It’s officially the beginning of Fall, vixens! As we’re getting into new routines and returning to academic and gym classes some of us are grappling with more muscle soreness than usual. The soreness comes from microtears in the tissue which causes pain and inflammation. While microtears are part of the muscle and strength building process, doing moves that leave you sore for days doesn’t mean better results. Instead, it can have a negative impact because the pain can make it difficult to keep moving and practicing.
We are learning new ways to manage this soreness and discomfort so we can keep moving in ways that are safe and accessible, and so we don’t do ourselves any permanent damage. Here is a little of what we have learned, and how your favourite instructors like to take care of themselves when they’re dealing with delayed onset muscle soreness.
Ecil vouches for staying hydrated, particularly when you’re sore and she’s supported by studies that demonstrate a correlation between dehydration and increased muscle soreness. Muscles release waste products and toxins when they tear and break down. Those cause inflammation and soreness. Water helps flush them out, reducing discomfort so remember to drink at least a glass of water once you’re done your workout.
You don’t need to eat a huge meal after you work out (unless you’re hungry) but Niya has noticed that eating enough protein has helped prevent recurring or long-lasting muscle soreness. Whether it’s a handful of nuts, this anti-inflammatory smoothie or some hummus and veggies, it helps support the muscle healing process by providing the necessary building blocks for repair.
In addition to taking the time to warm your muscles up before you move, gentle heat after your session can minimize tension and pain signals while improving circulation. Whether you are a fan of a warm bath (Rachel and Ecil add epsom salts to theirs) or you prefer to snuggle with a heating pad the warmth will help reduce swelling that is causing pain and tension. Depending on your heat source you might also want to elevate your legs if they’re sore to improve circulation.
STRETCH IT OUT
You already know that a good stretch helps release tightness and increase your range of motion. It is especially effective when you’re sore. While it does not actually heal the tears in your muscles or make them repair any faster it does feel good. Nadia uses this approach, and tries not to work the same sets of muscles two days in a row and Donelle takes the time to sit in yoga poses that are comfortable while listening to calm music.
GET A MOVE ON
We know it sounds counter-intuitive but movement increases circulation and improves blood flow throughout the body. Faster blood flow means the nutrients from what you eat get to their destination faster, and can start to rebuild your muscles faster. It also means that the anti-inflammatory compounds in what you eat can do a more effective job of bringing down swelling and reducing pain. Niya likes to do a few sun salutations when she is feeling particularly sore since this series of shapes moves all of the joints and large muscle groups.
ROLL IT OUT
If your foam roller is feeling neglected, you should know that self-myofascial release with a foam roller, roller massager, or the Yoga Tune Up balls that Lisa recommends, after an intense exercise session helped decrease perceptions of muscle soreness in the following days. Lainey uses her foam roller before her classes as well since rolling and massage improve blood flow and bring more oxygen to the area which helps address inflammation and soreness. And when it comes to massage Lisa is a fan of thai massage while Shannon suggests a percussion massager. Ecil also suggests acupuncture if you are particularly sore.
It is so great to be back at the studio, but too-much movement-too-soon is a big trigger of muscle soreness. Please be gentle with yourselves and take your time to ease back into training. This can help reduce muscle soreness which means you can take a class every day instead of not being able to move after a double. Also, if you want to try a new type of training choose a shorter class aimed for beginners so you can learn the moves and which muscles to use. Shannon is an advocate for taking recovery days when you need them!
We hope this helps you stay strong and flexible, Vixens! We look forward to seeing you in class – whether it’s in the studio, or online.