If anyone saw me yesterday, they may have wondered what was wrong with me. I hobbled along, my legs protesting with each step. I overdid it on Monday, the first day back in the gym after a week at surf camp. I trained at 6AM – pin squats AND front squats – took a barre class, taught a barre class, and put in another 45 minutes or so at the gym on restorative work, things like light sled drags and banded back extensions.
My quads in particular were SORE. I had a severe case of delayed onset muscle soreness, which is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles after exercise. It’s typically at its peak 24-48 hours post-workout, which aligns nicely with why Wednesday was my most painful day.
Whether you’re just starting a workout plan, or are a seasoned gym veteran, you will likely experience DOMS from time to time as well. When DOMS sets in, here are seven ways you can relieve it.
When I’m really sore, the LAST thing I want to do is move my body, but I’ve found that movement actually helps relieve the soreness and stiffness. An active recovery day can consist of a light jog, a yoga or pilates class, or even barre – something relatively low impact that gets the blood flowing. On Tuesday, I went for a brisk walk/light jog, just to keep my muscles moving. I trained upper body on Wednesday, giving the lower half a break (more or less).
Roll It Out
I have a love/hate relationship with foam rolling and using my lacrosse ball to bust through soreness. It doesn’t feel good, but then, when the tissue releases, it feels so good. I use the foam roller on my quads, hamstrings, and lower back, and a lacrosse ball, which is arguably more intense than a foam roller, for calfs, shoulders, and traps.
Check out Airrosti’s blog on using a foam roller.
BCAAs are one of the only supplements I use. BCAAs have a ton of benefits, including aiding in muscle recovery. I’ve found my soreness doesn’t last nearly as long now that I’m regularly drinking BCAAs during my workouts. My current favorite BCAAs are from the Surge line at Complete Nutrition. I like the white mamba flavor best! Surge isn’t sold online, but this line of BCAAs is another good choice. I’ll have a post with more on BCAAs next week – stay tuned!
If you’re not up for an active recovery day, try to spend a few minutes stretching. Really listen to your body. When you hit resistance, hang out there for a few and let your body work through it. Never try to stretch through pain. If you need some guidance on stretching, I like the Swork It app – pick “stretch” as your workout, select the length of time you want to spend stretching, and follow the exercises on the screen.
Take a bath
The hot shower I took last night did wonders to relax my sore muscles. If I have the time, I’ll fill the tub with hot water, and some combination of bubble bath, a bath bomb, and Epsom salt. I find it to be a relatively temporary solution, but it’s relaxing all the same. If you don’t count my tiny dog consistently dropping toys into the tub with me.
For me, popping pain meds is a last resort. I’ll admit it though. My DOMS was bad enough yesterday that I took a couple of ibuprofen mid-morning. If you’re hurting and feel comfortable taking over the counter painkillers, they can help with DOMS. Just be sure to read the label and follow all instructions. Be mindful, though, that in taking pain meds, you can disguise pain that could actually indicate injury, not just soreness.
While active recovery is my go-to method for working through DOMS, sometimes, you just need a rest day. Listen to your body. If it’s screaming at you to take a break, do it. Rest days are invaluable, to both the body and the mind.
My DOMS has finally subsided, just in time for me to teach a barre class this afternoon and train lower body in the morning. What do you do to relieve muscle soreness?