Need to Treat Sore Muscles?
We know that training hard and participating in regular exercise has a host of health benefits. Not to mention that it can cause considerable changes to our body, making us feel better as a result. Unfortunately, there can be some downsides associated with all this hard work. These are the tips you need to treat sore muscle!
Treat sore muscles with these tips
For those of us who exercise regularly, it is not uncommon to experience some muscle tightness. This can occur in both the upper and lower body, and at times can even become slightly painful or irritable.
More of a concern, if these tight muscles are left untreated, they can lead to poor movement and even injury.
Moreover, these tight muscles can start to perform poorly, limiting our ability to exercise effectively, which can in turn reduce or inhibit potential increases in muscle growth and muscular strength.
Fortunately for us tight muscles are not a death sentence. There are a number of things we can do to reduce the tension in our muscle tissue. This can lead to improved movement, reduced pain, and even improve muscle growth and strength development.
The following list outlines the 7 best ways to relax and treat sore muscles!
Now, this may seem like one of the most obvious answers on this list, but that does not make it any less effective! Getting deep tissue or remedial massage has the potential to reduce the tension of tight muscles AND break up adhesion in muscle tissue that occur in response to prolonged sedentary activity.
This can lead to improved flexibility, increased range of motion, better muscle quality, and of course reduced tightness.
Massage has shown to improve the recovery of damaged muscle tissue, while also making us feel better, immediately after its completion. And more importantly, these changes in tissue quality can last for weeks after the massage!
Now, self-myofascial release (also known as SMR) effectively describes a type of massage that we perform on ourselves. This can be accomplished through the use of a variety of tools, including foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and even barbells!
SMR has been shown to improve flexibility and muscle quality by reducing the amount of neural stimulus that tight muscles receive. This can go a very long way to improve the neural tone of tight muscle tissue, improving muscle quality.
It is important to note that SMR is slightly less effective than massage because it is by nature, self-limiting. But, on the other hand, it is free!
This is best performed immediately after exercise, during your cool down. Ideally this is completed lying down, with your knees bent to a 90 degree angle, and your feet flat on the floor.
The protocol is extremely simple, just breathe in and out, taking a full 4 seconds to inhale and a full 4 seconds to exhale. Focus on controlling your breathing, ensuring that you are breathing deep into your stomach each and every breath. This should be performed for 20-25 breaths.
Deep breathing increases the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is known to reduce muscle tension and the neural activity of tight muscle tissue.
Each stretch should be held for between 30 and 60 seconds to maximize the effectiveness of stretching on our muscle tissue. Furthermore, stretching should be performed immediately after a workout when the muscles are warm and most receptive to stretching protocols.
Tight muscle groups should be the predominant focus. (Common areas of muscle tightness are the quads, hip flexors, calves, pecs, and lats).
Low Intensity Aerobic Exercise
Light aerobic activity can promote blood flow to our muscle tissue, while also increasing the temperature of that muscle tissue. On rest days, in between our heavier weight session, light aerobic activity such as cycling or walking can be one of the best ways to promote recovery and improve muscle flexibility.
This in turn can lead to reductions in muscle tightness and markedly improve tissue quality.
Light aerobic activity does need to be just that – light – This means a small walk, or a very light ride or jog. It does NOT mean a short interval session or some hill sprints – these sorts of activities are much too intense to promote recovery!
This may sound a little left field, but hear me out.
Sleeping is absolutely essential to the recovery of both our mental and physical tissue. Without sleep we see significant declines in both our cognitive and physical performance. This also includes reductions in muscle tissue quality, and subsequent increases in muscle tightness.
By ensuring we get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each and every night we can maximize the rate at which our body recovers from exercise, causing significant improvements in flexibility and range of motion.
Drink More Green tea
Green tea is one of the most commonly drunk beverages in the world, frequently applauded for its role in weight management and cognitive function.
Less known is the impact that green tea can have on muscle tissue. Green tea contains a substance known as L-theanine, which is an amino acid that increases the secretion of dopamine and serotonin. Both of these hormones are known to reduce input from the sympathetic nervous system, relaxing muscle tissue.
By drinking green tea regular we can see serious reductions in muscle tightness and subsequent improvements in muscle flexibility.
While muscle tightness is in reality an almost unavoidable repercussion of regular exercise, it can be reduced significantly through a number of different modalities.
By undertaking the regular massage (or SMR) and stretching of tight muscle tissue, we can cause positive changes to that muscle tissue, leading to improvements in tissue quality and reduced muscle tightness.
By practicing deep breathing, ensuring a high quality sleep, and participating in low intensity physical activity, we can activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which we know can lead to large improvements in muscle tightness.
Finally, by drinking green tea regularly we can stimulate hormonal changes that can relax muscle tissue, causing significant improvements in muscle quality!
If you want to treat sore muscles, try these methods and let us know if it decreased your muscle tension.
Demmy James is a fitness buff as well as strength and conditioning specialist. He is a content contributor at Muscle & Strength
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