After an intense weight lifting session or a hard endurance run our bodies need to repair torn muscle tissue, recover strength levels, eliminate inflammation and reduce the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness. So what should you do? There are TONS of articles on line to help with how and what to use for recovery. Most people find articles related to stretching, supplements and anti inflammatory medication. One interesting fact to throw at you right now is this: Research has shown that cryotherapy, stretching, homeopathy, ultrasound and electrical current modalities have demonstrated no effect on the alleviation of muscle soreness or other DOMS symptoms.
Below, are some options that have been researched and scientifically shown to aid in your bodies rehabilitation process.
Foam Roller- In a study conducted by The Journal of Strength an Conditioning Research, it was found that after foam rolling, subjects’ ROM significantly increased by 10° and 8° at 2 and 10 minutes, respectively. It has also been found that following foam rolling, sprint times, vertical jumps and muscle activation increased. It has also been found to help promote soft tissue extensibility and promote optimal skeletal muscle functioning. It has been concluded that foam rolling is an effective method in reducing DOMS.
Beets (help your muscles use oxygen more efficiently and helps to dissolve calcium deposits and detoxify)
Probiotics (helps the digestive system work faster)
Vitamin C (plays a critical role in collagen formation. Collagen is the primary component of connective tissue)
Berries (boosts immunity and has also been shown in the Journey of International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that eating blueberries accelerates muscle recovery and resulted in faster recovery rates when consumed before and during exercise)
Salmon (Omega 3s help reduce joint swelling while also providing a lean source of protein for muscle repair)
Chia Seeds (expands within your gastrointestinal system to help maintain hydration levels)
Water- It is so important to hydrate before, during and after a workout. The average adult human body is 50-65% water. Therefore if you deplete your body of water your muscles will not function properly. Imagine a sponge being rung out of water, it dries out and gets stiff. This is what happens to your muscles if you do not properly hydrate.
Massage- But I don’t mean the nice relaxing kind. I mean the kind where a professional gets into the muscle and tendons that are not firing properly or are overused. For instance, if you suffer from shin splints, breaking apart built up scar tissue and tight muscles within the gastroc (calves), anterior tibialis, posterior tibialis, peroneals will help with proper muscle firing and activation. Research shows just 15 minutes of massage after an intense workout improves proprioception and strength.
Saunas- Lets admit it, sitting in a sauna feels amazing. It causes you to sweat and release endorphins, and helps increase blood flow to the muscles, which temporarily help make sore muscles feel better. This does not mean using a sauna will help with your recovery. There is little scientific evidence on sauna use for sore muscles, especially for those experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness.
Icing- In a 2011 study, researchers found no distinct benefits from icing sore muscles. Muscles did not heal faster, nor were they less painful than untreated tissues.
In the majority of studies, researchers found icing was effective in numbing muscle soreness, but observed that after ice treatments muscle strength, power and fine motor coordination was SIGNIFICANTLY reduced
Because ice reduces nerve conduction velocity, icing slows nerve impulses and directly changes the function of the muscles and tendons. Athletes were not able to jump as high, sprint as fast, or throw as well immediately following 20 minutes of ice treatment.
Stretching- I know I know…but hear me out. Researchers from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning have shown in a study that vertical jump height DECREASED after static and PNF stretching for roughly 15 minutes. So your muscles were impaired for 15 minutes and were not properly firing. A study conducted by The Journal of Athletic Training found that after static stretching there was a defect in strength, power output, and muscle activation at both slow and fast velocities. Another study found that there was NO difference in leg extension power after either stretching for 30 minutes or not stretching. BUT, drum roll please, leg extension power was significantly greater after DYNAMIC stretching. So a dynamic warm up increases muscle function!!