Muscle Soreness: Why Does It Happen and How to Get Rid of It?

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Remember the sore body you had the next day of some intense physical activity? Well, many people (including me) kinda like that pain. It somehow makes me feel that I’m stronger than yesterday because I worked out yesterday!

So, let’s see what’s the science behind it, then we shall see how to reduce it. The burning sensation during the workouts is because of the lactic acid accumulations across the muscles. Most of the carbohydrates you eat is eventually degraded into glucose. Glucose further reacts with oxygen in our cells to give energy. So, more you eat and more you breathe, more energy you can spend. During heavy workouts, the rate of energy required by the muscles is quite high and therefore the rate of oxygen that we need is also pretty high. Most of the times, the demand exceeds the supply and then muscles begin to supply the remaining energy anaerobically, that is, without oxygen. Of course this process is less efficient, but it is the necessity! So, unlike carbon dioxide, which forms in case of aerobic respiration, we get lactic acid for anaerobic respiration. But you can’t breathe out lactic acid the way you exhale carbon dioxide because it’s a liquid. So, lactic acid stays in your muscles making everything acidic.

DOMS

The problem with human body is that it works in a limited window of temperature and pH (pH is nothing but the measure of how acidic or basic something is). The energy production rate of glucose diminishes to a very low value in the acidic environment. You might be thinking that at such a critical time when body needs more energy, the whole machinery begins to shut down? Yeah, this is the mechanism adopted by our body to protect itself. In this way, the body prevents the permanent damage to the muscle tissues due to extreme level of exertion. With time, when the body slows and settle down, the lactic acid is slowly degraded into other chemicals which are then drained out from the cells. The whole process doesn’t last more than 1-2 hours after the workout. The aftermath, that is the pain and soreness you suffer next day on wards, is because of the tearing of elementary muscle fibers. When you lift heavy with a big effort, your muscles fibers get into a lot of tension. And your brain learns that the body needs to be stronger to lift that much weight. So, while you’re sleeping, it breaks down the smaller fibers and makes bigger and stronger muscle fibers. This process goes on for 2-3 days and meanwhile the tearing gives you the sensation of soreness.

stretching

So, now you’re familiar with the science behind the muscle soreness. Let us now see how to get rid of it, or how to reduce its painful effects. I’m listing the things point-wise:

  • Drink a lot of water. Yups buddy, water is a solution to more than half of the diseases. Acids dissolve in water. So, more water you drink, more hydrated your body will be and more easily all that lactic acid would flush out. About half a liter of water before the workout, and about 1 liter between the workouts, in small quantities – this much would do.
  • Breathe, breathe, breathe! We now know that lactic acids forms because of anaerobic reactions of glucose. More you breathe, more oxygen you’ll intake and lesser will be amount of lactic acid accumulated. Breathing deeply has a lot of other advantages too. It helps you exert more power at a time, it reduces your chances of falling down during sets and most importantly, it helps you do that one extra rep! Breathe continuously and at a regular pace. In from the nose and out from the mouth. Breathe out at the point of maximum exertion, that is, when you’re working against the gravity and breathe in when you are working with the gravity.

water

  • Do the warm-ups properly. If you directly jump into lifting heavy without any proper warm up, chances are you’ll end up with a torn muscle. Warm-up activates the muscles and enhances the blood circulation throughout. Oxygen will be supplied from these blood vessels only. So, making the blood flow is important. A sudden build-up of lactic acid might cause tearing.
  • Import some regularity. More irregular you are, more are your chances of lactic acid build-up and muscle soreness the following days. I’d say workout everyday :D but then again, you need to give about 2 days of rest every week to get the muscles recovered.
  • Proper stretching. After workouts stretching are very important both in terms of muscle building as well as muscle recovery. Stretching helps in draining out the lactic acid accumulations. Start slowly and then go to the point of your maximum not-painful flexibility. Stretch just a little bit more and then slowly get back to the original configuration.
  • Sleep! Muscles are recovered when you sleep. A good night’s sleep is necessary and sufficient to get you back to your strength. About 8 hours of continuous sleep is enough for a day.
  • Eat. If you’re working out seriously, then you must eat a lot. There are some foods which really help a lot in recovering from sore muscle-pain. Here’s a small list, pickup whatever you like ;)

Eggs, milk, tuna, chicken, broccoli, fish, beef, salmon, soybean oil, sunflower oil, green vegetable, spinach, beans tofu, potato etc.

food

Hope you recover soon!

another muggle :|