We’ve all experienced feeling sore after a tough session at the gym. Follow these five steps to help aid muscle recovery naturally – from sleep to CBD – and turn unwelcome pain into show-off gains.
by Chantelle Pattemore
We all love reveling in the rush of endorphins and feelings of accomplishment that come after a tough workout — but would prefer to avoid the soreness that rears its head a day or two later. Uncommonly known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), this discomfort develops because we’ve put more stress on certain muscles more than normal and, as a result, microscopic tears occur in their fibers.
Fortunately, just as professional athletes have recovery plans to help them maintain intense training schedules, there are a number of steps you can take to help naturally aid muscle repair and reduce the level of soreness after a session in the gym.
Here, we break down a few natural ways to support your body and bring yourself back into balance.
Up Your Water Intake
No, we’re not suggesting you make a pit-stop at the local bar on your way home. While we all know the importance of staying hydrated during exercise, it’s equally vital to ensure we maintain a high fluid intake right after, too. Research shows dehydration post-workout can increase your risk of DOMS. Being parched slows blood flow around the body, a process that is essential to delivering oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells – key ingredients for healing and rejuvenation.
The recommended water intake after a sweat session is a minimum of 8oz, and an extra 16oz on average for every pound of body weight lost as a result of sweat during your workout.
It’s no secret many different foods come with their own benefits, but are there any you can eat for sore muscles? The answer is yes.
While you might be tempted to reward your exercise efforts with a sweet snack or a sugary protein shake, the best foods to reach for are actually those rich in protein, carbohydrates or healthy fats, as these contribute to muscle repair and aid in reducing soreness.
Eggs, cottage cheese, sweet potato, avocado, nuts and yogurt are all great options — aim for a nutritious snack within 45 minutes of finishing your workout to give your muscles the support they need.
Incorporate CBD Oil
After exercise induces microtears in muscles, the body responds with heat and swelling — which is a signal to start the repair (and muscle building!) process. This response is a primary factor behind DOMS, so you’ll want to do what you can to help ease it.
A number of human and animal studies have indicated that cannabinoids may be highly effective in treating muscle soreness and associated discomfort; meaning CBD oil could be good for muscle recovery post-workout. To give it a try, simply pop a dropper of a tincture like our RECOVER blend underneath your tongue after your workout to keep your muscles feeling loose, and take a little bit more when you feel the soreness kicking in.
Give Yourself a Massage
Whether you visit a local spa or rope in your partner, having a massage is one of the more enjoyable methods to help promote muscle recovery.
An Australian study discovered that rubbing overworked muscles can decrease feelings of soreness by up to 30%, while US researchers found massage significantly reduces the intensity of soreness experienced 48 hours after an exercise session. It’s believed this therapy helps by lowering the production of cytokines — compounds that play a key role in soreness — and encourages the production of glucose, which is a prime player in cell repair.
Aim for at least 20 minutes of massage time to see a difference (though we won’t judge if you tell your masseuse partner you need a bit longer). Using a product that contains soothing ingredients like turmeric, black pepper and clove along with soothing CBD like The Root of it All’s REWIND muscle rub during your massage will help you feel it’s effects more potently, allowing you to skip the soreness.
Catch Those Zzz’s
Sleep: it’s one of our greatest allies in staving off health conditions.However, it’s also beneficial for helping minimize DOMS – thanks to the fact that our slumber hours provide essential downtime for muscles and tissues to rest and rejuvenate.
It is also during sleep that our bodies create and release human growth hormones, which are important players in muscle repair. So, hit the sack and grab the recommended seven to nine hours of snooze time – that Netflix binge can wait.
All these tactics for muscle recovery are quick and easy to introduce and maintain, so it’s a no-brainer you’ll want to incorporate at least a couple into your existing self care routine. It won’t take long before you start to notice the positive changes they can bring about, and your body will definitely thank you for it!
Chantelle Pattemore is a London-based journalist and content writer. With a focus on health, wellbeing, fitness and food, she has written for titles including Women’s Health, Greatist, Men’s Fitness, Shondaland, Reader’s Digest and Stylist.