Muscle Soreness: Causes, Recovery, and Prevention
Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of HealFast Health & Wellness series. Today's post surrounds muscle soreness its causes and some remedies!
I was very fortunate to be joined by a dear friend of mine, Justin Samra, visiting me from NYC on one of the few days off I had that month. As it happens, I was coming off a 24hr shift in the OR and Justin was dealing with the aftermath of a brutal "first week back" in the gym that left him sore and stiff.
That said, we both decided to trek up one of the mountain trails on the outskirts of Santa Monica to make good use of our time together. While coming to terms that we were no longer 18, we started discussing the causes of muscle soreness and what quick fix remedies existed. What came next was the following video in which we discuss the science behind muscle soreness and perhaps some simple remedies that might surprise you. Enjoy!
To summarize some of the key points from the video, please see below!
What is muscle soreness and how is it caused?
Exercise at its core involves the creation of micro-tears within the muscle. This is normal and crucial to how are bodies ultimately become stronger and become more endurant.
Once the tears begin to heal the body adds more muscle fibers in the damaged area and simultaneously strengthens the existing fibers, some have likened this to scar tissue in the muscles. This is why the muscle grows bigger and harder as it develops over time.
However, a side effect of this healing process is swelling caused by tissue inflammation - and ultimately, soreness. This can last several days depending on the condition of the person and whether they take both preventative measures or post-work out measures to reduce soreness.
What can you do to prevent excessive soreness post work out?
Don't ignore the warm up routine. Warming up is an important step we have all heard before. It doesn't necessarily mean "just go stretch" (more on that topic in another future video).
No - warming up means getting the body engaged and then slowly elevating the body temperature and heart rate with ever more intense activities and then keep the intensity steady once desired level is achieved. In the video, I reference MMA fighters, their work out routines usually follow this pattern.
Incorporating a slow build up into your routine will certainly help prepare the body and help prevent you from feeling that "I can't walk or move feeling" in the following days (unlike Leo below).
What are some remedies that can help the body heal faster and overcome extreme muscle soreness sooner?
First, cherry juice! Yes - just as Justin was surprised in the video believe it or not a 2010 study from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine, Science, and Sports showed that antioxidant compounds found in tart cherries called Anthocyanins help reduce the inflammation. Please note, other juices might have this as well but cherry juice has the highest concentration and thus maximum benefit.
Second, coffee. It is well documented in the science and medical community that coffee can help reduce muscle inflammation and fatigue, and thus the soreness level. I recommend having a cup up to 20 mins before the work out. Of course, a heavy running day or inverted exercise day might cause some unwanted acid reflex so try at your discretion. It will certainly help with increase your endurance and the intensity at which you can work out.
Third, icing/ice baths. While hot saunas and showers might help ease pain away, in fact it is icing immediately after an intense work out that is going to accelerate healing. I quote Dr. Bosco from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons - a specialist in Sports Medicine - who recommends icing over hot baths. Icing will prevent further muscle damage to help healing along a bit faster.
Lastly, get a massage! While the idea of getting sore muscles rubbed and prodded sounded terrible to Justin, it is true that massaging the sore areas will help increase blood flow and removal of inflammatory chemicals in those areas. This has been supported by research from the Journal of Translational Medicine and further notes that massage first above and then directly below the sore area, then eased into the primary sore region is the most advised for maximum benefits.
Things to avoid
Simply put, stay away from NSIADS like Advil, Ibuprofen, etc. While they do relieve the pain, their use is a tad controversial since there is mounting scientific evidence showing their usage actually reduces the benefit of the work out. While not yet conclusive, I would advise staying away from them for now and using the tricks mentioned above to handle and relieve soreness.
So this concludes our chat on muscle soreness causes and remedies. If you enjoyed the material, have any questions you want answered or any comments you want to make feel free to leave them below. Make sure to follow our HealFastRx channel on Facebook and Twitter for new updates and share if you enjoyed!
As always, until next time stay informed and be healthy!