Keeping sore muscles under control is a constant battle for me when I am working my way through brick workouts or particularly long back to back cardio sessions…a proven cocktail for extreme muscle soreness is throwing something new in the mix, which is exactly what I did Monday Night.

which trumps DNF

After racing Sunday (or attempting to race) and teaching spin Monday evening I went to a Tough Mudder Boot Camp which is similar to Crossfit, normally I would avoid workouts targeting specific muscle groups after intense cardio on legs that are in need of a rest day…but my senses failed me and I joined in for the pain… So as I waddle from place to place trying to make my calves and quads work in conjunction with one another, combatting soreness is on the forefront of my mind.

The boring stuff: Understand there is a difference between Lactic Acid Threshold and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), many times these two are confused or incorrectly used interchangeably. Lactic acid release and build up happens during your actual workout while you are experiencing intense exertion, not after.  The burning sensation you feel during long cardio or weight lifting sessions is lactic acid being released into the muscles and is a normal byproduct of muscle metabolism.  If you stay hydrated and intake proper nutrition during long workouts you should easily stay above your lactic acid threshold.

DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the aching, stiffness and sometimes even pain experienced in the 24-48 hours after an intense workout.  No longer are you flushing out lactic acid buildup, now is the time that minute tears in the muscle fibers, created by exertion, are inflamed and beginning got heal.  There are many methods to combat soreness, but the most important one is to use your brain…take a rest day if needed and let your body catch up with your will…that said here are some other methods to try.

Nightly Routine: Every night after I finish a brick workout I have a nightly supplementation routine…its pretty simple as I mostly supplement in the AM.  Loose Leaf Tea from Teavana which provides antioxidants in droves and restorative benefits to boot.  Nighttime Recovery from Advocare, loaded with BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) to aid in muscle recovery, fuel and growth, and finally a high quality Pro-biotic supplement from the local health food store. However on top of this routine, I occasionally work through a few of the following options,  depending on my level of exertion for a particular day and the demands of upcoming workouts.

Post Brick Nightly Routine

Drink Lots of Water: Anytime you are battling inflammation it is extremely important to constantly flush your system with plenty of H2O and remain fully hydrated between workouts.

Foam Roller: There are plenty of mixed opinions out there regarding foam rollers and I have a love/hate relationship with my own…but they work…not without the occasional wince of pain from the user, but they really do help with tight muscles, especially in the lower body and back.

Ice Bath: Personally, I can’t handle it, but I know legit athletes that swear by it…attempt at your own risk…

Hot Bath: My method of choice followed my an ice pack instead of full immersion into the icy depths…add Epsom Salt to the bath water for oxidation and increased blood flow to the surface of the skin.

Ice Packs: If the soreness is localized to a single area, try ice for 15 min at a time.

Light Workout & Stretching: I like to go to Hot Yoga on rest days to get loosened back up for the week ahead, the key is to keep your pride in check and not over do it, remember you are there for restorative purposes…to fuel upcoming workouts, not to show off your bound pigeon pose. (Note to self)

Cherries: Eat anti-oxidant rich foods like cherries and tomatoes….like the ones I brought for lunch.

Natural Pain Killers-Sort of

Most importantly, stay proactive and don’t use soreness as an excuse to be lazy with nutrition or your program, modify and adapt.  Many sources suggest taking NSAID pain relievers for muscle soreness but I am of the humble opinion that if you have taken your body to the point of moderate-acute pain you need to listen to it and work to restore balance in your routine.  Fitness isn’t about a flash in the pan , its about a lifestyle of overcoming whatever obstacles are in your way.  If you do decide to take an anti-inflammatory supplement reach for a natural alternative like White Willow Bark that will still allow you to tune into your bodies responses to inflammation.

It’s Hump Day, and a modified rest day for me, which means I have to swallow my pride and teach spin off the bike tonight in favor of treadmill speed work and a swim…gotta give these legs a breather.  Learn to do the same, even when you want to ignore the pain, allow your body to recuperate and avoid future injuries.

Hope your week is stellar, what do you do to keep soreness at bay???