I used to buy into the whole “sore today, strong tomorrow” idea. I distinctly remember what it felt like to not being able to walk down the stairs after “leg day”, and also remember the feeling of not being able to breathe deeply without my ribs hurting after a particularly brutal WOD consisting of wall walks and thrusters. My body was not happy, and I was so very inflamed.
No matter how you slice it, exercise does create inflammation. Yes, it is “stress,” but it’s a stressor that the body can benefit from, if you take the time to recover well afterward.
These days, it’s rare that I get significantly sore from a workout, yet I continue to gain strength and flexibility. That’s because unlike other exercise programs, T-Tapp helps eliminate inflammation as it is created throughout the course of your workout by kick-outs, lymphatic pumping, and stretching the fascia. So instead of letting the lactic acid and inflammation sit in your muscles, creating that intense soreness you might feel the next day, you pump it out as you go along. Occasionally, I will overdo it, like last week when I taught a 2 1/2 hour T-Tapp Clinic the day after I had walked 4 miles carrying my 10 month old most of the way.
So, what to do when you feel creaky and sore? Whether you’re an athlete or a busy Mom, here (in no particular order) are my top recommendations to help you refresh and rebuild after a long day on your feet or an intense workout.
High Protein Snack
When you work your muscles, you create micro-tears in the muscle fibers. They have to rebuild and repair themselves each and every time! Eating a high-protein snack after your workout will help you build up that lean muscle mass. One of the very few times I recommend a lower-fat choice is in the post-workout window. Fat can slow down digestion, so making a leaner choice, such as turkey breast, will ensure it gets to those muscles ASAP. If your workout has been especially grueling, feel free to add in a whack of carbs (like my favorite, sweet potato!) to help replenish your muscle glycogen.
Simple? Might sound like it, but hydration can be a reason for muscle stiffness! Anytime my muscles start to feel “creaky-crunchy,” I know it’s time to get in more water! Dehydration can affect not only your muscles, but your fascia too, leading to that taught and uncomfortable feeling in the muscles. Add a pinch of sea salt or mineral drops to help your body put that water to good use!
Epsom Salt or Magnesium Chloride Foot Soak
Studies have shown that the most effective way to absorb magnesium from Epsom salt and/or magnesium flakes is via the feet. A magnesium chloride foot soak is ideal for rapid, intensive transdermal magnesium supplementation. Yes, taking an epsom salt bath is great and very relaxing, but sometimes you just don’t have the time! Add in some baking soda and/or sea salt to your foot soak for extra detoxification benefits.
Foam Rolling and Self-Myofascial Release (specifically, using the MELT method techniques.)
This is my new favorite recovery tool! Have you noticed you still have “stuck” or tight places in your muscles, no matter how much you stretch pre and post workout? Conventional stretching alone will NOT help fascia become “un-stuck.” Sue Hitzmann’s specific sequences will help you rehydrate the fascia in the areas that need it most, bringing comfort and fluidity to creaky joints or tired muscles. I like how I can zero in on a particular area of focus and that I can tailor it to my day-to-day needs. Click here to view Sue’s YouTube Channel to learn more and to watch how it’s done!
Yes, I know. Sometimes, good sleep can be hard to come by but as much as you can, try to get quality rest. This is the time when the body rebuilds and it is crucial to your success in recovering from workouts. To put it bluntly, if you’re not sleeping well, quit exercising in a way your body cannot recover from. Poor sleep when coupled with intense workouts, normal life stress, and not enough food, is a recipe for disaster and is the beginning of adrenal fatigue. Personally, I started more intense workouts only after both my baby girl and I were sleeping consistently through the night, which took many months. If you must be up and about or use a computer or mobile device after dark, use blue blocking glasses. Blue light causes the pineal gland to decrease or shut off the production of melatonin, the “sleepy hormone” that is responsible for helping us feel tired and fall asleep. Blocking this light means you’ll fall asleep when it’s time for bed, instead of tossing and turning, feeling “wired and tired.”
An anti-inflammatory spice that is a well-documented way to decrease inflammation and pain in the body. If I’ve had a long day or intense workout, I will often take a double or even triple dose to head off any soreness. It really works!
You may have seen pro athletes with these pads stuck to their muscles. This battery operated device sends electromagnetic pulses through the muscles, strongly contracting first and then subsequently relaxing them. A perfect tool for those with muscles that get tight after a workout or for those with spasmatic muscles. I bought mine at the drugstore for under $50 and it has served me well thus far!
If your muscles tend to cramp and become sore easily, you may want to look into supplementing on a regular basis with magnesium. There are many different forms of magnesium, and you can try a topical spray, such as Ancient Minerals Spray magnesium, or take it in capsule form, like Magnesium Glycinate. For muscles in particular, I have seen Magnesium Bisglycinate to work wonders for relaxing tightness in the body.
This ancient technique has a host of modern-day benefits. In fact, Michael Phelps created a buzz when he utilized this technique during his 2016 Olympic appearance. Cupping therapy uses gentle vacuum suction on the skin to loosen the muscles, encourage lymphatic flow, and relax the nervous system. It can also help break up distorted fascia, and is especially effective at bringing hydration to dry and crusty fascial adhesions and/or scar tissue. You can use them in a sauna or shower with oil, gliding over any tight spots. There are many tutorials online available for beginners. I have a simple, one-piece silicone set from Amazon, however, you can find many different kinds, including a set you can suction to your comfort level with a hand-pump.
Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Certified Fitness Trainer, Certified T-Tapp Trainer
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