You may have heard the saying “No Pain, No Gain” in reference to exercise results. The theory in play here is that if you do not hurt after exercising, you haven’t effectively stressed your body enough to produce any kind of noticeable, physical results. Make no mistake about it, becoming stronger, building more lean muscle, can only happen if you stress your current musculature.
However, you don’t have to feel like you have been stretched out on a medieval torture device like the rack after working out just to produce the results you’re looking for. There are simple ways to prevent sore muscles after exercise. These include steps you take before, during and after your workout that limit the soreness, aches and pains you experience.
Before You Workout
What you do before you exercise impacts how you feel after you are done. One of the most important things to do to lessen sore muscles after a workout is to properly fuel your body before you begin exercising. This means consuming healthy carbohydrates two hours before any strenuous exercise. You should also drink plenty of water before you hit the gym, treadmill or swimming pool.
What type of food should you be eating? Whole grains and pastas, fruits and vegetables are rich in healthy carbohydrates that produce fuel for your exercise. You should also drink plenty of water. Give your body enough of the right types of fuel, and your muscles suffer less when you are through exercising.
During Your Workout
Always practice proper form. Certain exercises require particular movements for a reason. They are designed that way to limit injury, as well as to produce a desired result. When you begin to exercise improperly, your chance of an injury escalates, and you also increase the odds that you will be sore and aching when your workout is done.
Marc David, (personal trainer and contributor for Iron Magazine, a bodybuilding and weightlifting periodical) recommends cool-down and warm-up periods between sets of exercises for minimizing muscle soreness. He also suggests stretching any muscles you are about to work out, and breathing deeply before a set. You should also alternate the days you target specific muscle groups.
After Your Workout
Walking and stretching after exercise can lessen the chance of sore muscles. Staying physically active throughout your week, not just on your exercise days, can also limit muscle soreness. Massage can reduce the pain of sore muscles, as can immersion in cold water. After your workout is over, you should also replace any fluids lost while exercising by drinking plenty of water.