Physical activity is incredibly beneficial for many areas of health. Appropriate exercise supports the cardiovascular system, blood sugar balance, energy, mood, mental clarity, blood circulation, and sleep. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is common to experience 12-48 hours following a workout. This dull achy pain occurs while muscles undergo repair from minor small tears brought on during intense physical exertion. The recovery process involves an inflammatory response, which contributes to muscles feeling sore, tender, stiff, and fatigued. Here are strategies for naturally supporting the body in its recovery process and reducing muscle soreness.
Eat a Nutritionally Dense Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Muscles require key nutrients for efficient repair. Protein is essential for rebuilding muscle tissue and is ideally consumed directly following a workout. Antioxidants play a vital role as well, specifically for reducing oxidative stress that comes with muscle breakdown. Since muscle soreness is partially inflammatory in nature, utilizing nutrition to reduce the overall inflammatory load on the body is essential. This involves limiting pro-inflammatory items such as refined sugar and feeding the body anti-inflammatory foods such as salmon, turmeric, garlic, ginger, dark leafy greens, and berries.
Alternating hot and cold, either in the shower or with hot/cold packs are excellent for muscle recovery. Blood vessels dilate when exposed to warmer temperatures, and constrict when exposed to cooler temperatures. Alternating between these two states results in improved blood circulation, which leads to a higher influx of nutrients and removal of waste at the cellular level, improving the efficiency of muscle repair.
Mild physical activity is helpful for recovery because it moves the muscles in a way that doesn’t lead to a further breakdown, and stimulates blood circulation, which greatly assists in the repair process. Walking and stretching are examples of light movement, but the appropriate intensity is highly dependent on each unique individual.
Engage in Appropriate Physical Activity
Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of exercise over time allows the body to adapt to higher physical demands. As muscle strength and endurance improve with consistent exercise, the level of muscle breakdown and soreness shifts accordingly. Appropriate warm-up and cool-down strategies are also incredibly beneficial.
Optimize Gut Health
Our digestive system is responsible for breaking down the food we eat and absorbing the nutrients important for our health. The health of the gut plays an important role in the efficiency of nutrient absorption, as well as the overall inflammatory load on the body.