For many athletes, the arrival of spring means a return to training. But how do you start your favorite physical activity again without walking like a penguin for a week after it?
In order to properly control muscle soreness, it is important to understand their mechanism of action.
First of all, muscle soreness (or DOMS → Delayed Onset Mucle Soreness) are muscle pain experienced after intense exertion that results in muscle stiffness and a temporary decrease in strength. This can be amplified by the practice of a new activity or by a more intense effort than usual. This is why muscle soreness often appears after a winter of hibernation!
Muscle-related pain usually occurs the day after or two after exercise and is caused by micro-tears in muscle tissue which are a normal adaptation and make you stronger in the long run.
How to fight muscle stiffness like a pro?
When it comes to muscle aches, we often talk about an inflammatory condition of the muscles. Moreover, some researchers have tested the anti-inflammatory effect of foods to limit muscle soreness. Cherry juice (tart cherry), being rich in antioxidant compounds, has been the subject of several studies.
According to this study (1), it would seem that cherry juice, at the rate of two 12 oz. drinks per day, would be beneficial for reducing muscle soreness. A decrease in pain as well as a less marked decrease in strength were noted in the group of subjects who used cherry juice, compared to the control group (in which the cherry juice was replaced by a cherry flavored drink. ).
According to another study (2), cherry juice would also have a positive impact on recovery by reducing in particular the markers of inflammation following a marathon, and this, by drinking cherry juice five days before the marathon and two days after.
Similar results were obtained in this other study (3), however the antioxidant-rich food used in this one is blueberries, at a rate of 250 grams / day.
How to use them?
Therefore, the consumption of foods rich in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins (cherry, blueberry, blackberry, blue potato, eggplant) seems to be a good ally for good recovery, but they must be consumed on a regular basis to obtain the most benefits. . Once again, a varied and colorful diet remains the best way to provide your body with everything it needs to develop its full potential.
Since foods rich in antioxidants are usually a source of carbohydrates as well, why not use them in your post-workout snack! Don’t forget to combine them with a source of protein to have a complete snack and thus maximize your recovery.
As for the usefulness of post-workout stretching in reducing muscle soreness, this is a myth. Stretching is useful in your workout routine, including improving your flexibility and allowing you a greater range of motion, but will not decrease your muscle soreness the next day.
Instead, opt for a workout program that gradually increases in duration and intensity, and do light exercise (such as taking a walk) the day after a more difficult workout.
Have a good training!
(1) Connolly, D. A. J., M. P. McHugh, and O. I. Padilla-Zakour. “Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage.” British Journal of Sports Medicine8 (2006): 679-683.
(2) Howatson, Glyn, et al. “Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports6 (2010): 843-852.
(3) McAnulty, Lisa S., et al. “Effect of blueberry ingestion on natural killer cell counts, oxidative stress, and inflammation prior to and after 2.5 h of running.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism6 (2011): 976-984.