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5 ways to reduce Muscle Soreness after Training

New Booty Camp class tonight. And there’s a cheap plug for the class, tonight in St. Brigid’s Castleknock Community Centre from 7pm! At some stage during tonight’s class, I’ll utter something along the lines of “You ‘MAY’ feel sore tomorrow… You’ll more than likely feel worse the day after.” Encouraging, I know. Especially as it will probably be said with a cheeky, proud smile (Coaches are horrible people!) I’ll simplify that it’s just a case of your body asking what the hell is up with all these squats and lunges. In reality, it is generally believed that the pain/stiffness is due to microscopic tears in your muscle fibres as they lengthen under tension (an eccentric muscle action). Huh? So yeah, I’m not going to delve into that during a break (primarily because I’ll be easily distracted and give them a longer break!) Basically, your body is just not use to adapting to the exercises, yet. Over time, it gets easier and you never quite get that stiffness that you do after a first session. It’s called Delayed Onset Of Muscle Soreness (DOMS). It happens to all of us. Usually on our first training after a while but also to a lesser extent if we change up our programme. Can you reduce it’s effect? And if so, how?

Well, you’ve probably figured out by the title of this blog that yes, yes you can. While the tears in the muscles, you can ease the symptoms of DOMS. It’s important to note that there is huge difference between the stiffness pain you feel from DOMS which is relatively safe to exercise with and an acute, sharp pain that if you get from an exercise you should not do. No pain, no gain is not always the case.

On a side note, lack of DOMS after an exercise does not necessarily mean you didn’t have a tough workout. Some exercises are have greater eccentric muscle contractions than others so the type of exercise, tempo of the exercise, weight involved and overall goal of the program have an effect. 

Here are 5 ways to reduce DOMS:

 We've all been there!

We've all been there!

1. Train More
Well, you’re practically screwed after your first session. Icing and massage might do a little for the muscle soreness but you’ll still have that stiffness. By training, your forcing your body to adapt. And the body will do that over a short period of time as it gets conditioned to the training. It’s similar to dipping your leg into a cold pool. If you dip your leg, it feels really cold. Now if you step away for a while and come back to it? It feels just as cold. But if you jump right in? Sure, you’re going to be freezing. But you will get use to it. 

2. Light Exercise and Stretching
Just sitting around the house or work will cause your body to seize up and you will feel worse. Like when you get pins and needles. If you stay in that position, you will feel worse. So stay active. Move around. Get a light jog or a few stretches in. Because if you don’t and you are still feeling really stiff, the thoughts of going back to that class or hitting the gym for a hard session 2 days laterwill really put you off. And if you don’t go? Well, you’re right back to point number 1. 

3. Challenge Yourself
Do not stick with the exact same workout for each and every session. The more you train the exact same way, the less progress you make over time. Your body gets use to doing the exercises and you no longer adapt. By the time you realise this and eventually change your program, you’re more than likely going right back to square one in relation to the muscle soreness post session. 

 And that's happiness before the gym... I'm not actually awake at this stage to know waht I'm about to put myself through

And that's happiness before the gym... I'm not actually awake at this stage to know waht I'm about to put myself through

4. Drink more Coffee
Now I’m not going to get into the science behind how caffeine can reduce DOMS… Because I wouldn’t know where to start. But there has been scientific research done one it the topic by people smarter than myself who have tested the positive effects on performance in drinking coffee before exercise and reducing the effect of DOMS after training as well. 2-3 cups of coffee seems to be the amount on further research. As if I needed another reason for my morning coffee!

5.  Warm Up by incorporating exercises you will be doing in your routine under greater tension.
If you’re squatting, your warm up should include light, body weight squats. By doing this, you are more effective preparing your body for the exercise ahead. Your body is going through the range of motion it will be expecting to go through under greater tension. So the muscles are already firing. Warming up by doing a 10 minute jog on the treadmill is going to increase your heart rate but there’s a very short range of motion involved in jogging in comparison to squats. You’re not adequately preparing your body. Therefore your body is going to be under greater stress performing the squat under greater tension. You can ease an elastic band to stretch out but you only pulled on it a little and then tried to pull as hard as you can, it may snap.

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