BY MARK KINI
With summer on our doorstep, many of us have started or amped up the process of getting back into shape and shedding those extra pounds that tend to accumulate in the months we’re buried in coats and layers.I recently discovered after turning 54 that my ability to outrun Father Time has become more difficult. The days of going to the gym for hours without warming up and getting proper rest are behind me. Everything I do now during weight training is with intention, and listening to what my body is telling me is key. Before I tell you my secret to winning the race, let’s break down one of the critical elements related to training: muscle soreness.
Whether you are a beginner or someone who exercises regularly, muscle soreness is part of the process. Overexertion and soreness are more likely to occur after physical activity that differs from normal. This could be due to exercising more often than usual, doing higher intensity or longer workouts, or introducing new exercises to a routine.
Muscle soreness, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is a common experience that occurs after engaging in physical activity. The exact cause is not fully understood, but it is thought to be the result of small tears or damage to muscle fibers that occur during exercise. As the body repairs this damage, it can lead to inflammation and soreness in the affected muscles. While a bit of discomfort is relatively expected, extensive pain that lasts for more than a few days is not (and might be a sign of greater injury).
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So how do you set yourself up for success to outrun Father Time? Below are 10 of the most impactful aspects I have found in my ability to recover from my training:
- Hydrate: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to replenish fluids lost through sweating.
- Stretch: After exercising, spend some time dynamic stretching to help prevent pain and improve flexibility.
- Rest: Sleep is important for exercise recovery. During periods of rest, the body repairs and rebuilds muscles that have been damaged during exercise. Getting enough restful sleep is therefore essential for proper exercise recovery.
- Refuel: Eat a healthy, balanced meal or snack within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. Include protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to help your body recover.
- Massage: Consider getting a massage or using a foam roller to help alleviate muscle soreness and improve circulation.
- Ice: If you experience discomfort or inflammation, consider using ice packs or cold compresses to help reduce swelling and promote healing.
- Take a Break: Don’t push yourself too hard. If you’re feeling fatigued or sore, take a break from exercise for a day or two to allow your body to recover, or do gentle/low-impact exercises like walking.
Use Cold to Your Advantage: Cold plunges, also known as cold baths or ice baths, involve immersing your body in cold water for a brief period. While cold plunges can be uncomfortable, there are several potential benefits to this practice, including:
- Reducing inflammation: Cold water immersion can help decrease inflammation in the body, which can be beneficial for people with conditions like arthritis or muscle strains.
- Improving circulation: The cold water causes blood vessels to constrict and then dilate, which can help increase blood flow to the muscles and other tissues.
- Boosting immune function: Some studies suggest that an ice bath can help enhance the immune system by increasing levels of certain immune cells in the body.
- Reducing muscle soreness: Cold plunges may help aid in recovery after exercise.
- Improving mood: The cold dip can also trigger the release of endorphins, which can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Light Therapy: Infrared saunas emit infrared light, which is absorbed by the skin and penetrates deeper into the body’s tissues than traditional saunas. Some of the potential benefits of using an infrared sauna include:
- Relaxation: The heat from an infrared sauna can help calm the body and promote feelings of relaxation and well-being.
- Improved circulation: Infrared saunas can increase blood flow and circulation, which can help fight muscle soreness, improve skin health, and even lower blood pressure.
- Detoxification: Sweating is one of the body’s natural ways of detoxifying, and using an infrared lights can help increase sweat production and flush out toxins.
- Pain relief: Infrared heat can help reduce swelling and inflammation in the body, making it a potential therapy for conditions like arthritis or muscle strains.
- Improved skin health: Infrared saunas can help collagen production, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and improve overall skin tone.
- Weight loss: While not a replacement for healthy eating and exercise habits, using this type of sauna can help boost metabolism and burn calories.
Compression: Pneumatic compression is a type of therapy that uses compressed air to apply pressure to different parts of the body, typically the legs, in order to improve circulation and promote lymphatic drainage. This type of therapy can have several benefits, including:
- Improved circulation: The application of pressure helps to increase blood flow to the affected area, which can reduce swelling and boost overall circulation.
- Reduced pain: Pneumatic compression can help to alleviate the discomfort associated with conditions like lymphedema and DVT.
- Increased lymphatic drainage: The pressure applied to the limb can help stimulate the lymphatic system, which can reduce swelling and improve immune function.
- Enhanced recovery: Pneumatic compression therapy can be used to aid in recovery after surgery or injury by reducing inflammation and promoting circulation.
Remember, recovery is just as important as exercise itself, and taking care of your body after a workout can help you stay healthy and avoid injury. Movement is very important, but so too is knowing your limits. [CD0623]
Mark Kini is the President & CEO of Boston Chauffeur. He can be reached at email@example.com.