We’ve all been there before. One day we’re at the gym feeling like the next Olympic Gold medalist, setting new personal records left and right, and then the next day we feel like we got hit by a freight train. Muscular soreness is a normal part of working out and a sign that you actually did something worthwhile. Soreness that lingers for too long, however, can be counterproductive to your training. Lingering soreness can prevent you from training and continuing to test yourself. It’s best to be able to recover quickly and train again as soon as possible.
In the ’80s and ’90s, the consensus regarding post-workout soreness was that you had to rest as much as possible and avoid working sore muscles at all costs. Thanks to the latest research, we’ve discovered that the best way to speed recovery from PWO soreness is to continue moving. You see, when you move and challenge those muscles, your heart will pump blood directly to the affected areas. Along with that blood, you get fresh nutrients and oxygen that help to rebuild those tissues more quickly. Recovery compression gear is very popular for this same reason as compression serves to facilitate blood flow. So now that we know that we have to keep moving, let’s talk about a few exercises that help to ease your soreness. First, let’s go over a few guidelines:
A Quick Primer
You can use virtually any exercise to help ease post-workout soreness if you do it correctly. The trick here is to use a much lighter load and focus on getting a good pump. Remember, the idea is to draw blood to the area to help those tissues rebuild. Wearing high-performance activewear while performing these exercises will help enhance your circulation. Keep the focus on light resistance and moving around. If you go for a heavy workout targeting muscles that are already sore, you might do more harm than good. Now let’s get into some of the exercises:
Familiarize yourself with sled training. It is an amazing tool for recovery and performance enhancement. You can work virtually every muscle with a sled. Without getting into the finer details too much, we can say that using a sled to target sore muscles is one of the best approaches to enhancing your recovery.
Studies show that the eccentric portion of a resistance exercise, or the “negative,” is primarily responsible for the muscular soreness we experience after an intense workout. While dragging a sled, the negative portion of the lift is actually removed. This means that you can focus on the concentric portion of the lift and pump blood to the affected muscles without creating any additional soreness. Try dragging a sled for longer distances and lighter weights when your main goal is to get a pump and reduce soreness.
The bear crawl is a beast of an exercise. It’s a very challenging one to do over long distances. For recovery purposes, limit the distance as to not make it too intense of a workout. The bear crawl works great to help reduce muscular soreness because it is a full body exercise and you can encourage plenty of circulation while doing it. As a side note, remember that if you find these too challenging, then it’s best to use them in your primary workout instead.
One of the main benefits of the bear crawl is that you don’t need any equipment to perform it. All you need is a bit of space. You can perform these without heading to the gym. Just find an open space to perform them and get to it.
The day after an intense leg workout is where you are reminded of why a lot of people skip leg days entirely. Simple movements like bending over to tie your shoes or picking yourself up off the floor become a fight for your life basically. Fortunately, you don’t have to struggle! Bodyweight squats are the perfect exercise for loosening up and easing those post-workout woes. They hit every muscle in the lower body and if you are an intermediate or advanced athlete, these should be very easy to perform.
Try doing some high-rep sets the day after a leg workout and you should cut your recovery time down a bit. You can use recovery compression gear to enhance the blood flow and get those muscles healing quicker. Remember: The key is to stay active but doesn’t challenge yourself too much or you will exacerbate the soreness.
The push up is a great exercise to perform after a tough, pressing workout. Again, the aim is to get a good pump going and rack up the reps here. If a conventional push up is difficult to perform, try doing a push up with your hands on an elevated surface. This modification will make the exercise much easier.
We want to stress that these are just some of the options to add into your recovery-focused workouts, but you can use practically any exercise as long as you know how to apply it correctly. You want to be sure to stick with high repetitions and lower weights as that is the best way to encourage blood flow to the affected area. Avoid using heavy weights for recovery workouts, as lifting heavier weights taxes your nervous system and can hinder your strength gains. Keep it light and enjoy the process. Your recovery workouts are not the correct time to break personal records. That should be your focus during your regular workouts. For greater results from your recovery workouts, don’t forget to wear compression gear to encourage more blood flow to those sore muscles.