Last week I woke up with almost every muscle in my body aching.
And it felt amazing.
Even as I type my shoulders twinge as I press each letter button, but I’m smiling!
Why do I love it? I’m not a fan of pain, but I am a fan of getting a good workout and knowing that I’m making my body stronger.
This is proof that my HIIT workouts, courtesy of BodyRock.TV, are doing the trick. Usually I’d have to take a spinning class and do an hour of weight lifting to end up with sore muscles.
If you are not as fond of these muscle aches and think I’m nuts, let me just tell you what exactly they are before you judge.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the muscle soreness that kicks in a day or two after your workout.
You feel it when you swing your legs off your bed and push yourself up, and you all of sudden feel every movement of a given muscle group. It’s tempting to fall right back into bed at this point.
As you get up and move around, you notice that the muscles aren’t just tender, they’re tight. You think it might be good to stretch, but if just walking around hurts this much, how the heck would you stretch? (You might not be able to get back up)
Don’t let this feeling discourage you!
What it really means is that through your workout, you’ve created a bunch of micro-tears in your muscles. Sounds bad right?
It’s not! Because your body will actually repair those tiny tears and this makes your muscles stronger.
The reason you may not always feel sore after a workout is that your muscles adapt to movements quickly so as to prevent further “damage” (the micro-tears). So if you’re trying to build more muscle (to burn more fat) then you need to be constantly pushing your body, because your body is so resilient and fast-learning that it adjusts.
You see this especially with your abdominal muscles. They recover so quickly, you have to do some pretty intense workouts to make them sore.
So how do you handle DOMS?
Well, despite your probably automatic response to lay low and take a day off of working out, doing a workout will actually help with the pain. It may be a tough start as your muscles warm up, but the activity gets blood flowing to the muscles and will actually speed up recovery in many cases.
You can also ice down sore muscles (you may have heard about marathoners taking ice baths after a long run) to mitigate DOMS, or you can slap a heat pack on a particularly sore area.
When it’s not DOMS – If the muscle soreness lasts more than 72 hours, or is more than an ache (sharp pains), then you could have done real damage. Also, if the pain is in a joint or causes immediate inflammation, you most likely are experiencing more than DOMS and have a real injury.
So whether you love the sore feeling after a hard workout or dread it, just know that it’s your body’s way of saying that you pushed it beyond what it was capable of yesterday. This means that you’ll be stronger tomorrow.
I forgot how much I love this feeling (again, I’m not sick and twisted) and I try to push myself each workout. Since my workouts are short, I know that I can go all out and my muscles have been recovering just fine.
The biggest trick for me is feeding my body with the things it needs now that I am pushing it harder. Building muscle requires protein and though I get plenty to sustain the muscle I have, the muscle I am building needs more.
I try to eat lean protein with every mini-meal. Things like eggs (whites mostly), shrimp and fish, plain greek yogurt, coconut or almond milk, nuts and seeds (including nut butters in small portions), and my veggie-protein “meats.” It’s still hard to get all the protein I need though.
So my solution has been to order a protein powder, which should be arriving in the mail any day. I’ll share a review once I have a chance to try it, so stay tuned. I’ve been looking for a reasonably priced protein powder for years and it’s been quite a challenge, but I’ve got high hopes for this new one.
Do you like the sore feeling after you workout or do your dread it? How do you usually handle it?