We are officially halfway through our BOO-ty Challenge, and if you're doing this thing the right way, you've got some sore glutes, girl!
Muscle soreness is something that we've all experienced and deal with from time to time, but how much do you really know about it? And beyond that, do you know the best way to cope with it when you wake up in the morning and can barely lower your sore buns onto the toilet to pee? #sotrue
I want you to have all of the tools you need to get through this challenge, and every future challenge, feeling your best! So keep reading to find out all about soreness, when it's good and when it's not, and how you can cope with it when it sneaks up on you!
What The Heck Is It?
First things first, "what really is soreness?" Well, there are two main types of muscle soreness. One is acute muscle soreness, which is that burning sensation that shows up during or immediately after your workout and is caused by a buildup of lactic acid. This type of soreness should resolve itself quickly.
The other type is delayed onset muscle soreness (otherwise known as DOMS), which is the pain and stiffness you feel 24-72 hours after your workout, and is due to inflammation and microtears in your muscles. These teeny itty bitty tears occur when you've pushed your body passed what it's used to (level up, girl!), but these tears heal within days, and leave your muscles stronger than before!
Neither of these types of soreness are harmful, as long as they don't affect your ability to function or last more than 7-10 days, at which point you should chat with your doctor to see if there might be more serious damage. If it only lasts a few days, you can be confident in the fact that your muscles are getting stronger and you're only getting more capable to tackle your next sweat-sesh!
How Do I Treat It?
Now that we're clear on what all of that pain and stiffness is, let's talk about how to treat it! There's not much that will take away your soreness completely, but there are several things you can do in the hours and days after your workout to help ease the pain of sore muscles, even just a liiiiittle bit!
After your workout, take a warm bath or sit in the hot tub for 20-30 minutes. If you want double the benefits, add some epsom salts to your bath for reduction of any inflammation in your muscles!
After heat therapy, take an ice bath (if you're brave enough!) or use ice packs on trouble spots to help reduce nerve activity and treat inflammation.
Another handy dandy tool is the arnica flower – it's a fabulous little herb that's been used to treat pain and swelling for centuries, and has been popular due to its supposed anti-inflammatory properties – sound amazing? That's because it is! Try to find a cream with arnica in it to have on hand so you can massage it into extra sore muscles and all you have to do is sit back and let it work its magic!
This next tip may be a no-brainer for you, but it's so sooo important. Foam rolling, or massages, can help break up the lactic acid building up in your muscles, reducing delayed onset soreness. Breaking down that acid plays a big roll in your ability to feel minimal pain from muscle soreness.
Lastly, make sure that you cool down sufficiently after your workout. Continuing to move around will keep your muscles from becoming too stiff and will allow you to stay loose as you recover.
What Do I Eat?
Fascinatingly enough, remedies for soreness carry over from the gym to the kitchen, and there are certain foods that you can eat or avoid to set your muscles up for pain-free success! Focus on foods rich in omega-3 and antioxidants, such as salmon, turmeric, blueberries, kale, and ginger. Coffee is another good thing to have both before and after your workout, as it delivers antioxidants to your body as well as caffeine, which can help reduce soreness as well – ahhhhmazing, right?!
Likewise, be sure to avoid alcohol as it dehydrates your muscles and exacerbates your soreness, and steer clear of sugar as well as it can make inflammation worse, causing more pain.
Can I Prevent It?
Helping to prevent soreness also involves things like being consistent with your workouts so you're not losing progress, staying extra hydrated so your muscles have everything