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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Muscle Soreness Recovery Tips

sorenessWhen we are new to exercise or trying an exercise that is new to our body, it’s pretty common to feel SOME sort of muscular pain.

I think most of us can agree that a little muscle soreness after a fantastic workout is a fun way to remember that things are changing and that we are getting stronger. I think we can also agree (and most have experienced it) that there is a certain degree of soreness that kind of feels like “everything hurts so badly you can’t stand up or lift your arms,” which isn’t quite as motivating. Along with this you may feel irritable, fatigued, and really hungry. Sounds fun, right?

Not to worry! For each type of muscular soreness there is an amazing  recovery solution.

Why Do My Muscles Get Sore in the First Place?

The muscle soreness that you feel 24 to 48 hours after the workout is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and it is actually caused by tiny micro-tears in the muscle and surrounding tissue. Say WHAT? Tears in the muscle? Sounds pretty terrible, right? But actually those little tears in the muscle are necessary to make things stronger.

So What Should I Do About Muscle Soreness?

To alleviate mild muscle soreness, a little movement is actually best! Try walking or some yoga. While it’s good to move after a workout to take away some of that pain, this is a pretty fine line and it’s most important to truly listen to and trust your body and give it rest when needed.

Here are five ways to take care of your muscles and reduce muscle soreness:

  1. Take it slow. Gradually progress the intensity, frequency, and duration of your workouts.
  2. Foam roll. Not sure what this is? It’s a way of stretching and basically giving your muscles and fascia a great massage. Check out our handy guide on how to foam roll!
  3. Get a massage. You’re going to love this one! Foam rolling is great, but if you have the time and funding for a therapeutic massage, it’s well worth the investment. It helps your body heal itself.
  4. Practice yoga or do some light stretching. Avoid a fast-paced or intense practice and choose something slower such as Yin or Hatha yoga.
  5. Ice the muscles. Placing an icepack on a specific area may help reduce muscle soreness in a very localized area. Make sure not to leave the icepack on for very long, though, as it may cause tissue death.

It all comes down to listening to your body and not being afraid to take a day or two to let your body heal. Soreness, injury, and illness are a time to nurture yourself and give your body the rest it needs. Take the rest, and pay attention to how much stronger you feel in your next workout!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, contributing writer, group fitness instructor, and author of healthy living blog Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

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Topics: yoga injury prevention muscles stretching pain recovery

The Fitness Puzzle: Nutrition, Workout, and Recovery

460050857Along the way, I have learned that fitness and wellness can seem quite complicated. Various mentors, self-described gurus, professors, doctors, and muscle magazines have provided us all with enough quick fixes, miracle workouts, and “sound” advice to help us become the person we want to become (and also fill an encyclopedia). Probably the best advice anyone has given me would be the old saying, “Find something you love to do, do it, and do it well.” If you do not love any form of fitness, whether it is ice hockey or Zumba, at least find something that you can put up with, such as outdoor hiking or gardening, and do it well.

There can be any number of pieces to a puzzle, but we will focus on three. While missing puzzle pieces make it harder to see the big picture, having no puzzle pieces makes it impossible to see your potential outcome. On the other hand, with all three pieces of this puzzle in place, there is no reason you will be unable to fulfill your goals and realize your potential.

The Pieces of the Puzzle

Here are the pieces:

  1. Nutrition: Most importantly, you should be aware of the number of calories you are consuming each day, how frequently are you eating, and the quality of food you are eating. There are registered dietitians who specialize in nearly every aspect of wellness, whether it is for weight loss or sports nutrition.
  2. The Workout: Comprised of both resistance training and cardiovascular work, we always seem to think this is the hard part, but it can be easier than you think. Think about how many hours there are in a week (168). Then think about how many hours you are recommended to exercise each week (a minimum of 2.5). Also, you have a built-in support network when you work out with friends, and especially with instructors there to help along the way. (Here are more reasons to work out with friends or a group.)
  3. Recovery: Recovery is not always associated with the big picture, but it’s equally important. This encompasses everything from getting a good night’s sleep, to getting a massage or foam rolling, to proper hydration. Really, all that matters here is readying your body properly for another workout, maximizing your potential, and decreasing chances for injury.

The Pieces Work Together

Getting back to the puzzle analogy: If I were to have an amazing two-hour workout but then followed it up with gas station pizza and then pulled an all-nighter with my buddies, I’m probably not going to see results. That example goes without saying, but there are plenty of distracters out there to sabotage your puzzle and big picture.

Focus on your weakest puzzle pieces and try to make them one of your strengths. Understand that there will be slipups and hiccups along the way, but ultimately, if you can find the three puzzle pieces of the fitness analogy, there will be very little that stands between you and fitness prosperity.

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: exercise fitness nutrition motivation goal setting group fitness recovery