T he ‘No Pain No Gain’ mantra has been around for decades and it relates to the muscle soreness most people experience after a heavy workout session. However, did you know that this pain doesn’t have to be inevitable?
Pain is often a sense of pride for gym goers. Figuring out how much pain is OK and how much is too much doesn’t have to be a guessing game.
It’s when you feel pain in your working muscles at the start of a rep or set, pain in your joints, or pain in non-targeted muscles that you should stop. It could be a warning sign of injured muscles, tendons, or ligaments. “The reality is, you shouldn’t have any discomfort except for muscle fatigue,”
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to feel pain in order to know you’ve had an effective fitness session. Below you’ll discover some of the best ways to prevent muscle soreness after exercise.
Keeping the body hydrated
The best thing you can do to reduce the chances of developing sore muscles after exercise is to ensure you stay hydrated. The cells of the muscles need water and when you exercise, you lose a lot of that water through sweating. So unless you top up those water levels during and after your workout, dehydration will occur. This is largely what contributes towards exercise-related muscle soreness.
Be sure to warm up and cool down properly
You’ve likely heard that warming up before a workout is extremely important. However, many people fail to adequately warm up the muscles before exposing them to strenuous exercise. Not only does this increase the risk of injury, but it will also leave you feeling very sore afterward. Stretching is a particularly great way of preventing soreness and has been proven to help in a German study back in 1995. In fact, the study even showed that not stretching before and after exercise can aggravate muscle soreness. The cooldown is just as important as the warm-up.
The importance of nutrition
Did you know that what you eat has a massive impact on how you feel after exercise? Your body needs a good level of nutrition in order to recover properly. Certain types of foods can help with muscle repair and ideally, you need to focus on what you’re eating at least a day before you exercise. A general rule that will help is to consume 40% protein, 20% fats and 40% carbs the day before. On the actual exercise day, you should also be eating a high protein, complex carbohydrate, and good fat diet.
These are just three ways to prevent aching after exercise. Of course, it’s also important not to push your body past its limits. Trying to do too much too soon will aggravate the muscles and lead to a lot more pain than you should experience after working out.