A lot of my personal training clients are ‘mentioning’ their post workout soreness after their sessions. These particular clients are in the middle of tough training phases right now, so a little muscle soreness is natural, but there are some simple things that can be implemented to help ease the pain! When a client asked how much soreness is natural I tell them that it differs from client to client and depends on the workout / training phase, and a little soreness up to 48 hours post training can be expected. A red flag for me is when the soreness is debilitating and affects everyday life, other overtraining signals can be lack of progress in the gym, disrupted sleep and feeling like there is ‘no gas in the tank’. At this point training should be reduced and strategies such as extra rest, yoga, and nutrition support should be implemented.
If there are no red flags then I ask them to implement the following, and may even bring them in an Anti Inflammatory Mango Smoothie if they are working extra hard!
Drink more water: I know this may sound obvious, but proper hydration can increase performance and reduce post workout muscle soreness. Ensure you are drinking water throughout the day, not just during and after the workout, and aim for at least 0.7 ounces of water per pound of bodyweight as your personalized water goal.
Train more often: this may sound counterproductive, but training large muscle groups at least 3 times a week can condition the muscles to hard training and eventually reduce post workout soreness. This is also why new trainees may experience more soreness than those more experienced, and why you may be more sore after a changing your workout. So hang in there – it gets better!
Warm up and cool down properly: boring, I know, but reducing muscle soreness starts even before your workout does. I ask my clients to walk, bike or row for at least 8-10 minutes (more if they have a desk job and are coming to me during their work day), then complete another 5 minutes of mobility work and dynamic stretching. Warming up has so many benefits, preventing injury, improving performance, preparing the mind for exercise, and reducing soreness post workout. After working out I ask my clients to foam roll and stretch for as long as they can. If they are in a rush then I advise them to stretch post shower or in the evening before they go to bed.
Take a cold shower: this is my favorite way to ease muscle soreness post workout, and can be really enjoyable once you are used to it! A cold bath or shower post workout increases circulation, bringing fresh blood to your muscles to help repair, lower inflammation and increase recovery speed. It also has the added benefit of tightening skin and giving you a great glow! If this is too much to bear try switching to a cold shower for the last 2 minutes after your hot shower.
Supportive nutrition and supplementation: if you are working hard in the gym your nutrition should support your efforts. Ensure you are well fueled before training (a mixture of protein, carbs and fat 60-90 mins before training is ideal), and a strategic post workout shake can give your muscles the materials for repair whilst lowering inflammation.
Turmeric (the active ingredient being curcumin) is a wonderful anti inflammatory, and can be use to great effect either in food or supplement form. One of my favourite functional foods is Inflam PX from the Poliquin Group, which contains turmeric extract (along with other anti inflammatory and healing compounds) that can be consumed on its own, or I like to add it to a vanilla protein shake. I recommend Inflam PX to all my clients if they get injured or after surgery, but it can also be used everyday to support hard training.
You can also replicate this at home with my Turmeric Mango Coconut Protein Smoothie, which also contains collagen powder which is my go-to for muscle repair and ginger which also has anti-inflammatory properties:
Anti Inflammatory Mango Protein Smoothie
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup filtered water
½ cup frozen mango
2 teaspoons collagen powder
1 teaspoon fresh grated turmeric or turmeric powder
1 teaspoon fresh grater ginger or ginger powder
Throw ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.