When working hard at the gym results in arms that can barely move the next day, chances are you have a serious case of DOMS (aka delayed onset muscle soreness). We're here to help! From what you can do to prevent that hit-by-a-truck feeling to how to take care of it once it's settled in, here are 10 tips to make DOMS more bearable. (Lucky you — a healthy side of snacking is part of the solution!)
After an intense cardio workout or weight-training session, you might feel extreme exhaustion, muscle soreness, and nausea. This hit-by-a-truck feeling that you often wake up with the day after working out is called DOMS, which stands for delayed onset muscle soreness. Luckily, there are many preventative measures you can take to avoid it. Here's a quick list of 10 steps you should always take before, during, and after going to the gym.
- Drink a cup or two of caffeinated tea or coffee before working out to increase muscular strength and endurance and reduce the chance of soreness.
- Eat a pre-workout snack that is low-fat and high-carb with some protein.
- Take the time to warm up and cool down so you do not stress and overtax your muscles and heart.
- Do not stop and start moving while exercising; instead, keep steadily moving so fresh blood will be sent to repair your taxed muscles.
- While you are working out, stay hydrated by drinking water every 15 minutes.
- If you are sweating a lot, it's important to replace lost electrolytes with a sports drink or other electrolyte-rich foods, because these essential salts regulate heartbeats, muscular contractions, and nerve function.
- Stretch and use a foam roller to lengthen muscles and break up knots.
- Immediately after working out, eat a post-workout snack that has a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein to help restore the nutrients lost in the muscles during the workout. Try chocolate milk or a protein snack washed down with tart cherry juice, which has also been shown to reduce soreness.
- Consider getting a sports massage to increase circulation and break up major knots in problem areas that are always sore.
- Take a cold shower post-workout to reduce inflammation of the muscles. Or try an ice bath, which has been shown to reduce muscle soreness by 20 percent.
Whether you endure your post-workout soreness with pride or if yesterday's workout is today's I-can't-get-off-the-couch pain, DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) happens. You're in luck, however — a new study has shown that you can help your muscles recover, deliciously, with watermelon juice.
The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, looked in athletes who drank watermelon juice or a placebo drink after cycling and found that 500 mL of watermelon juice helped significantly relieve muscle soreness and reduce recovery heart rate after 24 hours. Previous studies have shown that watermelon juice may enhance athletic performance; this study looked specifically at an amino acid, L-citrulline, found naturally in watermelon juice, which helps improve blood flow and build protein in muscles.
The researchers found that unpasteurized natural watermelon juice is your best bet for the highest levels of bioavailable L-citrulline, so check labels to see if your store-bought juice has been pasteurized. Better yet, make this watermelon-mint cucumber cooler at home to refresh and recover after your next workout.
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.
Three nights of bouldering sessions at the gym, and I feel like a zombie who's been hit by a truck. Sore muscles are never comfortable, but I wear them with a badge of honor knowing I pushed my body a little harder than usual. On those days after I've gone a little overboard, relief is definitely in order — here are my go-to ways of easing sore muscles.
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!