Stepping on the scale. Assessing how your clothes fit. Feeling more energized. Feeling sore.
There are countless ways to evaluate whether your fitness program is making an impact. In an attempt to measure the effectiveness of your workouts, you may even rely on these methods to determine your success. Many people proudly exclaim they nearly vomited after a brutal workout or they were so sore they could barely get up from the toilet. But does an effective workout really equate to sore muscles?
Let’s go back to basics and discuss what exactly brings about those aching quads and tight hamstrings. Muscle soreness that generally occurs approximately 48 hours postworkout is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMs for short. It’s the result of muscle damage, microscopic tears in the tissue that occurs during exercise. And while muscle damage is a contributing factor to muscle growth, there comes a point when it is counterproductive and the risk outweighs the benefit.
Now that you understand what causes muscle soreness, you’re probably wondering how to eliminate it. By incorporating the following tips, you can make the most of your recovery time — returning to your workouts well-rested, stronger and no longer sore.
Shop the Farmers Market
Whether you head to the farmers market on Saturday or swing by the grocery store after work on a Tuesday, you’ll want to stock up on certain foods that have been shown to aid recovery. Berries are rich in antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation while preventing free-radical damage to our cells. Broccoli is also high in antioxidants and is high in vitamin C and phytonutrients, which may lower your risk of cancer. Carbs are crucial after your workouts because they promote insulin production, which drives muscle building. Potatoes are quick-digesting carb sources that will produce more insulin while refueling your energy stores.
“Get more sleep!” These days, we’re seeing this headline appear more often — in email newsletters, on social media and from our significant other when we nearly collapse at 5 p.m. at the end of every week. It’s not enough to get to bed early if your sleep is restless and intermittent. During the deep stages of sleep, your pituitary gland releases human growth hormone, stimulating tissue growth and repair. To increase the quality of deep sleep, consider using an eye mask and ear plugs.
Sip Your EAAs
To make the most of your recovery, consider supplementing with essential amino acids, such as those found in REAAL. The nine EAAs (essential amino acids) are considered “essential” because the body cannot produce them on its own. The only way to get them is through food and supplementation. REAAL is a patented EAA technology based on 40 years of research and 24 human clinical trials. It includes compositions and ratios of the nine essential amino acids discovered to be most effective at facilitating muscle growth and restoration.
Move Your Body
When you’re sore, the last thing you probably feel like doing is working out. It can’t possibly be a good idea to recover from a workout by working out more, right? Contrary to popular belief, doing some sort of light activity such as walking, swimming or cycling will increase blood flow to the muscles, bringing nutrients and oxygen to aid recovery. Avoid repeating the exercises that made you sore in the first place.