Wednesday, March 23, 2016

6 Ways to Fight Soreness

Since having babies, exercise affects my body differently. I have found that I get sore faster and longer than before children. Because I'm a researcher, I've been on a mission to find ways at relieving muscle soreness. Backing off of heavy weights for about the last 9 months has been one step, with doing a lot of stretching and restorative muscle work. I've still been lifting but felt I needed a break and focused more on Piyo, abs and cardio. Rotating different benefits (or utilizing all) and following these methods to reduce soreness is in your best interest to keep your body healthy and free from injury. 

1. Stretch

A flexible muscle has more strength potential and less of a chance for injury. When your muscles are more pliable, they have the ability to move more freely. Soreness is evidence of muscle tearing and tightening, so stretching helps heal the tears and loosen the muscle, which pull less on joints, bones, and nerves. Warming up lightly first, then ending with longer stretching time is proven to help reduce soreness.  

2. Hydrate

Our body is composed of 65-75% water and our muscles need a lot of it to function properly. Lack of water can cause muscle tightness, back pain, headaches, etc. We know how important water is and it's especially important when you exercise. 

3. Protein/extra supplementation 

When a muscle tears, it has to rebuild itself. This is the process of getting stronger. Protein is the building block that literally helps repair the muscle tears. This is achieved AFTER your workout. Most athletes use whey protein powder, eat a heavy meat meal, or eat higher protein foods to rebuild the tears more quickly, which reduces soreness. 

Another supplement I am personally testing out is Magnesium. This is a mineral the body needs to relax muscles and reduce spasms, cramps, etc. Magnesium also strengthens bones, lowers blood pressure, and keeps the heart rhythm steady. Lifting weights helps strengthens bones as well as your muscles, so fueling my body properly with vitamins and minerals it needs to ensure this, is important to me. 

4. Foam Rolling/Massage

Foam rolling is AMAZING and everyone should have one! It's another thing to have in the warm up and cool down phase of exercising. It helps warm up your muscles, work out tension, and aid in muscle healing. It's works the same as a massage, but you get to do the massaging. Professional massages are a great way to rid yourself of soreness and bring heal to those muscles. Both are great things to try and fit in regularly. Foam rollers are about $30 and last a long time. Definitely getting. Your money's worth even if you only use it twice, compared to paying for a massage. 

5. Hot Shower/Bath

Taking a hot shower is another way to keep blood flow moving to those muscles, healing them. The more blood that flows, the more the muscle stays warm and pliable. Taking one after a workout or the morning after, is a great way to reduce soreness. 

Taking a bath and maybe adding essential oils or Epsom salt can also relieve soreness. 

6. Muscle balance

A sign of muscle imbalance can be chronic soreness and pain. If you're a mom, you know that muscle imbalance can be reality. Picking up kids, nursing, holding a child on the same side of the body all the time, and carrying a car seat builds up a lot of muscles on the front of your body but not the backside. Back pain is all too common and a weakened core puts a lot of stress on certain organs, not to mention the spine. This pain can be reversed if we take time to strengthen key areas that provide muscle balance and prevents injuries. Strengthening your low and upper back helps support the spine and stomach muscles. It also improves posture. All these things can allieviate constant soreness, aches and pains. 

Combine all these elements on a regular or semi-regular basis, and your body will be taken care of with a noticeable difference in providing relief from muscle soreness. 

If you're having a chronic problem and you have pain that is unmanageable, please get checked out by a professional. Recently I thought I had a muscle problem and turns out it was a spinal issue in my low back. After trying each of these methods the pain would not subside and it was only through chiropractic treatments, icing, and resting, that the problem is resolved. Seeing a sports massage therapist would be a good option for finding answers, as well as a reliable chiropractor. And hopefully if they can't help, they would refer to another type of professional who could.

Since the minor injury, I've reassessed my own body and I'm currently trying to strengthen my muscle imbalances, supplement with magnesium each day, and try Epsom salt baths to prevent future injuries and relieve soreness. Hopefully adding those things will help!