Sore muscles: what really helps?
Everyone knows it – the stinging, pulling pain after physical exertion – we're talking about muscle soreness. But how does this actually occur and what helps to relieve sore muscles? Find out in today's blog post.
Table of contents
- What is muscle soreness?
- How do sore muscles develop?
- How to prevent muscle soreness?
- What helps against sore muscles?
What is muscle soreness?
Sore muscles cause small tears in the individual muscle fibers, which cause the typical muscle pain around 12 to 24 hours after excessive training or unusual movements. Basically, muscle soreness is something completely normal and if it does not occur regularly is harmless. Mild muscle soreness even has a positive training effect, as the body repairs the small damages in the muscle perfectly and they can withstand greater strain afterwards (for example through muscle growth).
How does muscle soreness develop?
In the past, muscle soreness was thought to be caused by lactate (lactic acid), but this hypothesis has since been refuted. Today, it is assumed that small tears in the muscle fibers are responsible for the pain due to the overloading of the muscles.Our muscles consist of individual muscle fibers, which are made up of small subunits known as sarcomeres. The sarcomeres are connected to each other via Z-discs. If the muscles become sore, small tears occur precisely at these points. A inflammatory reaction of the body is the response: water slowly penetrates and the muscle swells. However, the typical pain does not occur immediately, as there are no pain receptors within the muscle fiber. The pain only occurs 12 to 24 hours later. It is at its worst on the second or third day.The intensity of the pain depends on the physical strain. For example, the pain is stronger after so-called eccentric movements (e.g. descending stairs – braking movements) than when walking uphill (concentric movement).
How to prevent sore muscles
To make sure it doesn't get that far and you don't suffer from the annoying pain, you should take a few suggestions to heart:
Don't overdo it and take it slow if you've had a long break from training. Increase your workout gradually and try to integrate your training regularly into your everyday life.
Warm up before every sports session and incorporate light movements into your workout after training (e.g. running out while jogging). This is because gradual warm-up and stretching before exercise increase muscular performance and reduce the risk of overstraining.
What helps against sore muscles?
If you do end up with sore muscles, take note of the following tips:
- In order for the weakened muscles to relax, warmth is particularly important. This is because the warmth expands the blood vessels and the damaged muscle fibers are better supplied with nutrients. Hot bubble baths or sauna sessions (especially directly after exercise) can alleviate the symptoms. Gentle massages can also promote circulation in the muscles. However, you should avoid vigorous massages as they cause additional irritation to the muscles.
- Success with sore muscles is also achieved by light exercise such as easy jogging or cycling. Under no circumstances should the sore muscle group be strained too much, as this can lead to more serious injuries .
- A protein-rich diet is also recommended before and after sport to combat sore muscles. The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in particular have shown the best effect in various studies. They promote the regeneration and recovery of muscle groups.
- According to studies, athletes are also less prone to muscle soreness after training if they have consumed caffeine before or immediately after their workout. That's why many of our sports supplements contain caffeine, such as our protein powder in the cappuccino flavor or our booster.