Oh My Aching Muscles! What can I do?
Working out has great benefits, but it also has a few downsides, one of which is sore muscles. When you work out you do a little damage to the fiber of the muscles, and that causes them to feel sore when they heal. There are, however, things you can do to help lessen the effects or prevent sore muscles, such as eating very specific types of foods to help strengthen your body’s ability to heal.
Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles. Your muscles will use a lot of protein to heal themselves after a tough workout, and the more protein you can get into your system before and after a workout the better. Not only will it help with building up your muscles, those proteins will increase the healing process. The speed at which the muscles recover from damage, is directly related to how much protein is available to them.
Easting foods which are high in protein is the most consistent way to do this. If you work out on a regular basis, using a protein supplement or shake would help out a lot as well, by giving your body concentrated amounts of proteins when you need them most.
Foods you want to eat include:
Potassium a mineral and electrolyte found in many foods, plays a vital part in muscle contraction. Potassium also helps maintain your heartbeat. Adults need 2,000 mg of potassium per day. As people age, they often develop elevated potassium levels, called hyperkalemia, because the kidneys don’t excrete potassium as effectively as they once did. Many foods contain both potassium and protein, necessary to build new tissue and repair tissue and cell breakdowns. You need around 60 g of protein per day.
Meat, Poultry and Fish
All types of meat, poultry and fish supply large amounts of protein to your diet. An average 3-oz. serving supplies between 18 and 30 g of protein, depending on whether you’re eating beef, pork, lamb or different types of fish. Meats especially high in protein include lamb and veal, each with around 31-g per serving. Most meats also supply a healthy amount of potassium per serving, with 3 oz. of salmon containing 319 mg, lean beef supplying 224 mg and dark turkey meat containing 259 mg, all per 3-oz. serving.
Many beans serve as excellent sources of both protein and potassium. Beans also serve as a good source of protein, with dried peas, lentils and pinto beans supplying between 8 and 9 g per 1/2-cup serving. Soybeans serve as a complete source of protein, since they contain all the necessary amino acids. Some beans contain only a portion of the amino acids needed to make up a complete protein. Soybeans supply around 14 g of protein and 486 mg of potassium per 1/2-cup serving. Vegetarians, in particular, rely on beans to meet their protein needs. Beans that supply high amounts of potassium include dried peas, with 355 mg, lentils, with 365 mg and pinto beans with 400 mg, all in a 1/2-cup serving.
Plain low-fat yogurt contains around 12 g of protein per 8-oz. serving, while supplying around 500 mg of potassium. A cup of 2 percent milk contains 377 mg of potassium and 8 g of protein. A cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains 26 g of protein and 217 g of potassium.
Whether or not you work out on a regular basis, not having enough potassium in your system can cause you to get sore muscles from normal, everyday activities. When the muscles are worked, they build up lactic acid and this can cause cramping and sore muscles. For those of you who work out or are athletes, you will need to have more potassium in your system to prevent soreness than a non-athlete.
There are many sports drinks which help replace electrolytes, but they’re not an adequate source of potassium for the level of activity from a workout. Essentially, you need about one banana per hour of exercise, as this will provide enough potassium to prevent sore muscles and cramping. Foods to eat for potassium include:
Fruits and Vegetables
Spinach, broccoli and chinese cabbage are low carbohydrate vegetables which, according to the National Kidney Foundation, are are also high in potassium. Avocados and tomatoes are low-carb, potassium-rich fruits. To receive the maximum amount of potassium from these foods refrain from cooking or leaching the vegetables or fruits for an extended period.
Almonds and sunflower seeds are naturally occurring low carbohydrate foods which are also good sources of potassium & these fat sources are high in protein.
Paprika fruit is rich in potassium and low in carbohydrates. The spice can assist low-carb dieters by playing the role of a seasoning agent. Sprinkle paprika on meats, vegetables or even fruits to create the feeling of being full and increase your potassium intake.
Lots of Water
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how often we’re dehydrated and don’t even know it. The human body is about 75% water, with your muscles at 80% water. When you work out, you burn through that water pretty quickly. Water is essential to every single cell in your body and without enough, your cells are less protected and more prone to soreness after a workout. Dehydration is the most common ailment in the human race, and it is easily prevented. Drink up!
Your muscles should feel sore on some days after you exercise. If you go out and jog the same two miles at the same pace, day after day, you will never become faster, stronger or have greater endurance.
If you stop lifting weights when your muscles start to burn, you won’t feel sore on the next day and you will not become stronger. All improvement in any muscle function comes from stressing and recovering.
On one day, you go out and exercise hard enough to make your muscles burn during exercise. The burning is a sign that you are damaging your muscles. On the next day, your muscles feel sore because they are damaged and need time to recover. Scientist call this DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness.
It takes at least eight hours to feel this type of soreness. You finish a workout and feel great; then you get up the next morning and your exercised muscles feel sore. We used to think that next-day muscle soreness is caused by a buildup of lactic acid in muscles, but now we know that lactic acid has nothing to do it.
Next-day muscle soreness is caused by damage to the muscle fibers themselves. Muscle biopsies taken on the day after hard exercise show bleeding and disruption of the z-band filaments that hold muscle fibers together as they slide over each other during a contraction.
Scientists can tell how much muscle damage has occurred by measuring blood levels of a muscle enzyme called CPK. CPK is normally found in muscles and is released into the bloodstream when muscles are damaged. Those exercisers who have the highest post-exercise blood levels of CPK often have the most muscle soreness.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) describes a phenomenon of muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness that occurs in the day or two after exercise. This muscle soreness is most frequently felt when you begin a new exercise program, change your exercise routine, or dramatically increase the duration or intensity of your exercise routine.
Although it can be alarming for new exercisers, delayed onset muscle soreness is a normal response to unusual exertion and is what leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover and build hypertrophy.
This sort of muscle pain is not the same as the muscle pain or fatigue you experience during exercise. Delayed soreness is also unlike the acute, sudden and sharp pain of an injury such as a muscle strains or sprain that occurs during activity and often causes swelling or bruising. The delayed muscle soreness of DOMS is generally at its worst within the first 2 days following a new, intense activity and slowly subsides over the next few days.
What Causes Muscle Soreness After Exercise?
Delayed onset muscle soreness is thought to be a result of microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers. The amount of tearing (and soreness) depends on how hard and how long you exercise and what type of exercise you do. Any movement you aren’t used to can lead to DOMS, but eccentric muscle contractions (movements that cause muscle to forcefully contract while it lengthens) seem to cause the most soreness. Examples of eccentric muscle contractions include going down stairs, running downhill, lowering weights and the downward motion of squats and push-ups. In addition to small muscle tears there can be associated swelling in a muscle which may contribute to soreness.
Tips for Dealing with Muscle Soreness After Exercise
- Use Active Recovery: This strategy does have support in the research. Performing easy low-impact aerobic exercise increasing blood flow and is linked with diminished muscle soreness. After an intense workout or competition, use this technique as a part of your cool down.
- Rest and Recover: If you simply wait it out, soreness will go away in 3 to 7 days with no special treatment.
- Try a Sports Massage: Some research has found that sports massage may help reduce reported muscle soreness and reduce swelling, although it had no effects on muscle function.
- Try an Ice Bath or Contrast Water Bath: Although no clear evidence proves they are effective, many pro athletes use them and claim they work
- Perform Gentle Stretching: Although research doesn’t find stretching alone reduces muscle pain of soreness, many people find it simply feels good. Foam Rollers are Fabulous
- Try Yoga: There is growing support that performing Yoga may reduce DOMS.
- Listen to Your Body: Avoid any vigorous activity or exercise that increases pain.
- Allow the soreness to subside thoroughly before performing any vigorous exercise.
- Warm Up: completely before your next exercise session. There is some research that supports that a warm-up performed immediately prior to unaccustomed eccentric exercise produces small reductions in delayed-onset muscle soreness (but cool-down performed after exercise does not)
- ** If your pain persists longer than about 7 days or increases despite these measures, consult your physician.
- Learn something from the experience! Use prevention first.
Approved by Sean Marszalek CEO SDC Nutrition, Inc