If you’ve ever worked out, you know the pain of muscle soreness. After a tough workout, it hurts to walk, sit, lay-and with each movement you feel that twinge of pain for up to 48 hours. So, will exercise make this pain go away? To answer that question you have to know why the pain happens in the first place.
During extensive workouts, your muscles are consistently contracted, which creates tears. As your body becomes fatigued it looks for help from glycogen stores to continue fueling your working muscles with blood and oxygen. During this process, lactic acid is left behind; this is deposited in your muscles, which causes your body to feel sore.
Ultimately, however, we want to know if exercise can reduce this muscle inflammation, rather than just cause it. And, the answer is yes. There are three ways to tackle muscle soreness with exercise.
Cross Train Your Muscles
When you do the same workout over and over again, think: the same circuit, the same run, etc., the muscles being worked are unchanged. Over and over they are fatigued, while others are ignored. Thus, the first step in making exercise an anti-inflammatory reducer is to cross train.
Not only will this strengthen muscles you don’t normally use, but it will also restore your already exhausted ones. Be sure that you are cross training with a very different kind of workout to ensure this process is able to work successfully. Try walking, yoga, or take a new class at the gym.
Have a Proper Cool-Down
A proper cool-down takes 10 extra minutes, yet too many people forget to some light exercise immediately following your workout. Instead of moving to a static state, this allows your body to go through a necessary cooling process.
When you perform light exercise after an intense workout, your heart rate is able to return to normal, which stops blood from pooling around your muscles. When this happens, more blood is pumped back to your heart, allowing better oxygen flow, which cleans out the lactic acid left behind, as well. Because lactic acid the reason for muscle soreness, you’ll feel significantly less pain.
Finally, though you’re aching for a day off, consider having an active rest day, instead. This doesn’t mean having another intense workout, but rather participating in light exercise that will get blood and oxygen flowing. Again, this then cleans the lactic acid out of your muscles, easing the soreness.
Another benefit of day-off workouts? As your heart rate rises, your muscles are refueled by oxygen from your blood, which makes them elastic, rather than rigid from scar tissue.
If you’re feeling the soreness, more exercise just might be the solution to make it better. However, it’s important to remember these exercises should be light; they are meant to help along the muscle repair process, not bring them back to the same state they were in before.
Be wary of these techniques after an especially rigorous workout, as that is when you’ll need it the most. Be sure to incorporate at least one day a week of cross training, and proper cool down every single time.