Do your muscles feel sore after an intensive workout?
1. Do cool-down exercises
We’re not asking you to run another lap, but some activity can stimulate much-needed blood flow to your muscles. Try something slow-paced that will keep your muscles from contracting – for instance, jogging on the spot for a minute. Th is ensures the circulation of oxygen and nutrients (such as glucose) to your muscles, and helps your heart return to a regular pace.
2. Shop for compression garments
Blood tends to pool in the lower limbs after a workout, says Frankie Tan, head physiologist from the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI). Compression garments exert pressure on the limbs, which reportedly enhances blood flow back to the heart. Oxygenated blood is then pumped to the muscles, which require oxygen to contract efficiently.
3. End your workout with a cold shower
Alternate the temperature of the water during the shower. Start with hot water to relax tight muscles. Finish with cold water – this can reduce the intensity of “delayed onset muscle soreness”, which is the muscle pain you get days after exercising, says Frankie.
4. Grab a trigger ball
These balls are designed to relieve pain and reduce tension caused by specific hyper-irritable points (known as trigger points) within a muscle. Place the ball between your body and the wall or floor, and use your body weight to apply constant pressure on the sore area. You can also use tennis balls or foam rollers (dense cylinders of foam) as a substitute. But if used incorrectly, trigger balls can worsen micro-tears in the muscles (caused by strenuous exercise), so always seek proper instructions from a trainer first.
5. Eat immediately after a workout
“Schedule one of the three main meals within 60 minutes of your workout,” says Kirsty Fairbairn, head dietitian from the SSI. Any later will mean a “missed opportunity to replenish worn-out muscle tissue”, which is important in reducing muscle soreness.
This story was first published in HerWorld magazine March 2015.