Muscle soreness after a workout is a common response to exercise. When your muscles work hard, they will naturally feel tired, but they will eventually become stronger as your body recovers. That is quite normal.
When the slightly annoying ache becomes borderline painful or even incapacitating, your body is telling you it’s time to slow down.
To improve muscle recovery, it’s important to understand what’s causing the post-exercise discomfort known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
What is DOMS, and how long does it last after working out?
DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, describes the muscular pain and stiffness that occurs after a heavy workload. Experts believe it is caused by the small tears in your muscle fibres that occur while working out.
The pain usually starts between 12 and 24 hours after your workout and peaks between 24 and 72 hours after the training stimulus.
What relieves muscle soreness after a strenuous workout?
While no single food or nutrient can prevent muscle soreness, eating a well-balanced diet that includes some of the foods listed below may aid in muscle recovery after your next gym session.
Best foods for muscle soreness and recovery
1. Tart cherry juice
Drinking tart cherry juice may benefit both trained athletes and novice gym-goers alike. Studies show that tart cherry juice and tart cherry juice extract might facilitate muscle recovery and mitigate DOMS. Tart cherry juice is high in plant compounds called anthocyanins. They have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and as such, they may reduce perceived soreness and exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD).
One 2021 review of 25 studies, 15 of which focused on tart cherry juice, found that drinking tart cherry juice accelerated muscle recovery, reduced DOMS, and lowered markers of inflammation after exercise.
Watermelon is sweet, hydrating, and loaded with nutrients. What’s more, eating watermelon or sipping on watermelon juice could be a good way to promote muscle recovery after exercise.
Watermelon is rich in the amino acid L-citrulline. Besides being a building block for proteins, this amino acid may have antioxidant effects and increase the production of nitric oxide(NO). NO enhances blood circulation to muscles and improves cellular energy. This could be why some studies show that watermelon juice might reduce muscle soreness and muscle damage post-exercise.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Add sweet potatoes to your post-workout meal and you can say goodbye to sore muscles. The starchy vegetable replenishes glycogen stores, which become depleted after a tough workout, and is a great source of beta carotene and vitamin C to keep your body healthy and strong. Bake them on the grill or slice them up and cook in the oven with olive oil and spices. Experiment with lots of salt and pepper, garlic, paprika, chilli powder, garlic powder, and/or cinnamon.
Spinach is hard to beat when it comes to nutrient-dense foods! Spinach is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K1, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
When you exercise and sweat profusely, you must replenish the electrolytes you have lost. Spinach is a great food to eat to help your body recover because it is high in key electrolytes like potassium and magnesium.
Spinach is great for savoury breakfast dishes, as well as many lunch and dinner dishes (think salads, pasta, bakes, casseroles, and risotto), but it can also be blended into a smoothie! It’s simple to incorporate into your day, no matter when you prefer to exercise.
Bananas are a fantastic source of carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium and fibre. They’re a great choice if you’re working out regularly because they provide a quick source of energy, as well as some essential vitamins and minerals.
Due to their high potassium content eating bananas can help to reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness. Potassium helps muscles to contract, and cramps or muscle weakness can be a sign you’re not getting enough.
Bananas make a great snack or can be turned into something more hearty. Think smoothies, on porridge or toast, or topped with some nut butter – yum!
With its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is a no-brainer, go-to muscle recovery food. Turmeric helps in healing wounds and injuries. It is also effective in reducing discomfort linked with DOMS, decreasing the impact of injury, and also improving muscle performance. Compounds in this spice help reduce muscle damage and inflammation, and promote muscle repair, guaranteeing a higher level of athletic performance.
Curcumin also eases pain and swelling by blocking the effects of pro-inflammatory enzymes and chemical pain messengers. One must add a considerable amount of curcumin-loaded turmeric to eggs, smoothies, and milk to get the best result.
Try this turmeric milk
7. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese contains two types of protein: whey and casein. While whey protein is best known for quickly replenishing muscles post-workout, casein is a much slower-acting protein, making cottage cheese an ideal snack before [you work out] because it allows your muscles to recover even while you sleep.
Cottage cheese is also high in live cultures (good bacteria), which aid in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients that can help you grow bigger and stronger. For breakfast or a midday snack, eat it plain or with fruit.
Cacao has high levels of antioxidants, magnesium, and B-vitamins to reduce stress in our bodies related to exercise, balance electrolytes, and boost energy levels. Those antioxidants, called flavanols, are even able to boost the production of nitrous oxide in your body, causing your blood vessel walls to relax and open—lowering blood pressure and promoting overall health.
Add some cacao nibs to your smoothie, or add a scoop of cacao powder into a glass of milk post-workout.
Protein is the most important building block of muscles, and adding a few sources of protein like eggs to your diet may help reduce the danger of developing DOMS. Moreover, the protein one can get from an egg is completely suited to fighting soreness and encouraging healthy muscle growth.
A single egg contains about 6 grams of protein. One can also get important vitamins and minerals, precisely vitamins A, E and K along with vitamin B through regular consumption of eggs. Eggs are also an amazing source of leucine, which is associated with muscle recuperation.
A small body of research indicates a link between dehydration and increased muscle soreness and DOMS. While more research is needed, researchers and practitioners have hypothesised that if dehydration increases soreness, then increased hydration levels can reduce it.
The main theory here is that water aids in the removal of waste products. He explains that when muscles break down, they release waste products and toxins that must be filtered out of the body, and these waste products are linked to increased soreness.
Non-dietary remedies for aching muscles
Other factors, in addition to foods and beverages, can promote muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
1. Enjoy some light movement.
Yes, this sucks. But if you’re sore and you decide you’re not going to get off the couch, that’s the worst thing you can do. This is because activity increases circulation, improving blood flow throughout the body.
Again, this doesn’t mean you should go back to your regularly scheduled workout programming—we’re talking gentle activity, like going for a walk or hopping onto a recumbent bike. Light means superlight since you don’t want to do more damage to the muscle fibres, as we mentioned above.
2. Do some light stretching.
Again, the keyword is light. Stretching can be a great way to release tightness and increase your range of motion when you’re sore—which can make you feel better, even though it’s not healing the tears in your muscles or making them repair any faster. This can help increase your range of motion, and, since your muscles are already warm, it can feel easier to get in that good stretch.
3. Make protein the star of your meals.
Protein is a critical nutrient for building and maintaining muscle, so it plays a huge role in helping your muscles recover from a tough workout. While you should be eating enough protein all the time to prevent recurring or long-lasting soreness from your workouts. This doesn’t mean excessively high amounts of protein, necessarily. While needs vary, people who work out should aim for about 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
4. Try heat or ice to ease the pain.
The debate between heat therapy and cold therapy is ongoing, but when it comes down to it, it’s just about what feels good to you—for the most part, the effects are temporary. But when you’re super sore, any fleeting relief (as long as it’s safe) is worth it.
Ice can help reduce the swelling that sometimes comes along with extreme soreness. Bringing the swelling down can help reduce some pain-causing tension. However, heat can also minimize tension and pain signals. So if relaxing in a warm bath makes you feel better, do that.
Also read : 7 Worst Post-Workout Foods To Avoid