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Muscle Recovery: 3 Best tips

Feb 4, 2015

Muscle Recovery: 3 Best tips

We have all had that feeling where it hurts to move. Where your legs are so tight you can’t even think of standing up, or when you are trying to sit down (the worst is getting on and off a toilet). So what is someone supposed to do when they are a hurting pup and don’t want to move?

Studies show that [1] muscle damage doesn't really correlate to soreness. This experiment compared electrical muscle stimulation (ES) with voluntary contractions, and found that the ES protocol created far more muscle fiber 'damage'.

However, the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) experienced by the two groups wasn't any different. The pain of DOMS was actually attributed to the inflammation of the extracellular matrix – which is connective tissue that binds the muscle fibers together.

So you might be asking Bill what the hell does that all mean? Wellllllll what this study shows is that 24-72 hours after a workout, DOMS occurs and is the inflammation of the muscle and the connective tissue. So the workout is making you sore sure, but it is the recovery process the makes the difference how sore you are. (Don’t worry inflammation isn’t a bad thing, but we will get to that later.)

Below are the top 3 best things for muscle recovery to help you get back on your feet and mobile.

#1 Sleep
We were just talking about how you don’t want to move and how everything hurts, sleep is one of the best ways to recover from muscle soreness. Everyone has to let their own body relax and let it heal itself. Inflammation is the act of your body repairing itself after a strenuous activity. Have you ever had a cut or fallen and the area felt warm to the touch? Now some inflammation is good while too much could be extremely painful such as putting pressure on joints. So especially after a hard workout (or lots of shoveling in recent weeks) make sure you get your 8 hours to let your body help the recovery process.

#2 Stretching
Everyone says stretching is good for you, but did you know that there are certain types stretching that can be better than others? Self-myofascial Release (SMR) stretching is one of the best things in my opinion to do for sore muscles and to help your muscles recover. [2] It aims to relax contracted muscles, improve blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulate the stretch reflex in muscles.
The most common way to do SMR stretching is with a foam roller. I have a love hate relationship with the foam roller (whereas most of my clients just hate it), but we can’t discount the benefit of it on how it helps us to recover and get back into the game that is fitness. Try it on a rest day or during your warmup to see if it helps you. Great article all about foam rolling and techniques.

#3 Movement
And on the 3rd day of shoveling in a row I thought god was smiting us for the first 10 minutes or so, but after a while my body loosened up and it wasn’t that bad. Being somewhat active even on your off day helps your muscles and joints get rid of any waste that has built up, while also lubricating our joints with synovial fluid (basically the WD-40 of the human body). Now I’m am not talking a full blown workout, but some kind of movement or cross training to help us stay active and still let our muscles recover. My personal favorite used to be playing ping pong to get a little sweat and not kill myself in the process.

Soreness isn’t going to go away anytime soon and it can last for days depending on what you did. So when you feel soreness coming on remember these three tips to help with muscle recovery and it’ll make a world of difference.

[1] Crameri, R. M., Aagaard, P., Qvortrup, K., Langberg, H., Olesen, J. and Kjaer, M. (2007). Myofibre damage in human skeletal muscle: effects of electrical stimulation versus voluntary contraction. J. Physiol. 583, 365-380.

[2] DiGiovanna, Eileen; Schiowitz, Stanley; Dowling, Dennis J. (2005) [1991]. "Ch. 12: Myofascial (Soft Tissue) Techniques". An Osteopathic Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 80–2.


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