Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a common result of training. It’s especially noticeable after doing resistance training but can occur after any workout including a yoga session, bike ride or run. DOMS is caused by a combination of inflammation, micro tears, as well as metabolic acidosis, where hydrogen ions from metabolism accumulate in the muscle. Whilst it’s a good sign that you may have worked hard, it can be a frustrating thing to deal with after a session when you want to get back to training and continue to make progress. However, there are some things you can do, including eating certain foods, foam rolling and stretching, to help reduce muscle soreness. This blog details some tips that you can do to reduce DOMS and help recover from exercise.
Recommendation 1 - Foam roll and stretch after sessions
Getting enough blood flow to muscles following exercise is key to reducing DOMS. This is because blood carries oxygen to our muscles and carries metabolic waste products away. Foam rolling and stretching are both fantastic for increasing blood flow to the muscles to
relieve stiffness, lengthen muscles and improve flexibility. What type of stretches will vary depending on your flexibility, needs and what muscle groups you have worked during your session. For example, some static quad and hamstring stretches would be great following a 5km run, or heavy resistance training session involving squats, deadlifts and lunges. You may want to consider foam rolling; yes - it may feel uncomfortable, but foam rolling is fantastic after a workout to help recovery and ease soreness. Most gyms now have foam rollers available, and you can also purchase them online to have at home. Make sure, however, you practise correct technique for foam rolling. When using the foam roller, hold pressure on any sensitive areas for at least 20-30 seconds, or until the tension lessens and the muscle starts to relax. It should feel sore, but never painful. Foam roll any muscles worked during a session, ideally for a total of 10-15 minutes.
Recommendation 2 - Use spices in cooking
Spices such as turmeric and ginger act as potent anti-inflammatories to help ease aching muscles. Turmeric supplements are now common in health food stores and pharmacies. However, it’s often best to get what our bodies need from food itself, and only nutritionists or dieticians should make supplement recommendations.
Therefore, try to use more spices in your everyday cooking, for example, by making a quick turmeric curry the evening after you've had a good training session.
Recommendation 3 - Snack on berries
Berries are packed with vitamin C as well as polyphenols, both of which are believed to work as powerful antioxidants. The body’s antioxidant system functions to remove harmful free radicals, which is important for reducing muscular and cellular damage, especially after
exercise that involves heavy exertion. Try some plain Greek yoghurt with a handful of mixed berries for a post-workout snack that’ll help repair and rebuild muscles whilst minimising any ache. Other foods high in antioxidant vitamin C include citrus fruits (for example oranges, lemons and limes) and leafy green vegetables (such as spinach, kale and broccoli).
Recommendation 4 - Eat nuts and seeds
Selenium is another important component of the body’s antioxidant system, functioning as what’s known as a co-enzyme. Yet, selenium as a nutrient is often overlooked and, as a result, many people could be missing out on its positive effects, including helping to minimise DOMS. Brazil nuts are a great source; a small handful is enough to reach an adult’s recommended daily intake. Nuts and seeds have the added benefit of being high in protein; an absolute essential for the growth and repair of muscles. Moreover, some (walnuts, chia and flaxseeds) are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids which act as powerful
anti-inflammatories. You can reap the nutritional benefits of nuts and seeds by sprinkling some on your morning porridge or lunchtime salad.
Take Home Message
DOMS is caused by a combination of inflammation, micro tears and metabolic acidosis in muscles following exercise. However, spices, nuts, seeds and berries are great supermarket buys that can help reduce these effects and combined with stretching & foam rolling will get you ready to smash your next workout.
Hopefully you'll be thankful for the faster and less painful recovery you experience with these simple but effective tips.
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