WASHINGTON – If you hit your back-to-workout routine just as the kids went back to school, chances are, you could be feeling a bit sore now. But don’t let that hinder your progress. Here are eight ways you can reduce muscle soreness.
Move your body: The last thing you may want to do is move more, but taking a walk and getting up from your office chair will help the sore muscles loosen up and become less stiff, all around. Moving also increases blood flow and oxygen to the sore muscles and facilitates the breakdown of lactic acid — a natural by-product that causes the burning sensation in your muscles when your body is tired.
Warm-up: When working out, always begin with a proper warm up. Getting your muscles and tendons ready for activity is key to preventing injury.
Stretch: Stretch each muscle and maintain the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Do not bounce your muscles. Rather, hold the position steadily.
Ice: If a muscle is super sore, or your legs are overtired, a 10-minute ice bath will do wonders. It might be painful at first, but the cold water breaks the pain by increasing circulation to your sore areas.
Massage and roll: If you can’t afford a trip to the massage therapist, help alleviate your pain with a massage from a foam roller or even a tennis ball. Lightly massage the sore muscle with the roller or the ball, and gradually increase the depth of the massage. The video below demonstrates foam rolling.
Flush the soreness away: If you can’t quite bear the thought of an intense ice bath, try the popular “flushing” technique. Run hot water over your sore muscles for two minutes and then immediately switch to cold water for 30 seconds. Repeat this five times. The back-and-forth of the hot and cold water opens and closes your blood vessels, which helps to flush the lactic acid from your sore muscles.
Embrace the protein: One way to help muscles recover faster is to refuel with protein. After exhausting your muscles in a workout, replenish your muscles’ energy stores. Try eating a Greek yogurt or making a skinless chicken breast.
Drink water: Without water, the body will not work like it should. Dehydration will cause your body to cramp, adding to the overall soreness, so make sure you are getting plenty of fluids.