods. There are even foods that help you sleep better and look fresher. Adding to the list of foods that fuel with a purpose are foods that help ease pain. Whether it's a headache, post-workout soreness, or an injury, these foods will help ease the pain away in a totally natural way.
If you've been upping your normal weekly mileage with a long, endurance-challenging run, then you probably have both a renewed appreciation for running as well as a lot of sore muscles. Sometimes the best way to recover is scheduling a recovery jog the day after a strenuous run.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) usually peaks a couple days after an intense workout; while anything too strenuous can make the pain worse — or lead to injury — doing light cardio can help repair and soothe the muscles.
Cardio increases blood flow to the muscles while also helping to provide much-needed nutrients. "It brings oxygen, protein, and iron to the muscles that you've been training and helps them recover faster. As the blood leaves the muscles, it takes some of the metabolic byproducts with it (like carbon dioxide and lactic acid) that may be causing DOMS," says trainer Harley Pasternak. Follow up with some well-needed stretching, which will help break up knots and increase circulation, to help further shorten the amount of time you experience DOMS.
So if you're planning a long run this weekend, then follow it up the next day with some easy cardio, like a slow jog, a leisurely hike, or a walk. Learn more ways to recover from DOMS here.
Between long runs, brisk hikes, and nonstop dancing, weekends are made to be active. But if all your weekend fun has left you stiff and sore today, here are a few remedies to make you feel better.
- High-heel relief: Spent too much time traipsing around town in your finest? Make sure your heel-wearing doesn't lead to injury with these stretches every high-heel wearer should do.
- Yoga for runners: Long runs can be grueling, so make sure you keep your muscles and joints happy with stretches that undo the tightness that running can create. Follow along to our video of a yoga series for runners to relieve any tightness.
- Biking aftermath: If a long bike ride was on your weekend agenda, you may be nursing a sore back and tight hips. These back and hip stretches are the perfect remedy.
- Roll it out: It's worth a trip to the gym to use the foam rollers if your muscles are sore and tight. Regular foam rolling helps loosen muscles and increase your flexibility, so a few minutes of rolling every few days now can prepare you for your next weekend adventure. Check out five types of foam rolling massages to do here.
Your workout can be affected by your mood, what you ate during the day, and your energy levels, among other factors. But there are also simple, unexpected ways you can ensure you're at your best before, during, and after your exercise. Find out what they are below!
Before: You know that coffee energizes you, so it may not seem so odd that this beverage can help you when you're working out. But the reason why coffee works for your workout isn't only because it makes you wired and ready to go. Caffeine actually increases your endurance by affecting how your muscles use energy in your body while you work out. Studies have shown that caffeine mobilizes fat in your body so your muscles use it as fuel, instead of glycogen in your body. That allows you to exercise longer, since your body doesn't use the carbs you ate before your workout until later. Caffeine has also been shown to help reduce postworkout DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), so go ahead and enjoy a small cup of coffee or tea before you work out.
During: Hold onto your water bottle while you go for a run? If you do, it may be just the thing that's helping you keep going. A new study found that having cold hands kept obese woman exercising longer, since they were less likely to feel overheated and uncomfortable. If you want to try this trick to see if it helps you, add ice to your water bottle before an intense workout session and use it to cool down your hands as you exercise.
After: Sore muscles are a common postworkout problem, but even though they are a good problem to have, having sore muscles can make it harder to stick to your workout routine or to go as intensely as you'd like. There are many ways to ease DOMS, but they don't just stop at massages and warm baths. You can also drink a little bit of tart cherry juice to keep those muscles happy. Studies have found that drinking cherry juice (or eating cherries) before and after your workout can help ease muscle soreness. If cherries aren't your favorite, try these other foods that help ease aches and pains.
Whether you ran too hard, tried out your first TRX class, or woke up feeling unusually achy after a gym session, muscle soreness after working out is commonplace. While sore muscles are a sign that you're challenging your body, they can also put a damper on fitness goals. Here are seven ways to treat and prevent everyday soreness associated with working out.
- Massage: If you're looking to relax and pamper your sore muscles, treat yourself to a massage. Besides relieving overworked muscles, a massage boosts the body's immunity system. If you went big this week and your muscles are feeling tighter than usual, skip the aromatherapy for a trigger-point or sports massage instead. It will feel a little more intense, but it's worth the payoff.
- Foam Roller: Can't afford a massage? Go for the second best thing, and grab yourself a foam roller. The quick process of rolling out your body breaks up knots in muscles and is especially beneficial for trigger points like IT bands or shin-splint pain. Even better is that foam rolling helps to decrease future muscle pain and injury by keeping the body flexible and loose. Get started with these five stretches to do on a foam roller.
- Active rest: Sometimes the best thing you can do for an overworked body is to give it a break — a rest day now will prevent a more serious (and sidelining) sports injury later. But that doesn't mean you have to lay in bed all day! Light to moderate activity helps the body recover by bringing oxygen and nutrients to damaged muscles. Just make sure to lay off the part of your body that is feeling the stress. Check out these active ways to take care of your body on a rest day.
Learn four more ways to treat sore muscles after the break!
After a week of being home with the flu, I hit the gym twice yesterday, taking two sweaty indoor cycling classes. Normally, a lunchtime cycling class is enough, but when the end of my workday hit, I was craving another. By the end of the second class, I was feeling energized and refreshed, and luckily, I'm not feeling sore or overworked today. Since my gym only offers 45-minute cycling classes, I'm thinking this might turn into a weekly habit for me — it was a great way to chase away the Monday blues.
With the exception of an evening yoga class or special fitness event, I've never opted for multiple classes in one day. I'm worried about working my body too hard, which may keep me out of the gym later on, due to sore muscles or injury. Yesterday's experiment taught me that this isn't always the case, but it's still important to be mindful of what kind of workouts to double up on — back-to-back strength training classes are probably not on the horizon for me!
You might think that only athletes, runners, and cyclists train strenuously enough to refuel on protein-, carb-, and electrolyte-rich snacks before, during, and after a workout, but dancers need nutritious ammunition as well. Most dance halls that teach genres like salsa, lindy hop, or ballroom will have a social dance after the lessons so you can practice your newly obtained moves in a safe and friendly dance setting. Lessons and the social dance can add up to three to four hours and work up a serious sweat.
If you aren't eating the right things throughout such an intense round of dancing, you run the risk of experiencing DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. Besides sore muscles, DOMS makes you feel exhausted, nauseated, and practically hung over the next day. An average 130-pound woman will burn 324 calories per hour of dancing, and if you plan to stick around for the social dance, you could burn up to 972 calories in a three-hour dance period. To keep your body adequately fueled for the exercise itself and to quickly recover for your next dancing round, here's a breakdown of what you should be eating and drinking.
You know the feeling: sore muscles after your workout. If you want to feel better fast, help speed the process along by doing these two things soon after your workout.
Feed them right: Eating or drinking protein soon after your workout will help repair spent muscles. The best postworkout foods are a mix of protein and carbs for energy and repair (a ratio of 4:1 carbs to protein, since carbs help replenish energy stores), so grab a yogurt or drink a chocolate milk. Want to quicken the process even more? Try a turmeric tea: the spice has anti-inflammatory properties that help accelerate muscle repair.
Get a massage: Who needs an excuse to get a massage? Sports massages feel oh-so-relieving, and there's good reason why. A new study found that getting a sports massage right after a workout decreases inflammation and boosts your muscles' oxygen intake, which helps your muscles rebuild and repair. Since it's not exactly possible to book a sports massage after every workout, make sure you keep up with your postworkout stretching and foam-rolling routine.
Whether you're easing pain right after a workout or later, find more tips for dealing with postworkout muscle soreness here.
"No pain, no gain" may be a common mantra in the fitness world, but it shouldn't always be that way. Sure, delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) means that you're building muscles that you may not be using regularly (a good thing), but it's not always ideal to feel sore after a workout. Read on for reasons why.
It could be an injury: While you may be used to that dull ache after an intense workout, make sure you understand whether or not the pain you're experiencing is normal DOMS and not an injury. Usually you can tell by whether or not pain is sharp or happens during your workout, since it can take 24 to 48 hours for normal DOMS to set in, or whether it's happening only on one side — if only your right shoulder hurts after lifting weights, for example, it could mean you've injured yourself.
More reasons why it's not always good to be sore after a workout after the break.
We are excited to share one of our fave stories from Fitness Magazine here on FitSugar!
In her latest book, Today Show contributor Joy Bauer, R.D., explains that if you make the right diet choices, you can boost your mood, improve your memory and even see healthier skin, hair, and teeth (not to mention drop a few pounds)! Bauer gives you her eating prescription in Food Cures, a book that follows her motto "life is hard . . . food should be easy."
Food Cures highlights 17 different conditions or common health complaints and offers solutions or suggestions based on cutting-edge science to eat your way to your goals. We asked Bauer to share three tips to try today for two areas our readers often ask for help with: easing exercise-induced muscle soreness and busting through a weight-loss plateau.
If you experience post-workout aches and pains . . .
- Eat salmon twice a week: "The omega-3s are potent anti-inflammatories. I like canned if I'm in a hurry or hoisin-glazed," Bauer says.
- Eat one red bell pepper a day: Surprise! Red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as oranges. The vitamin can ease body aches.
- Add a few slices of fresh ginger to hot water: "Ginger has the same compounds in it as many anti-inflammatory medications," Bauer says.
Keep reading to see what foods help with a weight-loss plateau.