Monday, July 2, 2012

How to ease sore muscles naturally

I recently started CrossFit again since coming back from school, and the transition has been brutal. I'm no stranger to sore muscles after nine years of competitive basketball, swimming, and all of the other activities I've fallen in love with. But over the years I have accumulated quite a few tricks to prevent sore muscles or help ease them if it's too late.


Image courtesy of Sparkpeople.com

1. Hydrate! Be sure to stay hydrated before, throughout your workout, afterwards. When I really pound back water after a workout I feel a noticeable difference in soreness than when I don't. Coconut water is another great way to rehydrate. Throughout the day try to drink half an ounce of water per pound of bodyweight (meaning if you are 200 lbs you should drink 100 ounces). For more intense workouts, some trainers recommend drinking 3/4 ounces for every pound.


2. Warm up. Before you start working out, be sure to warm up your body gently. After you workout, keep your body warm to prevent muscles from tensing. A heating pad (you can make you own by pouring rice inside of a sock and heating it in the microwave) can also help to relieve tight muscles.


3. Stretch. Be sure to gently stretch your muscles. There are a lot of great poses or movements for specific muscles online. Just search the muscle group or area you want to stretch and carefully try a few out. 


4. Magnesium. Found in many sports drinks, coconut water, and other foods, magnesium helps to release muscle tension. Calcium and magnesium work together to help your muscles move. Calcium makes the muscles contract, and magnesium makes them release. When I am really sore or my muscles feel incredibly tense I take a supplement. Just be careful, magnesium is one of the main ingredients in laxatives and it is easy to overdo it or throw off your bodies balance. Start with the smallest dose possible before finding your optimal level. 


5. Rub it out. Self- massage can be a great way to release muscle soreness and tension.


6. Roll it out. My foam roller is my best friend. I foam roll before and after workouts as well as before bed. Foam rolling is essentially like massage in that it presses on the muscles and helps to release knots and tension. I also roll my calves on a 3 inch diameter PVC pipe. My trainer recommended this while I was battling shin splints, and it makes a huge difference. 


7. Rest. Listen to your body. When you are sore your body is telling you it's time to take a break and let it rebuild. 

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