If you are consistently not getting sore muscles after your workouts, there is a good chance you are not pushing yourself as you should. Powerful punches, fast kicks, low stances, explosive movements will push you to the brink if you are giving 100%. Sore muscles are the result of your effort in class and the sign you’re muscles are growing and getting stronger. This does face the student with an issue that may be unknown to them – how to quickly recover those muscles to train again at full energy?
Here are a number of things to minimize muscle soreness and general exhaustion from hard workouts:
- High Quality Sleep – A good 7-8 hours of consistent sleep is incredibly important to repairing muscle fibers
- Replace Fluids – Drink water, sports drinks, or even chocolate milk immediately after class to replace fluids and provide muscles with some energy (in the case of sports drinks and chocolate milk) to begin muscle recovery. Most students sweat a great deal in class and those lost fluids need to restored.
- Eat Properly – Although theories differ on how to maximize muscle recovery via nutrition, a common idea is to eat high-quality proteins and carbohydrates within an hour or so post-exercise (as well as re-hydrate to replace fluids lost – see #2). Ideally, a tasty variety of meats, nuts, fruits and vegetables along with plenty of water. Post-workout meals are ideally the largest meal of the day.
- Take It Easy – When having overly sore muscles, a lighter workout (as opposed to taking a day off) is often very helpful towards recovery as it breaks up the lactic acid in those muscles. Having another intense workout can be detrimental as the muscles can become exhausted and joints can be exposed to dangerous stress. Additionally, becoming totally exhausted and wasted can require a good deal of downtime to fully recover from and subjects your body to potential sickness.
- Stretching – After class, gently stretch your body. It doesn’t have to be intense, but it should certainly include the muscles that were worked the hardest.
- Massage – Whether self-massaging or having a professional masseuse work on loosening sore muscles, it is good to relax thru massage. This manual circulation of lactic acid and blood helps promote nutrient and waste product transport throughout the body. Using a foam roller is an inexpensive way to self-massage yourself consistently.
- Ice Baths and Hot Baths – This is probably more important for professional athletes (getting a high-quality eight hours of sleep is far more important), but can be something you do when getting sore or bruised through training. The theory is that the extreme temperatures stimulate blood flow in the body and helps flush out waste products from the body.
Train hard and get sore muscles as it’s the sign your trying pushing yourself and getting stronger. However, spend some time and energy to recover properly so you can train with all your energy the next day!