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Rehabilitation strategies for muscle soreness

Muscle soreness is common: It is not wise to continuously beat our bodies up without taking the time out to stretch, rest and recover (Photograph supplied)

Muscle soreness is not a prerequisite for fat loss or weight growth but, yeah, it’s inevitable.

Many of us experience soreness and fatigue during, and after, a workout.

Being sore is common and without sufficient recovery time, injuries can follow. It is not wise to continually beat our bodies up without taking the time to stretch, rest and recover.

Today, we will take a more scientific look at what happens when we work out and how to combat the soreness involved. My hope is that you will be encouraged to treat your body with kindness; continue to be the warrior that you are and remain true to your journey.

What happens when you work out? You create microscopic tears to your muscles. Your body rushes in to fix them, in the form of inflammation. Meanwhile, something called oxidative stress occurs, thinking that what is happening is cells dying.

How can we recover from it?

Muscle soreness can be mitigated by having a well-planned and executed warm-up and cool down.

•• First, you need to raise your heart rate and ensure that your muscles and tendons are flexible and ready for you to go all out.

•• You then need to bring your heart rate down and allow your muscles to deflate to ensure that your body returns to its pre-exercise state.

•• Use a foam roller to massage tight muscles.

•• Go for a light jog, stretch, or simply go for a brief, relaxing walk.


•• Eat protein within one hour of training to get those restorative building block amino acids back into your body.

•• Eat antioxidant-rich foods.

Anti-inflammatory foods to eat:


Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and other berries provide antioxidants known as anthocyanins believed to reduce inflammation and boost immunity.

Fatty fish

Fatty fish hold high amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

Although all types of fish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies are among the best sources.

In addition

Broccoli, avocados, green tea, peppers, grapes, turmeric, dark chocolate and cocoa, tomatoes and cherries are also recovery foods. Do your best to keep inflammation in check by choosing a wide variety of delicious, antioxidant-rich foods.

Ice baths

These force fresh restorative nutrients and oxygen to your muscles. This recovery technique is more suited for pro-athlete training routines or high-rep routines such as CrossFit. Logistically, this is more challenging but it can be rewarding.

Massage therapy

Five minutes using a foam roller across major muscles groups during your warm-up and cooldown. A professional deep tissue massage.

Deep, quality sleep

You need between seven and eight hours of sleep for your cells to go into recovery overdrive. Shut off all electronics and attempt to go to bed an hour earlier.

Recovery priority list

Each method is impactful, however for the sake of convenience, funds and efficacy, I recommend the following prioritised approaches to recovery:

1. Get seven to eight hours of quality sleep.

2. Do a workout-specific warm-up.

3. Cool down for five to ten minutes with a low-impact exercise or stretch.

4. Use your foam roller to massage your tight muscles.

5. Eat high antioxidant and protein-rich foods as soon as possible after a workout.

6. See a professional massage therapist.

7. Take an ice bath.

Dre Hinds is a retired track and field athlete who is now a personal trainer, aerobic and yoga instructor and fitness “addict” with more than 20 years’ experience. She specialises in nutrition, weight and sprint training, operating out of HindsSight Fitness and Wellness at the Berkeley Cultural Centre. Contact: absbydre@gmail.com, 599-0412 or @Absbydre on Facebook and Instagram