DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is a necessary evil in building stronger muscles and gaining strength and stamina. Most of us find that post-workout soreness satisfying evidence of a good sweat sesh – but up to a certain point. Those of us who’ve been forced to use the grab bars in the bathroom stall after Legs & Butt Day know that there can be too much of a good thing.
Most of us already know about stretching, foam rolling, massages and popping NSAIDS, but here are some other suggestions that fly under the fitness radar.
1. DRINK CAFFEINE
Is there nothing that coffee can’t do? Studies show that caffeine can boost your athletic performance and endurance, but did you know that it can also reduce the effect of DOMS by nearly 50%?! That’s more effective than traditional NSAIDS like naproxen (the active ingredient in Aleve) at 30% or aspirin at 25%. The experts recommend a moderate amount, the equivalent of two cups, prior to your sweat sesh.
2. TART CHERRY JUICE
Recent research published in the American College of Sports Medicine: “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise” showed that tart cherry juice helped athletes recover quicker from tough workouts. But that’s just one of the super powers of this super food.
Matt Maggiacomo, trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp NYC, can’t recommend it highly enough, “My new obsession is Organic Tart Cherry Juice concentrate. 2 tablespoons of it mixed with soda water or seltzer, twice a day: once in the a.m. and an hour before bed, will help you battle post-workout muscle soreness, target belly fat and boosts melatonin to help you sleep. I’m hooked on the stuff because it really does work.”
Researchers attributed the recovery benefits to the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compounds in cherries known as anthocyanins – which is also responsible for cherries’ bright red color. If it’s hard to drink tart cherry juice, fresh cherries or dried cherries added to your morning oatmeal or yogurt is a great, healthy way to add this super food to your diet.
3. OMEGA -3 FATTY ACIDS
The benefits of fish oil extend way beyond cardiovascular health. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fish oil fatty acids may help decrease joint and muscle pains after a hard gym session. Eat more fish like tuna or salmon for a protein-packed, post-workout recovery meal, or if fish isn’t your thing, you can take fish oil supplements.
Coromega 3 Fish Oil is a product we LOVE. It comes in easy squeeze packets in yummy tropical orange, lemon-lime, mango and orange-chocolate flavors. Absolutely no fishy after taste and much easier to swallow than those giant pills.
Creatine is an amino acid produced in your liver which helps supply energy to cells all over your body, particularly muscle tissue. In fact, 95% of your body’s creatine is stored in your skeletal muscle tissue. So it makes sense that more creatine in your body would help repair and build those muscles you’ve been working so hard in the gym.
Barry’s Bootcamp LA Trainer Torrey Drake is a big believer in creatine supplements: “Creatine is used to store water in muscle tissue and causes rapid reproduction of ATP, which is basically your muscle’s energy system. There are dozens of creatine suppliers out there and I’ve had plenty of clients who use it to prevent muscle soreness.”
Sore muscles? Put a pin in it. Acupuncture has long been proven as a potent pain reliever for acute injuries, but studies also show that acupuncture works wonders for sore, overworked muscles.
According to Marin L. Kokin, a National Diplomate in Acupuncture Orthopedics, “Acupuncture is an excellent way to improve blood flow to the muscle tissue – this prevents stiffness and pain from occurring.”
Minsun Park is a blogger, writer and a black belt in taekwondo who gets her ass handed to her daily by her two sons. She’s written for iVillage, SheKnows, ePregnancy and is featured in “The Hot Mom’s Handbook” by Jessica Denay. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter: @MinsunPark