Former Pro Boxer Reveals Go-to Hacks for Sore Muscle Relief
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At some point, we’ve all battled muscle soreness whether it’s from a rigorous workout or easing back into fitness after an extended hiatus. Our muscles are in constant use every day and when we’re not sore, we often don’t think about how much we rely on them. There are many ways to handle sore muscles and find some relief before your next sweat sesh, but before we break down our hacks for recovery, let’s first look at how muscles become sore to begin with.
Scientifically speaking, when the body goes through an intense exercise lactic acid is produced in the muscles because the body is low in the oxygen it needs to convert glucose into energy. The lactic acid produced is what causes muscles to feel sore initially. Eventually, the liver then breaks down any excess lactate, reducing that initial pain. The pain you feel 24 to 48 hours later is a result of microscopic muscle tears. These tears create inflammation which leaves you feeling sore or in pain. The muscle tears repair themselves over the span of a day or two and in the process muscles become more resilient and gain mass. Hence the saying, “No pain, no gain.”
After being a pro-boxer for many years and taking blow after blow, you learn a thing or two about sore muscles and what will relieve the pain. Some of the best advice I have for managing sore muscles can be found in the tips below.
1. Invest in a Handheld Massager
Unfortunately, there isn’t always time for a professional massage and the costs can add up quickly. However, there is a product that offers similar benefits to a massage by using a percussive technique: the Theragun. There are a few different Therabody Theragun models to choose from but all provide a deep muscle treatment to help muscles recover while relieving stress and tension.
There are several other brands on the market that make high-quality handheld massage guns, as well, and they offer similar relief for sore muscles. These products serve as a great way to help release the lactic acid built up from strenuous exercise.
2. Foam Rolling
Don’t underestimate the power of a foam roller. These are ideal when sore muscles start to cramp or spasm. Press the muscles on the legs, back, arms, or shoulders against the foam roller to massage through the cramping or spasm. This can also help to loosen up knots that may have formed.
The increased blood flow carries nutrients to your muscles while eliminating toxins. This helps muscles recover and heal.
3. Take an Ice Bath
As many of us endure winter, the last thing we want to think about is an ice bath, but it’s one of the first things you think about when you’re a boxer with sore muscles. The ice bath itself, of course, isn’t the best feeling, but you’ll thank yourself later when your muscles recover faster. Aside from reducing pain, it’s proven that ice baths also decrease inflammation and improve circulation. Two important factors if you want to get back to the gym.
Ice baths or cold therapy are easier to take when already submerged in the cold water (ease into the water) and slowly adding the ice. Ideally, two to three commercial bags of ice will be added. It will also help to wear socks and shorts to keep your core temperature up while allowing the icy water to work its magic. Do your best to start and eventually you can work your way up to staying in the tub for at least 20 minutes.
Consult with your doctor first as certain conditions or medications might make this option unsuitable for you.
4. Stretch Out Strap
If you’ve been to a physical therapist, they likely advised you to start using a stretch out strap. There are many different stretches you can do for various parts of the body to relieve the soreness. Doing these stretches before and after a workout will help warm up and loosen the muscles. Using a strap also allows you greater control and increased flexibility which will help you reach your fitness goals faster and prevent injuries, too.
The important thing to remember is to develop a process that works best for you to help manage muscle soreness and fatigue for your post-workout recovery. Your body will begin to feel different the more you make it a habit to help your muscles recover and you’ll ultimately be a better athlete.
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