You crush your morning workout — running farther, lifting heavier or getting in one more round of that circuit. But that sweet satisfaction can quickly turn to regret the next morning when you’re too sore to swing your legs out of bed.
Many of us have experienced the burning, aching, jelly-leg feeling that begins hours, or even days, after exercise. But where does it come from and why does it always show up a couple days after certain workouts?
Any muscle soreness you feel 24 to 72 hours after exercise is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACMS). This soreness doesn’t show up after all workouts — only when you do new or intense exercises to which your body isn’t accustomed. And a 2003 study in the journal Sports Medicine found that this goes for pros and novices, alike.
“It isn’t an indication that you’ve done something wrong, said Dr. Michael Jonesco, a sports medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “It indicates you’ve stretched your body to the point that you’ve caused some muscle changes.”
- Hurts so good?
- What’s the limit?
- Right After The Workout
- The Day After
- At Work
- Facebook removes racist Spongebob Trayvon Martin GIF
- Extremely racist
- What Causes Weakness in Legs and How to Strengthen Them
- When to See a Doctor
- 13 Hilarious “After Leg Day” Memes For People Who Really Train Legs
- How you feel before and after
- How you think you’ll spend the rest of your life
- How the parking lot feels miles long…
- And Getting in the car is a workout in itself
- When even the easiest things become impossible
- When you have to do the worst squat of all
- Trying to convince people you’re not drunk
- Running? No thank you.
- How dramatic you can get because of the pain
- Driving the dog on a walk.
- Sorry Ma, My legs are out of order
- When your quads rebel against you.
- Let’s do it all over again!
- Human Performance Blog
- 3. Your Brain Doesn’t Distinguish Between Stresses
- Can’t walk after leg workout? 11 tips to make the pain go away
- Why do you get so sore after leg day?
- Tips to walk normal after leg day (and prevent or alleviate DOMS)
- 1. Warm up properly
- 2. Hydrate like crazy
- 3. Use better form during your leg workouts
- 4. Stretch out those quads and hammies!
- 5. Hit the stationary bike the next day
- 6. Walk through the pain
- 7. Ice those legs down
- 8. Take an over the counter pain killer
- 9. Use a foam roller
- 10. Use a high-quality BCAA (branch chain amino acids) for recovery
- 11. Quit ego lifting
- Wrapping Up
- 1. Start with the basics
- 2. Consider CBD
- 3. Get in some (very light) cardio
- What causes muscle soreness after working out?
Hurts so good?
Those changes begin during exercise. Muscle contractions cause microscopic tears along the muscle and nearby connective tissues, according to ACMS. These tiny tears don’t directly cause the soreness. Rather, the pain is a side effect of the muscle repair process.
“Soreness is a by-product of healing,” Jonesco told Live Science.
Once the muscle is damaged, inflammation ensues and electrolytes, such as calcium, begin to accumulate. The immune system also gets involved, according to a 2016 study in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, sending in immune cells called T-cells to infiltrate the sites of damage. Scientists still aren’t sure how these processes come together to cause pain and soreness, Jonesco said, but it’s likely that they come together to trigger both healing and pain.
Moreover, despite what you may have heard, lactic acid buildup is not a cause of DOMS. Lactic acid, which is produced during the exercise as the muscle continues to break down glucose after all of the available oxygen has been used, doesn’t hang around in the body long enough after exercise to cause soreness, according to a 1983 study published in the journal The Physician and SportsMedicine. About 45 minutes after a workout, the study’s subjects’ lactic-acid levels were not elevated, but they still developed DOMS two days later. Although there is still some controversy surrounding the topic, most scientists, the American College of Sports Medicine included, consider the lactic acid theory to have been debunked.
What’s the limit?
Muscle soreness is a good sign that you’re making progress, so you can embrace the ache with some satisfaction. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to go and repeat the same workout, Jonesco said. That’s because doing so could increase your risk of a more serious injury. The best thing you can do, Jonesco noted, is some light exercise. “Very light — and I emphasize light — exercise can get blood flowing and help that muscle loosen,” he said.
Extreme muscle soreness is a different beast. Pain that lasts longer than a few days, or pain that is so severe that it prevents you from lifting a limb, may indicate a more serious type of muscle injury that can lead to kidney damage, Jonesco said. If your soreness doesn’t improve, or if your urine turns a black tea-like color, that’s a red flag indicating that you need to see a doctor, Jonesco said.
However, in most cases, DOMS is a sign that your body is adapting. The workout that caused you so much pain the first time around won’t leave you quite so sore next time — but don’t get too comfortable.
“A little bit of soreness indicates progress,” Jonesco noted. “If you’re not having any soreness — it may be time to switch gears.”
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- Is It Safe to Exercise in Your 70s?
Originally published on Live Science.
Did you go ham on the squats and now feel like your legs are cement blocks of pain? Here, Tayla Faulmann, muscle physiologist and fitness blogger at The Science of Slaying, breaks down the steps to take for healing after leg day.
Right After The Workout
Sure, this is a bit too late if you’re already groaning when you walk, but a good pre-emptive measure to prevent muscle pain is to take an anti-inflammatory after your workout, says Faulmann, especially if it’s your first workout in a while. Then, stretch your muscles while they’re still warm. “A classic heel-to-bum stretch is good for the quads, and make sure you keep your knees together while doing it,” she says. “But stretch everything around your hips as well, not just your quads.”
READ MORE: 3 Reasons Why You Should Never Skip Leg Day
The Day After
You may have Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness after the workout if it was particularly brutal, or if you didn’t stretch after. If it’s just mild stiffness, use heat to soothe the pain. But if it’s a sharper pain, and walking is very painful, use cold. “An ice bath the next day can work wonders. A soak in the icy Atlantic would honestly be ideal for your legs,” says Faulmann.
READ MORE: The 4 Tightest Muscles — And Exactly How To Stretch Them
“It’s important to keep moving, but not at full range of motion (so don’t be doing hamstring kicks). Gently stretching regularly and light active recovery will also help.” Every half hour, get up and walk around to loosen the legs and stretch them out. Keep icing them, too, if they’re still pretty painful.
Want more? Here’s which products ease muscle soreness best, and here’s how to maximise fat burn – before the workout’s even begun.
READ MORE ON: Fitness Fitness Advice
Facebook removes racist Spongebob Trayvon Martin GIF
Image copyright unknown Image caption The picture also included a racist term
Facebook has removed a racist GIF after a search for the term Spongebob Squarepants revealed an image of the cartoon character preparing to shoot Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, who was killed in 2012.
The animation shows the character picking up sweet wrappers before becoming irate at the level of littering, taking out a gun and shouting ‘not on my watch’. However the cartoon has been distorted to show a racist word along with an image of the 17-year-old killed by neighbourhood patrol volunteer George Zimmerman.
Its presence on Facebook was flagged to the BBC by a concerned user who was “disturbed” to find it while searching for SpongeBob SquarePants GIFS to send to a friend on the social network’s Messenger app.
Facebook declined to give an official response but told the BBC that it had been removed as the GIF went against its content policy.
Giphy, a third party website who provide GIFs to Facebook also removed it.
“At GIPHY, we do not tolerate any kind of content that promotes racism, sexism, inequality, or hate of any kind. And are looking onto it further.
“As one of very few providers that power Facebook Messenger’s GIF, we take great lengths to ensure that any content found through our platform or technology is appropriate and safe for consumption.”
Broadcasters Nickelodeon who own the copyright to Spongebob declined to comment on the character being used in this way.
The GIF shows the cartoon character picking up litter to his increasing frustration. The GIF then shows an image of Travyon Martin the US teenager shot dead by George Zimmerman in 2012.
In the image Travyon has a halo round his head and is surrounded by the words “coughing…snorting” and then a racist term. The final picture shows SpongeBob holding up a gun again as if preparing to shoot Travyon Martin.
A Facebook user who wishes to remain anonymous sent the GIF to the BBC. They wrote:
“As as a user of Facebook Messenger everyday I never saw any problems with their GIFS, but I was disturbed by an extremely racist one, I have no idea how it would have been permitted or managed to get through.”
Facebook did explain that the GIF search function in Facebook messenger takes GIFs from third parties. In this case the offending GIF came from the website GIPHY.
Facebook policy is to remove content which goes against their terms that state, “You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”
GIPHY says that it also tries to stop offensive material circulating but sometimes things slip through. Spokesman for the company, Simon Gibson, says:
“GIPHY goes a long way and pours tons of resources into vetting content and ensuring stuff like this doesn’t surface, however, every now and then, something does slip through the cracks.
“We do pride ourselves on being nimble enough to address these things immediately (which is a big reason why Facebook trusts us powering their products) and are working towards ensuring instances like this are as close to zero as possible.”
By Patrick Evans, BBC Social News and UGC team
What Causes Weakness in Legs and How to Strengthen Them
6. Physical Therapy
People who have undergone severe leg or spinal cord injury are often referred to a physiotherapist to regain full function of their affected limb.
This kind of specialized physical therapy is also recommended for people who have had their leg operated and as a supportive care tool for people with the following conditions:
- Back or shoulder pain
- Cerebral palsy
- Osteoporosis (weak bones)
Although physical therapy exercises are usually modified to meet the needs of individual patients, they majorly address the following aims:
- Activating the underutilized muscles
- Enhancing muscle strength and flexibility
- Flexing the stiff joints to improve their range of motion
A physical therapist can teach you the correct way to use your muscles to make your limb movement less painful.
Regularly exercising your leg muscles under expert supervision may fast-track your recovery process and simultaneously reduce the risk of further injury or disability.
You can employ the services of a physical therapist either at your home or in a whole range of other settings such as hospitals, private practice clinics, nursing homes, schools, or rehabilitation centers.
7. Eating a Healthy Diet
The importance of a wholesome, well-balanced diet cannot be stressed enough for building strong, enduring muscles.
People who make nutritionally deficient food choices are more likely to develop weakness in the legs and other health issues that can make this condition worse, such as hampered blood circulation, general fatigue, and muscle cramps.
a. Protein: Protein is extremely important for building and preserving your muscle mass and strength. A number of dietary sources can supplement your protein needs, including animal meat, fish, soy foods, eggs, chickpea, lentils, yogurt, and nuts.
Another key element of a muscle-friendly diet is carbohydrate, and it is best to derive your quota through grain-based sources.
Besides these macronutrients, you must consume foods that are rich in calcium and magnesium. According to expert advice, it is preferable to meet most of your calcium or magnesium needs through dietary intake rather than supplements.
b. Calcium: The calcium derived from food sources is more readily and effectively absorbed by the body as opposed to its supplement derivative. This is compounded by the fact that the concentrated form of calcium derived from supplements can make you prone to kidney stones and heart ailments.
Calcium-rich foods to include in your diet:
- Dairy products
- Leafy green vegetables
- Summer squash
- Green beans
- Certain kinds of fish
- Grains such as oatmeal
- Sea vegetables such as kelp
- Calcium-fortified foods such as cereals and orange juice
People with celiac disease or type 2 diabetes are more likely to consume a magnesium-deficient diet and often require special assistance by a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to overcome this shortage without aggravating their condition.
c. Magnesium: Much like calcium, it is better to meet your daily magnesium requirement through diet rather than supplements. This is especially true for people who are already on medication for a preexisting condition.
High-dose magnesium supplements can adversely interact with the drugs that you are taking or diminish their effectiveness. Thus, it is essential to consult your doctor before starting any type of supplement to avoid any unforeseen reaction.
Magnesium-rich foods to include in your diet:
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach
- Whole grains
- Pumpkin seeds
- Black beans
- Soy milk
Note: Before making any drastic inclusions or exclusions to your diet, it is necessary that you run it by your doctor first. It is best to work with your doctor as well as a nutritionist to come up with a diet plan that is best suited for your particular condition. It is also important to rule out the risk of an allergic reaction or medicinal interaction before starting a new food plan.
When to See a Doctor
Generalized weakness in the legs due to physical exertion comes and goes without raising any serious cause of concern.
However, if the condition becomes increasingly frequent or chronic, it is necessary to get yourself evaluated by a doctor to determine the underlying cause.
“Leg weakness can be a sign of a serious illness. Depending on the type of weakness, the problem can be traced back to a disorder of the central nervous system or peripheral nervous system, vascular, trauma, or other disease process. Thus, if someone is suffering from leg weakness, they should discuss it with their physician.
It’s not normal for people to have prolonged leg weakness, so make sure to have your doctor do a good examination and review possible treatments and diagnostics.” as suggested by Dr. Estelle Farrell, DO.
Only when a proper diagnosis has been reached will the doctor lay down an appropriate course of treatment.
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13 Hilarious “After Leg Day” Memes For People Who Really Train Legs
It’s easy to see why leg days are the most dreaded day of the workout week. It’s not necessarily about the pain you inflict upon yourself during the workout, but the agonizing days that come afterwards. Unfortunately, unless looking like Johnny Bravo or Spongebob is your idea of the perfect physique, you’re well aware of how important it is to train the calves, hamstrings, and quads. Chin up, we feel and understand your pain…
How you feel before and after
Sure, you might walk into the gym feeling like a million bucks, but that crawl out the door says otherwise. Don’t worry, we won’t judge you.
How you think you’ll spend the rest of your life
The next couple of days are the ones where you sit and reflect on your life, and regret going so hard on those deep squats. The pain goes away, stop being so dramatic.
How the parking lot feels miles long…
When and why did the gym decide to make the parking lot the size of 20 football fields? Although you’re parked on the first row, on leg days you might as well go ahead and multiply that distance times 3 miles.
And Getting in the car is a workout in itself
Remember all those movements you took for granted when your body was at 100%? Good luck raising your legs into your car.
When even the easiest things become impossible
Selfie? More like On-the-floor-ie. This is why there’s a lack of #legday pictures on social. No one wants to look at the hot mess that is you after a serious leg session.
When you have to do the worst squat of all
This is the moment in your life when you start weighing your options: Risk tears rolling down your face as you squat, or hope for the best as you attempt a standing…well, you know the rest,
Trying to convince people you’re not drunk
Don’t get stopped by law enforcement. Your legs are not your friends, they will not cooperate with you as you try to walk the line in hopes of convincing the officer that you aren’t drunk. Call your gym from jail, maybe they can better explain leg days to the judge.
Running? No thank you.
What insane person tries to run the day after? The bench is your friend, embrace the sitting position, since that’s all you can do for the next few days anyways.
How dramatic you can get because of the pain
Alright, alright, we get it. You can’t walk. No need to be a drama king/queen about it. Suck it up, hold back the tears and start taking your first steps.
Driving the dog on a walk.
Mr. Chunks needs to stretch his legs, which is more than you could do at the moment. Let the neighbors judge, at least your tree trunks are going to look awesome this summer.
Sorry Ma, My legs are out of order
You convinced mom that she needed a stair lift to help her get up the stairs, but you knew the day would come. That day is here and its name is leg day.
When your quads rebel against you.
Somehow you managed to crawl up the stairs. Guess how you’re going to get back down? Leave your dignity on the second floor, you won’t need it anymore.
Let’s do it all over again!
You’re not done yet. This is a pain you must experience every week if you know what’s good for you: a great set of legs. Better luck next week!
Human Performance Blog
3. Your Brain Doesn’t Distinguish Between Stresses
There’s a saying within the strength and conditioning industry: “Stress is stress is stress.” Because, to your body, all types of stress—psychological, physical, emotional, etc.—are the same. Physically, your central nervous system (the CNS, made up of your brain and spinal cord) processes all different kinds of stress the same way. So, if you’re stressed out because finals are coming up, your body reacts the same as it would if you were stressed from a fight with your girlfriend/boyfriend, or a chronic lack of sleep, or an intense training session. What does all this mean? It means that, when it comes to stress, your body is blind—which makes the way you organize your training sessions very important for mitigating CNS stress.
In order to see results (in the biz we say “adaptations”) from your training, it’s important to strategically manage your training stress vs. recovery. In other words, you can’t work out super hard every single day and expect to see the best results. Your body is a complex organism: it needs time to repair tissues damaged from training, and if you don’t allot enough time for healing and recovery between hard workouts, your body won’t be able to put forth your best effort toward training—making your training less effective. And, worse, too much training stress without enough recovery and you risk entering an “overtrained” state.
You would think that breaking your training sessions up according to body region (Leg Day) would allow for more recovery between intense workouts—but if you schedule a heavy leg day followed by a heavy chest/back day followed by a heavy abs day, your muscles may get a break but your CNS does not. Add in sport practice, games, relationships, school/work, and other weekly stressors, and you’ve got a recipe for overload. Because “stress is stress is stress,” your body experiences cumulative stress to your nervous system, which might manifest in symptoms of overtraining, like poor sleep quality, fluctuations in bodyweight, loss of appetite, general fatigue, susceptibility to infection, and decrease in performance.
By organizing your weekly training sessions in a high-low format (a high-intensity day follow by a low-intensity day, and so on), you not only allow your muscles to recover from the previous workout, you give your CNS enough time to deal with the internal stress of training. This undulated High-Low scheme lets you train for longer before needing a deload/unload week, and ensures that any high-intensity day is both preceded and followed by a low-intensity day—which lowers your chances of needing to miss a session due to overtraining symptoms.
Can’t walk after leg workout? 11 tips to make the pain go away
Leg day, am I right?
For most of us, it’s not exactly our favorite day of the week. (Or 2 days… or 3 days… depending on your program.)
Your legs can handle a lot of weight, and so when you’ve really pushed yourself, they end up SUPER SORE.
And unlike having some arms or shoulders, sore legs means you can often barely walk after squats or a leg workout.
So if you can’t walk after a leg workout on a regular basis, you’ve really got to invest some time in getting this problem fixed — unless you’re cool with waddling around in pain half the week!
The key to a pain-free leg day is proper warm-up, good form, and solid recovery. But we’ll go into a little more detail below.
Here are my favorite leg day recovery (and pain prevention) tips.
Why do you get so sore after leg day?
We know that our muscles get sore when we work them hard, whether that’s through lifting heavy weights, doing tons of reps, or burning them out through long or intense cardio.
That’s not exactly a secret.
But why do legs get more sore than your other muscles?
The simple answer is that there are many muscles in your legs, and they’re quite large… which means it’s a lot harder for them to recover.
(Smaller muscles like abdominals and biceps, for example, can recover much faster.)
But let’s break down the actual mechanisms of muscle soreness.
The first kind of muscle soreness is acute, or immediate soreness.
This one is simple and pretty self explanatory.
As you challenge your muscles, they build up something called lactic acid, which is what causes the familiar “burning sensation” you get right before your muscles fail.
It’s this quick onset soreness that you feel in the gym, between sets, or right after you finish your workout.
It typically won’t last more than a few minutes, or at worst, a few hours after you finish working out.
To recap quickly:
You can sometimes get sore muscles immediately after or during a workout
This is called acute muscle soreness
It’s caused by a build up of lactic acid in your muscles (burning sensation)
Usually goes away fairly quickly
The second kind of muscle soreness, and the kind that can make leg day miserable, is delayed soreness, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
DOMS is, well, exactly what it sounds like, and it explains why your legs are so sore the next day (or even two days) after a tough leg workout.
On a physiological level, the process of lifting weights and building muscle is quite brutal:
Lifting heavy weights literally causes microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. When these tears are repaired through rest, nutrition, and recovery, you build new muscle and gain strength.
But in the meantime, it hurts like hell! The micro-tears in your muscles will swell, become inflamed, and cause you some pain while they’re recovering.
To recap DOMS:
After really hard workouts, you’ll likely be at your most sore one or even two days later
Legs have especially brutal DOMS because the large muscle groups take longer to recover and heal
Micro-tears in your muscle fibers are agitated and sore while they heal, that’s why it hurts
Hear it straight from the experts:
I wanted to paint a fuller picture of leg day soreness, so I reached out to some trainers and fitness professionals to see what they had to say.
Robert Herbst, personal trainer and 19-time World Champion powerlifter
Robert says it comes down to people’s legs just not being used to the intense stress of weightlifting.
“People get more sore after leg day because they live sedentary lives and then lift heavier than they do on upper body days,” he says.
“People sit too much in front of the computer, in the car, watching TV, etc. Thus their legs are not used to a lot of use and heavy loads and stretching motions.”
“When they work legs, their muscles thus suffer more microtrauma so they get sorer, ” he adds. “To prevent this, they should try to be more active. They should also stretch on a daily basis to improve flexibility and range of motion.”
In other words, the best offense is a good defense! Stay active on rest days and work on your stretching and mobility to decrease soreness after heavy leg workouts.
Tim Liu, online fitness and nutrtion coach
Tim pins intense DOMS in your legs on the size of the muscle groups used and the amount of weight people tend to lift on leg day.
“You’re usually lifting much more weight with your legs than, say, your biceps. Your legs are also a big muscle group and you use them all the time, which explains why the DOMS is so severe after,” he says
“Some ways to help with soreness is to foam roll your legs the day after, going for a long walk, or doing some light bodyweight exercises such as squats and lunges to get blood flow to the area.”
Erin Motz, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and yoga teacher at Bad Yogi
Erin says a little yoga might be just the thing you need to warm up, limber up, and reduce soreness from leg day.
“A lot of ‘leg’ exercises recruit other body parts,” she says. “Deadlifts and squats are leg focused but use the entire body.”
So what to do? Warm up your entire body before jumping into heavy weights — AND make sure you stretch to cool down after.
“Dynamic warm-ups like a few basic sun salutations and cat/cow are great as are more static holds in downdog, seated forward folds, and poses like triangle & pyramid.”
Tips to walk normal after leg day (and prevent or alleviate DOMS)
So now that you understand a little bit of the science behind leg soreness, you know that it’s totally normal!
Painful DOMS is usually a sign that you busted your ass in the gym and that major gains and toned legs are on their way.
However, it kind of sucks when you have to waddle around after leg day, limp down the stairs, and wince in pain when you try to sit down.
So there are a few things you can do before, during, and after your leg day workout to help make your life a tiny bit easier.
1. Warm up properly
Working out with cold or stiff muscles is a recipe for disaster.
Not only are you more likely to get injured doing this, you’re also way more likely to be super sore afterwards.
Before jumping into your heavy squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc. consider doing a little light jogging or incline walking on the treadmill to loosen up your quads and hammies.
Get your blood flowing and your muscles warm!
It’s also a good idea to properly ramp up to your work sets, doing a few sets with just bodyweight or much lighter loads to accommodate your body to the movement pattern before you start really taxing your muscles.
2. Hydrate like crazy
This is just generally solid life and health advice, but it counts double for recovering from leg day.
Make sure you hydrate plenty before, during, and after your workout, as well as in the days following it while you recover.
Proper hydration helps your muscles heal and helps deliver nutrients to the parts of your body that need it the most.
There’s no hard and fast rule for this, but you’ll sometimes see health experts recommend the 8×8 approach — that’s eight 8 ounce glasses of water every day.
But you can also calculate it based on bodyweight.
According to Good Housekeeping:
Take your bodyweight in pounds and divide by 2.2
Multiply that number by 40 (if you’re under 30), 35 (if you’re 30-55), or 30 (if you’re 55+)
Divide by 28.3 to get the number of ounces of water you should drink every day.
It sounds complicated, and it’s probably a little bit of overkill!
Just make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids, and crank up the consumption around leg day.
3. Use better form during your leg workouts
Leg soreness is bad enough on its own. You really don’t want your back, knees, and other joints to be hurting, too, because your form is bad.
Take some time to correct your form, especially on your heaviest lifts like squats or deadlifts.
(These heavy compound movements have a LOT of nuance to the form that you need to nail as you learn to handle heavier and heavier loads.)
Find some form videos online (one of my favorites for the barbell squat is below) and study them to fix issues that may be holding you back from more gains, or that may be contributing to soreness in your knees or lower back, for example.
You should also consider filming yourself while you workout and watching it back later to spot form issues that could be making you more sore after leg day.
4. Stretch out those quads and hammies!
We talked about the importance of properly warming up, but just as important (and probably even more likely to be skipped) is a good cool-down session.
I know I am EXTREMELY guilty of this. After I lift heavy, I’m exhausted and ready to get the heck out of the gym.
But if you’re having major leg soreness or trouble walking, it’s probably going to be worth taking a few minutes to stretch after your leg day workout.
You don’t have to do anything crazy here, just get a nice deep stretch on your major leg muscles before you pack up and head home.
Make sure you hit your quadriceps and hamstrings, for sure, as those are big muscle groups that will hurt like hell if you don’t treat them well after a heavy lift.
5. Hit the stationary bike the next day
Once you’re in recovery mode (after your leg workout for the next two days or so), you’ll want really good blood flow so your muscles can get the nutrients they need to recover.
So even though you might be in pain, sitting on the couch doing nothing is probably not the right way to go.
Getting back to the gym, if possible, and doing some light resistance work on the stationary bike is PERFECT for leg recovery. It’s low impact, easy, and will promote great circulation.
It might hurt at first if your legs are really sore, but it should help alleviate the pain sooner than hiding out at home would!
6. Walk through the pain
Similarly, you could go for a long walk to loosen those leg muscles up the next day.
You’ve heard of “the hair of the dog that bit you?”
It’s kind of like how the absolute last thing you want when you’re hungover is alcohol, but a little bit of beer or a Bloody Mary or something can really take the bite out of your headache.
When your legs are stiff and in pain and you feel like you’re dying, the last thing you want to do is walk around, but it might be just the thing to loosen you up and get your lower half feeling better.
It’ll suck at first, but it should help you recover.
7. Ice those legs down
If you’re having a seriously brutal leg day hangover, it’s because you did some serious damage to your muscles on a microscopic level. (Congrats on a great workout!)
But as we talked about above, those little tears and abrasions are going to swell up and hurt like hell.
So what do you do when something swells up? You ice it down!
An ice pack on your legs will actually narrow the blood vessels and reduce the blood flow to the area, which will help the swelling go down and get you back on your feet.
8. Take an over the counter pain killer
If your quads are really killing you, you might want to consider taking the edge off with some Advil or Tylenol.
But is Advil or Tylenol better for sore muscles?
Both will probably work for the pain, but Advil (ibuprofen) is usually better for inflammation and muscle soreness, whereas Tylenol (acetaminophen) is better suited to headaches and the like.
Don’t overdo it, though, and start using pain killers as a cure-all for leg day soreness.
Every once in a while is OK if you really pushed it in the gym, but focus on better warm ups, cool downs, and recovery before you go relying on drugs.
Note: There is some evidence that anti-inflammatory drugs can inhibit muscle growth, so proceed with caution.
9. Use a foam roller
Click to see on Amazon
Foam rollers are a FANTASTIC accessory that can help you work out knots in your muscles, improve mobility, avoid injuries, and have better recovery after workouts.
Here’s a great resource with some awesome foam rolling exercises you can do after leg day.
When all else fails and the soreness is just too deep in your muscles, and you’re having trouble walking, using one of these bad boys can really help loosen you back up.
And if you’re looking to pick one up, here’s my favorite all-around foam roller on Amazon.
10. Use a high-quality BCAA (branch chain amino acids) for recovery
Sometimes, a high quality workout supplement can make a world of difference.
And if you’re having trouble with serious leg DOMS, a recovery formula like you’ll get in a BCAA might really help.
These essential amino acids aren’t created naturally by our body (we usually get them through food), but they play a massive role in turbo-charging protein synthesis after a workout, aka muscle recovery.
In other words, your muscles will heal and feel less sore much faster.
There are a lot of different ways to “load up” on BCAAs, but a simple way to do it is to make sure you’re getting around 10g per day, often before your workout for optimal performance and recovery.
Here’s a really great BCAA formula on Amazon to get you started.
11. Quit ego lifting
Finally, it’s possible that you’re just pushing yourself way too hard during your leg workouts and you’re paying the price for it.
If you’re working with weights you can’t really handle… yeah, you’re going to be sore.
If you’ve tried all of the above and you still find you can barely walk after leg day, it might be time for a deload.
Drop your squat weight (or lunges or whatever your program calls for) by 10-20% and take some of the load off of your muscles.
You can work your way back up quickly when you’re ready, but this should help some of the soreness in the meantime.
See, leg day doesn’t have to be a nightmare!
It’ll always be tough. After all, your legs can handle a lot of weight, and there’s something very taxing about heavy squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc.
But with a little preparation and planning, you don’t have to limp or waddle around after your leg workouts. There are other ways to live!
(Bonus tip: I didn’t mention it above because I didn’t want to suggest altering your workout program, but there’s definitely anecdotal evidence that if you actually train your legs more often, you’ll get less sore.)
I hope this has helped! And let me know in the comments your favorite leg day recovery hacks.
On the day after leg day, the mere act of sitting down on the couch can seem like the most difficult task in the world. Netflix binging difficulties aside, though, nursing sore muscles after a workout isn’t necessarily a bad sign. “Muscle soreness happens when you either do a new exercise that requires the use of different muscles you’re not accustomed to working, or it could be the product of strenuous exertion,” says Akin Akman, co-founder of AARMY. “It’s good in the sense that you’ve worked to your capacity. I associate muscle soreness to progress.”
In the meantime, though, the fruits of your labor can be really unpleasant. So we asked a few experts about the tricks they use to fight post-exercise muscle soreness and get back into gym- or run- or spin-ready shape as soon as possible. You’ve probably heard some of these tips before. Others are a little more unconventional. But on days when every movement is accompanied by a wince, they all might be worth a shot.
1. Start with the basics
The amount of sleep you need varies based on your activity level, which means you should try to get as much sleep as possible when your body aches just won’t go away. Studies show that meditation can help reduce chronic pain in adults, too. “Mental and emotional health are a big part of conditioning and proper recovery,” Akman says. “Always get a good night’s sleep, but also, take naps midday when you need to.”
Similarly, you can’t eat chips for dinner and expect to feel better. (This is true, it should be noted, even if you didn’t work out recently.) This regimen can be as simple as a post-workout protein shake, or a lot more involved than that. “After heavy training sessions, I always make sure I drink my protein and fast-acting carbs to help the muscle healing process,” explains Yavuz Akman, a founding trainer at AARMY. “Usually about 10 minutes after that, I take vitamin C and B-12 (for antioxidants and red blood cell production). An hour after that, I typically eat chicken and rice. I always make sure I drink a lot of water throughout the day as well. This is so important for proper recovery and alleviating extreme soreness.”
2. Consider CBD
Studies on the effects of CBD aren’t conclusive, but many people swear by it to help them get a good night’s rest and alleviate muscle pain. One recent study found that regular consumption of CBD reduced the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in saliva, which suggests that it needs to be a regular habit in order for people to see results.
“CBD can work to decrease inflammation in the body, reduce muscle soreness through the use of rubs or salves, and balance our stress response, whether physical or mental,” says Jason Loebig, a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp in Chicago. “It’s best utilized immediately post-workout or before bed (especially in tincture form) to recover from intense physical activity or aid with sleep.”
3. Get in some (very light) cardio
You need to prepare your muscles for intense weight training—which means if you go to the gym without warming up, you’re allowing your muscles to experience delayed-onset soreness, or DOMS, that much quicker. Warm-ups matter because they boost blood circulation, which is what helps muscles heal. And while you can’t go back in time and change what you did before you did whatever it was that made you so sore, you can start changing your approach when you make your glorious gym return.
What causes muscle soreness after working out?
Have you ever wondered why certain forms of exercise result in muscle soreness?
The technical term for muscle soreness after working out is DOMS, which stands for delayed-onset muscle soreness. Besides feeling sore, this term also includes reduced range of motion and muscle strength. You will usually experience this 24-48 hours after you try new activities/exercises or increase the intensity of your workout.
There is a myth that DOMS is caused by lactic acid build-up. Lactic acid only lasts in your muscles 1-2 hours after finishing a workout, so that’s not likely the cause. Resistance training causes micro-tears of muscle fibers, which draws increased blood flow and inflammation to the area (you may even notice some mild swelling), which stimulates the pain receptors in the muscle cell and makes them more sensitive to movement. The muscle damage is temporary, and as the muscle rebuilds itself in response to this process, it gets stronger and can handle heavier loads.
How to deal with muscle soreness
Although DOMS is a natural process that indicates your body is getting stronger, there are some things you can do at home to reduce the discomfort. Here are some tips:
- Try longer warm ups before your resistance training
- Take an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salts are high in magnesium, which help promote muscle relaxation and improved circulation
- Do a gentle workout such as light cardio or stretching and yoga a day or two after an intense workout. Pick up the intensity again after the pain is gone
Did you know your chiropractor can help you with injury prevention? See your community chiropractor to learn more.
Sources 1Everything you need to know about delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Lifecare Cottesloe Physiotherapy. https://www.cottesloephysiotherapy.com.au/blogs/2017/10/24/everything-you-need-to-know-about-delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-doms . Published October 24, 2017. Accessed March 1, 2018. 2What causes muscle soreness after exercising. Today I Found Out. http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/08/what-causes-muscle-soreness-after-exercising-note-its-not-lactic-acid/ . Published August 6, 2010. Accessed March 1, 2018. 3Feeling sore 2 days after working out? Here’s why. Fitbit Blog. https://blog.fitbit.com/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness/ . Published November 6, 2015. Accessed March 1, 2018.After leg day GIF