If you've ever worked out and experienced muscle soreness the next morning, you understand just how painful it can be for your body to adapt to unfamiliar movement.
Read on to understand why this happens and, most importantly, what you can do to help your body recover!
When we work out and make an irregular movement our body isn't accustomed to, we lengthen our muscles, which creates micro-tears. This causes a condition called delayed onset muscle soreness, which tends to show up 24–72 hours after the initial exercise.
DOMS can be very unpleasant and often deters beginners from continuing with their training.
However, the good news is that your body has a natural process to cope with this irregular movement, and there are additional steps you can take to help with your recovery.
After being exposed to an irregular movement, your body adjusts to the motion by building the affected muscle group(s) to prevent further damage. This is called the repeated bout effect and explains how athletes can increase their endurance over time. These muscle adaptations only occur for the first few weeks after the initial exercise. To avoid future soreness, it is important to consistently work those areas.
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Number one, allow your body time to properly recover!
The older you are, the longer your body takes to recover, and recovery time varies from person to person. Generally, adults should do bone strengthening, muscle strengthening and aerobic exercise at least three days a week with full rest days in between for muscle restoration.
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Our body often uses carbohydrates as an energy source as well as proteins, which account for 5-15% of the energy used during exercise.
While working out, we break down these proteins to form ATP in a process known as catabolism. With a healthy protein intake (0.8g for every kilogram of body weight), your body should naturally synthesize these proteins back to their normal levels. If you find it hard to consume that protein intake every day, adding a protein powder shake in addition to your meals can help you reach this goal.
In addition to a healthy diet, healthy sleep habits also play a big role in muscle recovery. The average person should get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. During this time, your body secretes a higher amount of hormones including growth hormone, which increases cell regeneration and reproduction. Additionally, lack of sleep increases cortisol production which can inhibit protein synthesis.
Balancing exercise and exercise recovery can be challenging, but we all have the ability to do it. Being physically active is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, and we should do what we can to be well-equipped to face the challenges that come along with it.