It’s great to feel the burn when exercising, but the after effects can leave you a little worse for wear. Learn how to ease sore muscles after a workout.

It is normal to experience muscular stiffness and pain between 24 to 48 hours after a workout. Physiologists call this DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and explain that it is a common result of physical activity that stresses the muscle tissue beyond what it is used to. Some find the discomfort motivating, while others are reluctant to return to the gym when it hurts just to brush their teeth.

As a professional dancer, you may suffer from sore muscles regularly, even weekly. These are Lauren Matthews’s top tips for dealing with post workout stiffness and discomfort, so that you can resume your workout regime as quickly as possible.

  1. Diet – You need to eat enough protein to ensure that your muscles get sufficient nutrients to recover and build. I’m not the biggest fan of protein shakes and supplements; I prefer to get my protein the natural, old-fashioned way by snacking on a delicious chicken breast.
  1. Hot and Cold Therapy – Ice and heat will increase blood flow to the area and accelerate recovery time. Start with an ice pack over the area for 30 minutes, followed by a hot water bottle. There are also plenty of cooling and heating topical gels available in pharmacies.
  1. Foam rollers and tennis balls – Most gyms have foam rollers available on the premises and I highly recommend investing in one for home use. Rolling the muscles is a form of self-massage and aids in releasing muscle stiffness and trigger points. Tennis balls are fantastic for a more precise trigger point release. If you don’t own a tennis ball or a foam roller, a good old rolling pin does the trick!
  1. Yoga –The evening before dance events, or if my body is feeling particularly tender, I opt for 25 minutes of light yoga. Not only is yoga relaxing, but gentle yoga and stretching also help to ease muscular pain.
  1. Rest – You need to have a rest day throughout the week to allow your muscles time to recover. You also need to get adequate sleep to allow your muscles enough time to rebuild. While the exact relationship between sleep and exercise is still unclear, multiple studies suggest sleep deprivation can have a significant negative effect on performance and recovery.

Image: iStock

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