The first step in successfully overcoming any rival begins by understanding who, or in this case, what it is. In today’s fitness dominated world, our shared enemy is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), or as you most likely know it by – fatigue. DOMS can occur anywhere in the body that’s been recently subjected to unfamiliar or otherwise strenuous physical activity. Although not yet fully understood by science, DOMS appears to be the direct result of connective tissue trauma – which is a fancy way to say torn muscle fiber.
Question is, is DOMS bad for you? To that, we answer yes and no. It sort of goes both ways. See, after a taxing workout, your body needs adequate time to build and replace impaired muscle tissue in place of the damaged fibers. While this is process happens, you’ll find, or rather feel the affected tissue (muscles) begin to stiffen, which makes you less likely to move around or otherwise inhibit the body’s natural repair process.
As much as we’d all love to exercise hard every day, there’s no escaping DOMS. Its presence is inevitable and affects us all. However, don’t let that discourage you – there’s still plenty of ways to fight back. We’ve found 10 scientifically proven ways to help speed up recovery and greatly reduce DOMS’s gripping effects.
1. Stretch out
One of the easiest and most underrated methods to help diminish DOMS’s effects is by stretching. It’s as simple as it sounds – lightly stretching for 10 minutes before your workout can have wondrous impacts on your athletic performance. Our reasoning behind this notion is simple: by not stretching, you may put your body at risk of not having the right muscle pliability necessary for proper movements. As a result, this can possibly lead to a further delayed recovery time as well as a potentially unwanted fitness injury. Not good.
2. Take a hot or cold shower
When you take a warm shower, the absorbed heat relaxes and softens up bodily tissue, causing it to expand outward. This temporary expansion of tissue acts as a catalyst for more efficient blood flow and primarily reduces muscular ‘stiffness’. On the contrary, cooler water temperatures induce an instinctive full-body inward contraction, to preserve heat. This process binds your muscles closer together, effectively lowering swelling and inflammation. Lastly, try adding Epsom salt alongside your warm bathtub – it’ll feel wonderful.
3. More quality sleep
Sorry folks, no staying up late into the AM off your pre-workout for this one. In order to recover as quickly as possible, obtaining the proper amount of rest is critical. After all, the majority of cellular growth and repair is mostly completed while you’re asleep. Not to mention that it’s absolutely necessary for optimal daily bodily function. So, naturally, the more you rest, the less time it’s going to take to rebuild and grow muscles. We strongly suggest getting a minimum of at least 8 hours of rest per night, but if you can get more, go for it!
4. Get a massage
Receiving a high-quality deep tissue sports massage on occasion can often times mean the difference between a painfully long or minimal duration of recovery time. This is because when you receive a deep tissue massage your muscles become relaxed and softened, thereby allowing for a faster recovery by means of manual, physical realignment. Additionally, massages also help alleviate built up bodily and mental stress by releasing cellular toxins to help get you on your feet and feeling better faster, for longer.
5. Drink lots of water
On average, the human body is made up of 60%, or roughly two-thirds water at any given time. Water is, at large, responsible for the completion of a number of important bodily tasks, such as transporting oxygen, nutrients, and glucose into cells. Furthermore, water also eliminates performance inhibiting cellular ‘junk’ byproducts, like carbon dioxide and free radicals. In a sense, it’s one of your body’s main fuel types. Without adequate amounts of it, the body ceases to work properly, resulting in massive impacts on recovery times. Don’t leave your results up to chance, though. We suggest drinking 2/3 of your weight in ounces each day.
6. Take extra EFAs
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are made up of the two fats alpha linoleic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6). Both are vital for optimal health, however, because the body cannot synthesize its own, it must be ingested through means of diet. Because EFAs play critical roles in the body, ensuring you have enough to perform at peak levels is important. Just a few benefits of consuming proper amounts of EFAs include improved brain function, skin quality, cell membrane integrity, faster metabolism, and enhanced joint health.
7. Up protein intake
Supplementing protein alongside your diet can offer great benefits, one of which being a speedy recovery. At any given time, the human body is made up of roughly about 16% protein, of which muscle makes up a large chunk of. That being said, protein certainly plays an inarguably predominant role in the body, so it’s important you’re able to satisfy your body’s nutritional requirements for optimal growth. If you’d like to find out more about protein or have any questions, like which types are the best, check out our top 10 ranking.
8. Warm up first
Clinical studies and personal experience have continually shown us that DOMS’s post-workout effects can be largely negated by gradually easing into your workout. Just 10 minutes of light exercise beforehand can help better prepare your body for imminent, strenuous physical activity. This helps prevent possible system ‘shocks’ by providing your body the time it needs to gradually increase its heart rate as well as blood flow.
9. Supplement with BCAAs
BCAAs, otherwise known as the building blocks of muscle, are made up of the 3 EAAs leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Because they’re essential, your body is unable to synthesize its own, so they must be obtained through dietary intake. Going further, decades of clinical data and firsthand experience have demonstrated BCAAs to offer a wide range of performance-enhancing effects. Some benefits include improved exercise performance, increased blood-oxygen carrying capacity and a significantly reduced overall recovery time.
10. Streamline your diet
Scientific research and decades of collective athletic experience have shown us how irksome it can be to deal with DOMS. But, at the same time, we also understand that one of the most strategic defenses in overcoming DOMS is a well-balanced diet. More specifically, foodstuffs high in macro and micronutrients, inflammation-fighting antioxidants, and glycogen (fuel), to name a few. Some effective examples would be fish, nuts & seeds, tart cherries, spinach, sweet potatoes, green tea, and other nutrient-rich superfoods.