Regular exercise is key to a long and healthy life. If you are physically active, it will be easier for you to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, control your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, manage your mood and reduce your stress, and avoid heart disease and other health issues.
If you want to begin a regular exercise routine, there are several things that you have to know prior to starting so as to not hurt or injure yourself. Many beginners suffer from severe muscle soreness after only their first workout session mainly because they fail to observe the proper precautions to avoid sore muscles before, during, and after their workout.
Below are six tips on how you can prevent muscle soreness post-workout:
Stretch and warm-up before starting
Fitness experts say that doing a stretching and warm-up routine before your workout is necessary, so that you can prepare your body for the main event and reduce the intensity of any post-workout pain and discomfort. By doing simple and gentle dynamic and static stretches, you can gradually loosen up your muscles, increasing blood flow and awakening them for your exercise. Some good examples of stretching and warm-up exercises are:
Standing quad stretch
Stand straight with your feet together. Bend your right knee and use your right hand to pull your right foot toward your buttocks. Stay in that position for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Knee to chest stretch
Lie on your back. Pull your left knee toward your chest, while keeping your right leg extended and straight on the floor. Stay in that position for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Stand straight with your feet together. Extend your arms behind you clasping your hands together. Pull your arms as far back as you can, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for 3 seconds, before going back to starting position. Repeat.
Keep yourself hydrated
Water plays a major role in the proper functioning of your vital body organs and systems. It is also integral in the prevention of muscle cramps, soreness, and inflammation every time you exercise. Before you do your stretching and warm-up routine, during your actual exercise, and after your workout, you should make sure to drink water to help get your body going and replenish the lost electrolytes right away.
Sports drinks and beverages are also popular hydration options, especially if you sweat so much, are doing very vigorous workouts, or working out in hot weather.
Do not overdo it
You have to realize that achieving your fitness goals will take time. You will not lose 10 pounds after only a couple of hours on the treadmill, or lose your belly fat after doing just a week of crunches.
If you are new to exercising, you should not push yourself to exercise for 2 to 3 hours every day. It is okay to start with simple and low-intensity routines, so as to slowly ease your body into this lifestyle change. Why not walk at a leisurely pace for 20 to 30 minutes three times a week in your first month of exercising, and then increase your pace, duration, or frequency in the next months? It is crucial that you do not shock your body so as to avoid injuries.
Take an ice bath
It is common to experience some muscle pains and soreness even after a simple and low-intensity workout, especially if you have lived most of your life as a couch potato. To remedy that, you can take a cold shower right after your exercise.
In fact, in the world of sports, athletes are advised to jump in an ice bath and soak for about 10 minutes to reduce muscle soreness. This practice has been tested and proven effective by numerous clinical studies throughout the years.
So, at home, you can prepare a nice, cold bath and soak in the tub to relax your tired body. You can also just apply an ice pack on specific parts of your body if only a particular area is in pain or feeling sore.
Sore muscles are tensed and tight, and they need to be loosened up to get rid of the pain. To be able to do that, you can use heat. You can use a heating pad or soak a clean towel in warm water, and apply it on the affected part.
According to studies, heating up problematic muscles can improve blood circulation and blood flow, and release the tightness and tension, giving you relief and feel less soreness and pain after some time.
Treat yourself to a massage
After an intense workout, muscle tightness and soreness can happen. This can be quite painful and stop you from being able to walk properly or move around. To fix this, you can try massaging the sore areas to release the tightness and help relax your muscles.
To do a self-massage, you can use just your hands, or have massaging tools, such as a foam roller, tennis ball, or trigger point massager, to help you out.
Below are examples of self-massaging techniques you can try:
For shoulder pain and soreness
Place your fingers over the affected shoulder, and gently squeeze three times, while rolling your fingers over the sore muscles. Repeat.
For lower back pain
Place a tennis ball between a wall and your lower back. Slowly move your body side to side and up and down to locate tensed and tight areas. Once you find the right spots, apply more pressure by pushing your lower back harder into the wall to release the tightness.
For sore calves
Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Place a foam roller under your right calf first, while keeping your left leg straight on the floor. Bend your knee a bit to roll your right leg forward and backward. Do this for about 30 seconds, and then switch legs.