Sore NO more.

Chances are, like any active person at the end of “New Years Resolution season” you are one thing: SORE. Instead of swearing off your 2012 fitness goals for good, take note: its normal to feel stiff and sore a day of two after a workout. What gives? A little thing called “delayed onset muscle soreness” and learning all about it will help you prevent it from hurting future workouts. Read below for EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know on the dreaded “muscle hangover”. With these top tips from Oxygen magazine and Caroline Jordan Fitness, you’ll be able to train hard  and get to the end of the year a fitness resolution SUCCESS.

SORENESS 101. Muscle pain explained. 

What causes sore muscles? Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS,  is the soreness you experience 24 to 48 hours after intense bouts of exercise. DOMS begins with micro-tears that occur inside your muscles during your workout. These micro-tears set off an inflammatory response and your body’s immune system works to repair the damage. This causes swelling and fluid buildup in and around the muscles creating excess pressure  which sends an “ouch” signal to your brain.

Immediate soreness – the pain you feel after racking the weights or stepping off the spin bike – is likely due to the accumulation of metabolic by-products inside your muscles. When hydrogen ions break away from lactic acid as it enters your blood stream, they trigger pain receptors. But this pain often dissipates 30 minutes post workout when your body flushes out the waste.

Good news is that soreness, especially DOMS, doesn’t have to derail your training. Its most often caused by activities that challenge your muscles in new ways they aren’t accustomed to, like starting a new routine or rapidly upping the intensity of your current one. Whats more, the recovery process that occurs within a muscle during an initial bout of soreness helps to protect it from future soreness. That means the same workout performed a few days later wont cause the same degree of soreness, if any. Not only are your muscles becoming stronger and better able to handle the force, the proteins inside your individual muscle cells adapt in such a way that makes them more resistant to damage.

The same micro-tears that cause soreness also play a role in building muscle, so it’s practically impossible to prevent soreness entirely. However by carefully following a moderate rate of progression, avoiding extreme changes in your fitness routine, and ensuring adequate recovery between sweat sessions you can reduce your chances of recurring muscle soreness.

Expert  training tips on how to avoid the “muscle hangover” from happening. Take these performance tips and prevent soreness from becoming a regular recurrence in your workout routine.

Before Your Workout

FUEL UP with inflammation fighting foods. Eating to aid muscle repair is easier than you think. Thais because the same healthy clean foods you eat to prevent heart disease will help keep post workout pain at bay too. “A heart healthy diet can be considered a muscle recovery diet as well, because both are rich in foods that contain compounds, including antioxidants and essential fatty acids that have been shown to help reduce inflammation.” says Nancy Clark, RD and author of Nancy Clarks Sports Nutrition Guidebook. “Make sure not to forget the protein which protects muscles from being broken down. Protein eaten prior to exercise will be ready  to be put to use when exercise stops in order to start repairing and building muscle.” says Clark. Combine dark hued fruits or veggies with good for you fats and some protein in a pre-workout meal. Good choices are a bowl of fresh fruit (strawberries, bananas, and kiwi) with non-fat Greek yogurt topped with silvered almonds or a romaine salad topped with blueberries, walnuts, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Perform a Dynamic Warmup. Though it may feel good, studies have found that static stretching (holding a position or stretch) before a workout wont reduce soreness later. INSTEAD do a dynamic warm-up where you move your body through functional movements at a lower intensity than your actual workout. A dynamic warmup will enhance blood flow to your working muscles and increase their internal temperature, potentially making them less prone to damage. If cardio is in your daily workout plan, start by doing 5 to 10 minutes of the same activity at a lower intensity like walking or jogging before your run. If you are headed to the weight room try performing one set of each exercise using body weight or 50% of the weight you’ll be lifting that day.

DURING your Workout.

Slowly Increase Intensity. One of the most common culprits of soreness is stepping up your program too quickly. Taking a more gradual approach will not only protect you against soreness, it will also help you progress more smoothly. Lifting too much too soon can lead to over-training, which occurs when your muscles dont have adequate time to recover between workouts. You end up breaking down the muscle more rapidly than it can rebuild itself, which is counter-productive. Avoid this by following the 10 % rule : upping your weights by 10 percent each week once you feel that you can complete all the sets and reps at your current level. The 10% rule is a good guideline, but always make sure to adjust intensity gradually to fit your needs. Keep a log book where you record each workout is an ideal way to make sure you’re consistently boosting your intensity at a rate that will build strength while minimizing soreness.

Prep For Circuits. You know that performing circuits has its benefits (saves time, torches calories, boost endurance, to name a few). But if you want to be able to walk a few days from now, ease into them slowly. If your current training program involves bouts of rest between exercises, then you’re giving your muscles time to reabsorb the flood of chemicals that can cause soreness later. But if you’re diving in to a super circuit routine, it can take your body even longer to recover afterwards, because you will be coping with the combination of soreness as a result of challenging your muscles in completely new ways, plus the swamp of chemicals that has accumulated when you scrapped rest between exercises. Your solution: gradually chip away at rest periods. If you currently take 60 seconds to rest between exercises, reduce that time to 45 seconds next week, 30 seconds the following one, and 15 seconds the week after that. Within a month, your body will have learned to move those chemicals out of your system more rapidly, so it can handle the back-to-back exercises in a super circuit without leaving you sidelined with soreness several days afterward.

After Your Workout.

Chase Your Workout with Carbs and Protein. “The ideal postworkout, soreness reducing snack contains a ratio of about four parts protein to one part carbohydrate,” says Declan Connolly, PhD, exercise physiologist and director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Vermont. “Protein helps repair muscle damage, which is essential for reducing soreness. Meanwhile, carbs help your body better absorb protein so it can do its job.” A study of US Marine recruits found that those who supplemented with both protein and carbs after a period of basic training experienced 17 percent less muscle soreness one day after a six-mile full gear hike, compared to a five-percent increase in soreness among the group that supplemented with carbs only. Fortunately, you dont have to spend a single second counting compounds. Click here to read my tips on pre and post workout eats.  Another tried and true post workout treat?  Eight ounces of low-fat chocolate milk which provides the perfect muscle soothing combo for any active person.

ICE ice baby. The reality is, once your workout is over, the damage is done. But applying ice to the muscle groups you worked the hardest can help blunt the inflammation response to those micro-tears, so you experience less swelling and less pain. Place zip lock ice bags on the top of your muscles for 20 minutes at a time. Take a break for 20 and repeat as much as needed to keep inflammation in check. Super sore? Give your body an ICE BATH. Click here to read my step by step guide on how to take a bath in ICE!! Trust me it works…. Im not crazy, just cold 😉

Epsom Salt Baths. Not a huge fan of the cold? Grab the bubbles and pour yourself a hot bath tub. Epsom salt may sound BOGUS, but its a technique used by many athletes and gym fanatics use to promote recovery during intense periods of training. Magnesium – the key component of Epsom Salt — performs more functions in more systems of the human body than virtually any other mineral, including regulating the activity of more than 325 enzymes. Medical research indicates that magnesium may reduce inflammation and relieves pain, making it a beneficial in the treatment of sore muscles, bronchial asthma, migraine headaches and fibromyalgia. Soaking in Epsom salt is an inexpensive way to help ease tired, achy bodies so you can revive and enjoy all of your hard training days. Click HERE to learn all about the benefits of magnesium sulfate and get my much more enjoyable recipe for an Epsom Salt Bath.

Massage Sore Muscles On a Foam Roller. A foam roller is the best 10 minutes  you’ll ever spend. Known as the “poor man’s massage” simple foam rolling exercises will pay fantastic dividends and help you keep your body healthy in the long term. Your body will be able to move more fluidly and freely. Foam rolling exercises are  great for preworkout preparation, tune-ups between workouts, and at the end of a hard training day. I challenge you to spend 10 minutes A DAY on the foam roller this week. Take notice of how it makes you feel and perform before/after your workouts. Believe it or not, massaging your muscles for 10 minutes can reduce post-exercise soreness by 30 percent. Click here for my step by step guide on what to do with a foam roller or watch my quick foam rolling youtube video below. Now go get yourself a foam roller and WORK OUT YOUR KINKS!

SORE no more. Your questions answered. 

“How can I tell the difference between soreness and a strain?” IF words such as “throbbing”, “stabbing”, or “popping” enter your vocabulary while working out, you may have strained a muscle. Another sign of a strain (which is a large muscle tear): the pain persists even when you stop doing the activity. Soreness that occurs during a workout, however feels uncomfortable, but the pain should let up when you stop. If you think you may have strained a muscle, stop what you are doing immediately and see your doctor.

“If I am sore after yesterdays workout, can I still exercise today?” Yes, but with some adjustments. If you are resistance training, its recommended not to exercise the same muscle groups on two consecutive days. If you’re feeling sore, perform a low-intensity activity, such as walking, yoga, or swimming. These activities will help temporarily relieve stiffness and it will feel good to get your body moving to shake off the sore muscles.

“If I don’t feel sore after a workout, did I not work hard enough?” I recently went off on a rather funny rant on this fitness myth. This is a common misconception in the fitness world. You dont need to feel sore to experience strength and other performance gains. While tiny muscle tears are an inevitable consequence of working out, if you increase your intensity at an appropriate rate, it will help reduce your chances of experiencing significant soreness.

I want to encourage you to EASE intro a stronger, more fit YOU. Take the time to develop a well-rounded, balanced workout program that gradually builds your strength, cardio, and flexibility. DON’T seek soreness. Look instead to build a QUALITY fitness program that gets you results int the LONG TERM. Train smarter, not harder. 2012 is your year to conquer.

Looking forward to seeing you soon for a workout class (both in the gym AND online!). Thanks again for being an amazing fitness family. Till next time… keep training! 🙂


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2 Replies to “Sore NO more.”

  1. I’ve been foam rolling like a champ lately! However, I feel like my calves (up by my knee and off to the side a little) are tighter than ever! Any tips?

    1. Way to keep up with the foam rolling ash – so important! There are great foam rolling techniques to release the calves using a foam roller and tennis ball. My favorite foam roller instructor and good friend, Ken Scott teaches these techniques online at . You can try out the site for FREE using my code: CAR112 . Take his foam rolling class online at home and request calf work. Im positive he will be able to help you relieve the tension in your calves. Lmk what you think and enjoy! 🙂

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