Summer is almost here. Time to kick our butts into shape. Whether you’ve signed up for a 12 week challenge, joined the gym, taken up running, boxing, CrossFit, Pilates… whatever; you’ll know that after the first session, you’re often so stiff, even texting on your phone is painful!
Enter delayed onset muscle soreness, better known as DOMS. It is the result of micro trauma in the muscles and surrounding connective tissues, which causes inflammation. It begins several hours afterward, and peaks (on average) around two days after exercise. It sounds terrible but DOMS is actually a good thing. The tiny tears signal the immune system to release white blood cells to start the repair process, building up muscles stronger than before.
What You Can Do About It
When you’re sore, you want to do something about it, right? The following nutrients can help you create the right internal environment for muscle recovery;
- Collagen: The specific amino acids, primarily glycine and proline help repair tissue, lessen inflammation, shortens recovery after exercise and helps with sports related injuries. Supplementation with collagen peptides showed a reduction of risk for injuries on muscle, tendons, and ligaments in athletes. Also the glycine and arginine content in collagen aids athletic performance and help maintain and restore muscle mass.
- L-Glutamine works by moving nitrogen atoms to other parts of the body that needs them. And to build muscles, there should be a balance of positive nitrogen. As you exercise, nitrogen rushes to muscle damage to stimulate repair. The lack of L-Glutamine in the body slows down recovery. Unfortunately, for those that work out regularly, the body cannot meet the demand for this nutrient fast enough so an L-Glutamine supplement is advised.
- Astaxanthin provides excellent recovery from exercise. This powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant is indicated for recovery of muscles, better endurance, enhanced strength and improved energy levels.
- Omega 3: Aside from being a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, Omega-3 fats have also been shown to augment blood flow to muscles during exercise, decrease muscle soreness by 35%, reduce swelling, and increase range of motion after intense exercise.
- Protein is arguably the most important nutrient to take immediately after your workout. Your muscles have been broken down and therefore need repairing and rebuilding. Consuming a good quality protein powder in the form of a shake is not only an efficient and fast-digesting way to get essential amino acids to your muscles quickly, but is the perfect way to also stimulate muscle protein synthesis, recovery and growth.
- Magnesium helps relax muscles, speeds up recovery, improves muscle function, maintains electrolyte balance and reduces fatigue.
- MSM: Aside from supporting overall joint health, MSM aids in short-term recovery by reducing inflammatory immune responses and swelling. MSM also increases glutathione levels, a primary antioxidant compound recognized by trainers, athletes and scientific experts for its ability to enhance exercise recovery. It even significantly decreases muscle cell damage up to 24 hours after exercise.
- Cherries: are a proven anti-inflammatory, besides reducing your uric acid level. Science shows they help with maladies like arthritis and gout, as well as general muscle soreness. One study involving a group of long distance runners found tart cherry juice to significantly reduce post-exertion pain.
- Curcumin: Besides giving turmeric its vibrant yellow-orange colour, curcumin effectively relieves pain, increases mobility and reduces inflammation.
These nutrients need to be part of a holistic approach when it comes to recovering optimally. Make sure you are exercising responsibly (not overdoing it!), eating a nutritious diet, sleeping enough, managing your stress levels and resting adequately between workouts. And remember that exercise should be enjoyable in order for it to be sustainable and beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing.