We’re all guilty of embarking on the hottest new fitness trend or pushing ourselves too hard when we have overindulged, we then wonder why our muscles ache and we are unable to walk for the few days that follow such an intense workout.
So why do we experience soreness after exercise, and how can we avoid it?
Emily Whitehead, top registered nutritionist MBANT and personal trainer reveals “Muscle soreness, commonly known as Delayed Muscle Soreness (DOMS), can be caused by microscopic damage to your muscle fibres and is usually associated with an unusual or increased load to the muscle. This triggers soreness and stiffness in our muscles from 24 to 48 hours after we’ve exercised”.
DOMS is not always avoidable, especially for those of us that don’t exercise regularly. However, Emily says that thoroughly warming up and cooling down as well as gradually increasing the amount of exercise we do can help to prevent such uncomfortable consequences. In other words, don’t do too much too soon.
Other ways to prevent and reduce muscle soreness include static stretches, held for up to 30 seconds, and foam rolling. These will help to ease and release muscle tension.
What we eat can influence how our bodies respond to exercise, so is it possible avoid soreness with a post-workout feast? Emily recommends when training for an hour or more you should eat a snack after exercise that includes carbohydrates as this will replenish lost glycogen stores as well as protein that helps to repair your damages muscle fibres.
How supplementation can help
Although nutrition helps to fuel exercise and optimise our recovery, it isn’t always enough to meet the high demands of training. For this reason, Emily recommends supplementation.
She says “One of the supplements I recommend is magnesium, applied through the skin. This mineral is lost when we sweat and it plays a vital role in our body’s ability to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which we need for energy. An insufficient amount of cellular magnesium may result in a build-up of lactic acid. Ultimately leaving our bodies susceptible to muscle tiredness and soreness.”
Studies have shown that supplementing magnesium transdermally (through the skin) is an effective way to absorb this mineral.