Training hard and training to reach your peak and beyond is something we all strive for. In working towards your peak physical fitness, you need to put pressure on and test your body but in aiming to feel the burn and the genuine effects of a full muscle workout, many of us end up with unnecessary post-exercise soreness and even worse. However, there are a range of specific and proven techniques which can help reduce post-exercise pains and ensure you get the most out of your routine without inflicting unnecessary damage on your body as you work on it.
Moderation and Control
The classic mantra of no pain, no gain is something many of us keep in mind when pushing through another 30 reps but when your pain threshold is attacked regularly, your body has no chance to recover. Working towards that perfect shoulder and back muscle tone (the famed V-Shape) is certainly a goal but is it worth struggling for days after a single session and therefore hampering your routine altogether? Research suggests it makes more sense to work out moderately and steadily over a number of days than push yourself too hard and then be out of action. Recovery is something which is integral to your body’s routine and the better you treat your body, the more exercise you will be able to complete in the long run.
A recent study conducts in the States has concluded that ginger could be another way of reducing and containing post-exercise muscle soreness. Daily ginger consumption has been shown to reduce the levels of pain felt post-exercise by up to 25% and as little as two grams a day could be enough to give your body the pain relieving benefits. If you’re not a fan of ginger, consider capsules from your local health store or mix in the powdered form to your morning smoothie or protein shake. If you are a fan of the flavour, consider highly nutritious stir fry meals with ginger a key garnish ingredient.
Contrast Water Therapy
For decades, the idea of contrast water therapy has been debated as a recovery technique. Described as the alternating of hot and cold baths and even the inclusion of an occasional ice bath, these techniques are dismissed by many, especially if your key reason for exercise is growth and body enhancement. However, research has been shown to suggest that this form of therapy can actually be helpful in suppressing negative hormones. The process works by constricting and then releasing the body’s blood flow creating the effect of reduced stiffness in joints and even muscle swelling.
Pickles or Cherries – your choice
Another interesting study from a university in Utah has shown immediately ingesting pickle juice after exercise can help stop painful post-exercise cramps nearly 40% faster than if you don’t. We’re not sure if that sounds like something you want to try but it is shown to work. More tasty sounding research from London South Bank University has suggested the immediate consumption of cherry concentrate before and after your routine can also significantly increase the speed of muscle recovery. Whether cherries or pickles take your fancy the addition of one of these supplements could be a healthy and proactive way of helping your body recover safely.
The Traditional Warm-Down
Much maligned and often ignored, the traditional warm-down could be described as the perfect way of working your body into its recovery state. Research has suggested that low intensity exercise is still considered the most effective form of recovery and aids blood circulation, helping with the removal of lactic acid in your muscles. Lactic acid build up is the main culprit for causing post-exercise pains and therefore, warming down and a low intensity element to your workout could really make a huge difference.
For example, if you have been working on some intensive upper body weight training, experts would suggest that your warm down would include further light weight training of approximately 30% of your regular weights, using the same muscles and muscle groups. This way you are teaching your body that recovery is underway and they can naturally relax. If you’re a cardio specialist, the same would be said of your pace, bringing it down to 30% or below for the end part of your training.
The reduction of lactic acid in the muscles is essentially your aim as your body will feel fitter, better and your exercise session will feel like it was worth the sweat and tears as you don’t have limp out of your gym. On your quest for ideal body, that perfect V-shape and whatever else you aspire to, you need to look after your muscles and treat them respect. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a very sticky situation where training becomes impossible and all your hard work was for nothing.
by Jessica Ward
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