How to treat sore and stiff muscles

Have you been training hard in lockdown? Has the extra free time resulted in you pushing a little too much on that 5k? I know lockdown has caused me to get a bit carried away recently. With limited opportunities to get out and about and extra causes of stresses and worry it is tempting to go all out when exercising. Feels great at the time but when you wake up the next day you can barely move and you start to feel older than grandpa! So how do you deal with those sore and stiff muscles?

Luckily here at Stix we have got your back, or knee, or hip, or shoulder, anywhere that’s sore really. I have decided to run my first marathon during lockdown (don’t ask, we have all made bad decisions) and because I got a bit excited I over trained and my muscles were killing me. Below are my top tips for reducing the pain and recovering those strained muscles as quick as possible. Trust me they work!

#1 Don't go hard

It may seem super obvious but if your body is telling you something you need to listen. I know it’s tempting when you have an end goal in mind to just power on through the pain. But this could lead to injury, which in the long-term will detriment any progress you’ve already made. After lots of working out your muscles are a lot weaker and vulnerable you need to give them rest. Instead of powering through, focus on working a muscle group which is less affected. This way, you are still getting your workout and keeping routine (very important at the moment) without over exerting and risking injury. A good example is doing simple body weight exercises such as, planks, pull-ups, press-ups etc, consider these days as a form of ‘active rest’, you are still working out but giving your body the time, it needs to recover.

#2 Focus on the short term

There are a number of steps you can take to relieve short term pain and eliminate the barrier to getting you back to full training. Stretching is so important for muscle recovery, look on You tube for some gentle stretches or there are some great Yoga classes for free! Combine stretching with applying some heat or muscle gel to the affected area in order to slowly ease the pain. A great way to work out those big knots of tension is using a foam roller or semi hard ball (hockey balls are perfect) just roll over it using your weight and the smooth movement to massage the affected area, stimulate blood flow and speed up recovery.

#3 Protein

Anyone who is keen on exercise and keeping fit knows that protein is a key ingredient to healthy muscle production and maintenance. But we can often overlook this part of our diet. Make sure after every big work out or long run to get some protein and carbs back on board ASAP (4:1 protein to carb ratio is perfect) protein bars are perfect for this. By incorporating a decent amount of protein into your diet, it can help your body build and recover muscle fibres which in turn will reduce sore and stiff muscles.

#4 Increase mobility and flexibility

When we overwork our muscles, we tighten up particularly around complex joints like the shoulder and hip. These joints are often connected by bands, tendons and ligaments which can be hard to stretch or massage. One of the best ways to reduce stiffness is by increasing mobility. Yoga is a fantastic way to do this, whilst increasing flexibility it also increases the strength of stabilizing muscles which often get overlooked when training and are essential for avoiding injuries. Yoga also has a strong focus on breath control which can help us relax and re-focus. Essentially giving you a free mindfulness session whilst helping those muscles recover. Given the current situation a bit of calm can help to clear our heads.

#5 Zinc

You might be thinking what has a strange metal got to do with my muscles? But I’m not talking about zinc in terms of a big lump of metal but in terms of the vital nutrient in our diets. Zinc acts as a natural inflammatory helping to reduce swelling and tightness around over worked joints and muscles. Try and eat plenty of red meat, poultry, whole grains and nuts which all contain zinc. Or look out for sports drinks that contain Zinc. Not only do these drinks help with inflammation amongst other things but they also encourage you to drink more water which is vital to avoid sore and fatigued muscles.

If you can stick to these simple steps you can reduce soreness in no time. STRETCH A LOT eat plenty of protein and look out for products containing zinc. But most of all LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! If you are feeling sore and stiff take some time to recover and repair those muscles. Otherwise you risk major injury which will just set you back, plus its really frustrating being injured.

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