Everyone is familiar with the unpleasant feeling of muscle stiffness and soreness from a good day of exercise. Many get worried that they have injured themselves whilst others will continue exercising. When we complete a bout of exercise (specifically resistance training), high tensile forces damage the muscle fibres and connective tissues. This results in inflammation and presents itself as muscle soreness. Because of inflammation, the muscle swells up and its ability to produce energy to do work is reduced. This sensation is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This physiological process after exercise is normal and in any exercise program it is paramount to implement recovery strategies to allow time for the body to rest, recover and prepare for the next session. If we don’t provide sufficient time for recovery, we may start to overtrain and put our bodies at a higher risk of injury.
Typically, it can take 24-48 hours for the inflammation process to take place, so it is recommended to structure your program in a way that gives each muscle group a day or two to rest (for example, you can split your program into upper body and lower body exercise sessions).
Here are some other strategies to assist with your training recovery;
A good strategy to assist with muscle recovery is applying a foam roller to the muscles that have been worked. Foam rolling aims to reduce muscle soreness by reducing myofascial build-up via applying pressure to tight spots on the muscle’s tendons and ligaments. In addition, foam rolling can assist with loosening up tight tissue along with improving blood flow and range of motion, which can assist with recovery and injury risk reduction.
Other strategies for recovery are allowing adequate time for sleep each day, preferably allowing a minimum of 8 hours. Adequate sleep has shown to increase mood, boost the immune system and provides time where concentrations of the growth hormone (which assists with muscle growth and repair) are highest. If we don’t have adequate amounts of sleep, our strength and energy stores are impacted, and we run the risk of injury.