After a hard workout at the gym we expect to have sore muscles for the next several day; this feeling is commonly referred to as DOMS, which stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS is due to high intensity workouts and while the pain isn’t unbearable it can definitely be uncomfortable, leaving us with an achy sensation. Taking ibuprofen is a popular way to quickly diminish the discomfort of DOMS but there are other simple, more natural ways to recover. Here are several alternative strategies we like to use that include consuming fruit full of antioxidants, vibrational therapy with our warm-up, and a sauna and occasional massage after the workout.
Cherries are full of numerous antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. A study proved that soreness due to working out can be reduced by drinking 12 ounces of tart cherry juice four days before and after intense exercise. DOMS were significantly reduced compared to the other healthy patients who were given a placebo.
DOMS can also be reduced by the consumption of blueberries, which are also rich in antioxidants. In a different study healthy volunteers ate 250 grams of blueberries followed by a two and a half hour run. A control group participated in the run and but ate no blueberries. After six weeks the volunteers’ muscles were biopsied and the results proved that the participants who had eaten blueberries had reduced inflammation and oxidative stress. Eating blueberries in combination with intense exercise can help reduce muscle pain and discomfort.
Using whole body vibrations prior to exercise can help reduce DOMS after exercise. Vibrational therapy can reduce muscle damage. The muscle damage is due to microscopic muscle fiber tears. Using vibrational therapy before exercise can increase our blood flow and help to activate muscles, allowing us to become more flexible and increasing our range of motion. Although this therapy prepares our body for an intense workout it should not be used as a replacement for warming up. Warming up and vibrational therapy should be practiced prior to exercise if we want to reduce DOMS.
Foam rolling after exercise can help alleviate muscle fatigue and soreness. Foam rolling is a simple, effective, and therapeutic way to reduce DOMS while enhancing the recovery of muscular performance. Massage therapy is another way to reduce or help prevent DOMS after a workout. It is typically used in physical therapy to promote the healthy growth of new mitochondria in muscle cells. Massage therapy eases tension in our muscles and helps us cope with inflammation caused by DOMS.
Hitting the sauna after a tough workout is another great way to diminish DOMS. The heat filled room will help to keep our muscles warm and loose. Sometimes after a high intensity workout we can get a tight feeling of immediate soreness in our bodies causing tension in our muscles. By sitting in the sauna for at least 10 minutes our muscles are able to relax and reactivate because of the high temperatures and humidity.
In summary, adding cherries and blueberries to our diet, consistently warming up prior to exercise, possibly including vibrational therapy to our warm up and following exercise with sauna or a massage will all reduce the symptoms of DOMS.