A Little Muscle Soreness Can Go A Long Way
Many of us know the pain that can come with an intense or new workout. For a long time this pain was attributed to lactic acid buildup; lactic acid was considered a waste product responsible for post workout pain. However, recent research has debunked this myth.
Lactic acid is actually a muscle fueler and is the product of glucose, not the caustic waste product it was once thought to be. It is true that the pain you feel during your workout is a result of lactic acid, however your body flushes it out very quickly, usually an hour after exercising.
The root of your muscle soreness
Like nearly every other problem in the body – is inflammation. When you exercise vigorously, or start a new exercise program which moves the body in ways it’s not used to, you can develop microscopic tears in the muscle fibers and tissues surrounding the muscles. These damaged muscles release chemicals that trigger a mild inflammatory response, which results in a little (or lot) or post workout pain. You are not hurting or damaging your body or muscles with these slight tears; you’re strengthening and lengthening your muscles, preparing them to handle this activity better next time. Remember, if you don’t use your muscles they atrophy, so giving them a little challenge and tough love keeps them strong and you healthy.
How to Deal with it
There are a lot of ways to deal with muscle soreness, including:
- Alternating heat and cold on the area affected
- Stretching (restorative, yin or hatha yoga!)
- Staying hydrated – always drink LOTS of water!
- Optimizing your diet (eating lots of healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein and less carbohydrates)
- Plenty of massages! :)
That being said, there is also research that says exercising through the pain, a little “hair of the dog” if you will, can really work wonders. Obviously listen to your body, if you really feel you need to rest and relax then do that (maybe incorporating a little mild yoga), but if you feel you can, continuing to exercise, albeit less strenuously.
Stop taking ibuprofen!
The one remedy that should be avoided if at all possible is taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen. Use of ibuprofen has been linked to intestinal leakage and systemic inflammation, and because of this it may not even provide relief. Overtime ibuprofen leads to intestinal permeability which can allow bacteria and digestive enzymes to seep into your bloodstream. Ibuprofen can also diminish the absorption of nutrients making it harder for muscles to rebuild.
A little soreness is Okay
We all know the saying “no pain, no gain” right? Well a little muscle soreness is completely natural and actually good – it means your body is getting stronger and more adaptable. That pain is the indication of change, which is exactly what you’re striving for.