After skipping the gym for a few days (okay, weeks!) and then making a vigorous comeback with intensive training, you're more than likely to be experiencing painful muscle soreness within the next 24 hours. Depending on the intensity of your training, the resulting soreness may be so severe that even getting up from the couch could lead to painful groaning. Why does this happen? Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is a perfectly normal occurrence when it comes to starting with training after a longer period of non-active muscles.
Rachel Straub, M.S., a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-author of Weight Training Without Injury, defines it: DOMS is basically the result of microtrauma to the muscle and surrounding tissue that provokes an inflammatory response, which inevitably increases the perception of pain. But, she states, DOMS can be successfully avoided by keeping a few things in mind before starting your workout.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, ain't it? Before providing you with some useful tips on how to deal with post-workout soreness, here are a few pieces of advice on how to prevent, or ease your muscle inflammation. First of all, don't start with your first workout by pushing yourself to the maximum. It is important that after a long period of skipping exercising, you have an easy start. Your muscles have been sleeping for some time, so you need to give them a gentle wake up call. Start with a little bit of cardio and some unchallenging exercises to warm up your muscles. Furthermore, after your workout, it is essential to do proper stretching. Even if you had easy training, stretch your muscles to ease the coming soreness. Even cooling down by walking a slow pace on the treadmill is a good way to stretch your muscles.
Dealing with soreness
One of the options for reducing muscle soreness is taking an ice bath. Due to its characteristic of constricting the blood vessels, ice baths have shown to be able to reduce soreness to up to 20%. Participants to a study sat in the ice bath for about 7-8 minutes and have proved to have the lowest level of soreness.
Another (and quite obvious) option to relieve the muscle pain is to have a massage. It has been proven that massages reduce the inflammation by decreasing the level of cytokines reduction, which are the agents responsible for the inflammation.
Although any kind of movement hurts when having a muscle inflammation, this is precisely the thing that you need to do. Move. Active recovery will help your muscles recover in a more rapid way, but reduce your activity to a lot less intensity than the one that caused the inflammation.
Don't push yourself too much with the active recovery. After a light walk, or a yoga class, have some rest. Your muscles also need to rest to receive a full recovery.