Sometimes the worse thing that can hinder a weekly workout routine is soreness. Believe it or not working out should never feel like a death sentence. I think the attitude you bring to a workout determines whether it’ll be great or not and many of times I’ve had a bad workout all because my soreness put me in a bad mood. I have bad chronic lower back pain that shows up anytime I have less then 8 hours of sleep (imagine the hell I went through in college) and from years of dancing sometimes my knee gives out to the point where I feel twice my age. But there’s definitely no time for me to sit around and cry about it, so in order to avoid being out of commission for a week I’ve learned some body upkeep tips.
First and foremost prior to working out, whether your professional or not, everyone should embrace the power of vitamins and antioxidants. I love vitamins and receive my daily dose of antioxidants by drinking green or white tea at least three times a day. Vitamin C and antioxidants are great for reducing soreness before it even occurs. In addition to green tea, try blueberries and artichokes as a pre and post workout snack. Also go heavy on the citrus fruits for much needed Vitamin C.
It is NOT sexy to hold up a line behind you because your too sore to walk up the stairs at a normal pace, as is the case for me when I teach multiple times a week. All this crap about being sore meant you had a good workout is taking away from the concern that your sore because your body is trying to tell you something, and often times its not saying “good job on burning me out everyday last week!”. Everything I write about, I’ve been a victim of myself. Prior to joining the fitness world, I was a dancer and was conditioned to think that if I was sore that meant I had a good practice. Which isn’t a bad thing, however it lead me to strive to work my body to a point where I would get sore. If I wasn’t then I wrongly assumed I hadn’t pushed myself enough.
Anytime you try a new workout routine or exercise move that your body isn’t well adapted to, you will most likely experience some type of soreness. However, excessive soreness is a sign that you increased your workout intensity too quickly or didn’t give your body enough recovery time. Another type of soreness is DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness that usually peaks following 24-48 hours after your workout. If you experience DOMS like many of us do, it’s time to kick in the following post-workout body care in gear.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Before, during and after your workout because hydration is the easiest way to help your body recover post-workout.
Cool Down. If you ever taken any type of fitness class, be it Bootcamp or Zumba, you know the importance of a cool down. It’s beyond crucial and you should dump any fitness instructors or personal trainers that work with you and don’t encourage you to do a cool down. It’s dangerous to just abruptly stop an intense workout and head back to the locker room. This causes your heart rate to go from a high rate to a low rate at a dangerous speed which can lead to further complications. Blood circulation is necessary to muscle recovery and can be achieved through a light walk, stretch or bike ride following an intense workout routine. Another way to get your blood flowing after you’ve properly lowered your heart rate is a cooling ice bath following an intense weight training. I personally have not experienced ice baths as I’m extremely adverse to anything cold besides ice cream and margaritas however I know many college athletes who’ve said this works wonders.
Massage out the Kinks. Here’s an easy tip, take a tennis ball, soak it in water and throw it in the freezer before you workout. When you return, kneed out your sore calf muscles or lower back by rolling back and forth over the cold tennis ball. Another great tip is to run out to your nearest Wal-mart or Whole Foods and buy some peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary or lavender oil. Combine it with the same amount of water into a class bowl and warm it up. (You might need two bottles if you purchase the small bottles). Soak a small cloth in the mixture and gently rub the mixture along your sore muscles. Then continue to massage the oil into your skin. (Also be sure to save your left over mixture).
Peppermint and rosemary oil is great for overall aches, leg cramps, fatigue or spasms. Lavender is great for sprains and tendinitis and Eucalyptus is great for fatigue and overall relaxation. Click here for more essential oils to use for muscle relief.
Refuel. Post-workout snacks are crucial to refuel your body and aid in recovery following a workout. In college, after going to the gym everyone went to the cafeteria (think all-you-can-eat buffet style). We were starving after working out and granted it was hard not to stuff your face with bad food after coming from the gym, but its just what you did in college. Great snacks include fruit, celery sticks, protein bars, granola, chocolate milk (this is what college athletes are encouraged to drink following practice), whole wheat toast, cereal or a fruit smoothie. More snack ideas here, but if your looking more for a post-workout meal, check out the recipes below and follow the link to the recipe.