Nothing quite beats the feeling you get after an intensive workout. The burn, the aching muscles and the fatigue… They all have benefits, including a better night’s sleep and maintaining your overall health. However, one of my biggest pet peeves is the fact that the following day feels as though my entire muscular system feels as though it’s been dipped in battery acid and moving becomes a painful effort.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Aching muscles after a workout indicate that you’re getting stronger. As you exercise and workout, your muscle tissues become damaged and break down. As they repair themselves, they become bigger and stronger than they were before. Although this is how bodybuilding is done, it also applies to most forms of intensive exercise. In my case, doing an hour and a half of forms at full strength, coupled with shadow sparring, left me feeling floored yesterday.
If you’re new to the fitness scene and are just starting out, the pain after a serious burn can be a bit scary. Most people may be of the opinion that they’ve injured themselves and may not understand that this pain is normal. One important thing is to keep moving. Continued movement will help in recovery and keep the muscles warm. If you decide, “Uh oh, better stop until I feel better…” you may be doing more harm than good.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s a big difference between moderate aches and actual injury. Knowing the difference can mean preventing further and possibly permanent injury. If you have difficulties performing normal every day tasks, such as brushing your teeth or showering, then you’ve done too much.
According to an article posted on WebMD, there are a number of different things you can do to help with the aches and pains associated with working out.
- Keep Moving: When we feel pain, our instinct is to rest what hurts. This isn’t always ideal for continued physical conditioning. The article suggests that doing something light the following day after an intense workout, like swimming or cycling, can be beneficial;
- Get Some Rest: I’m not trying to be contrary here (considering the first point), but rest days ARE necessary for proper recovery. It’s suggested that the second day after a serious burn is the worst, so having a recovery day can be ideal;
- Apply Heat: People often debate which is better; heat or cold. The reality is that heat helps with pain and cold helps with swelling or inflammation. If you have aches and pains after a workout, applying light heat from a warm towel or heating pad can be beneficial. The important detail is to avoid direct contact with heating devices and to use heat in short increments, such as fifteen minutes at a time;
- Get A Massage: Massages have a number of great health benefits on their own, but getting one after a serious workout can help increase blood flow, relax your tissues and increase your range of motion. Be mindful of the type of massage you get and be sure to let your masseuse know that you’re getting one because of an intensive workout. He or she should be able to suggest something appropriate. As an alternative, foam rolling can also be beneficial, although this should be done carefully and moderately; and
- Take An Anti-Inflammatory: I’m not a big fan of this one. Although it will help with swelling and pain reduction, it’s one of those things where you shouldn’t take medication unless it becomes a last resort. My reasoning for this is because prolonged use of anti-inflammatories can cause a number of annoying side-effects on the body. So this should be used in moderation.
I’ve put my own personal spin on these five points, but the actual WebMD article can be read online here: https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/sore-muscles-after-workout
Some important steps the weren’t mentioned in the article, is staying hydrated and fuelling your body through proper nutrition. Your muscle tissue will need plenty of water, fibre and protein in order to properly build and recover damaged tissues. And if you happen to have Diabetes, be sure to monitor your blood sugar levels frequently before, during and after your workouts. ☯