Prior to doing the 21 Day Fix, I was in the middle of P90X3. Before that, I completed Focus T25. I have consistently been working out 6 days a week for the past 10 months. I've had muscle soreness at the beginning of each workout program; however, I experienced a bit more soreness after my first week of 21 Day Fix workouts. To be honest, I was in shock! I was so focused on what the nutritional end of the program would be like that I didn't put much thought into what the workouts would be like. I am not down playing any of the other fitness programs that I have done because believe me, I was sore with each of them and also got great results, but the soreness I was experiencing this time just seemed a bit more than usual. I knew I was working my legs, especially my quads more than usual and I was also incorporating weights, which makes a huge difference.
Muscle Soreness vs Pain
Muscle Soreness vs Pain
As I was checking in with my 21 Day Fix challenge group, I noticed that everyone had the same comments...."I am so sore!!!" As weird as it sounds, it's a good sore. That's proof that the program is working and that you are on your way to meeting your health and fitness goals. It's important; however, to understand the difference between muscle soreness and pain. They are NOT the same thing and should not be confused. Muscle soreness is more of a dull, uncomfortable ache in your muscles. It may be slightly uncomfortable to walk up and down steps or sit down and stand up in a chair. Pain, on the other hand, is very uncomfortable. With pain, you may feel a sharp sensation in your bones, joints, and muscles. When it comes down to it, muscle soreness is normal, pain is not. The only way to avoid muscle soreness is to not work out at all, which would not get you to your goal body! If at any point during a workout you truly feel pain, then you should stop immediately. In addition, if you are experiencing pain after a workout, which includes swelling and extreme tenderness, then you should consult your doctor right away.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
This is the type of soreness that you are most likely familiar with. It is the soreness that you feel when you get out of bed the next morning and lasts up to a day or two. It could potentially last a little longer, especially for those who are not used to daily exercise. DOMS is caused by microscopic tears inside the muscles. This usually happens after an intense, new, and/or challenge workout. It takes times for your body to repair that muscle, which is why you feel the lingering soreness for up to 72 hours. The good news is, once you experience the soreness from a particular workout, the same workouts should not make you as store (or sore at all) in the future. Your muscles will have gotten stronger and you will be able to better handle the workout.
You can not fully prevent soreness after a workout, but there are certainly things that you can do to help so that it is not as bad.
1. Be sure to do a warm up and cool down before each workout. I know, it is so tempting to turn off your workout when it is time to cool down, but there is a reason you are suppose to cool down. Your muscles are warm and flexible and you are better able to stretch, which will help with the soreness.
2. When starting a new exercise program, progress in to it at a slow pace. This is especially for people who are not used to exercising. If your program has a modifier, follow it! By doing so, your muscles will be continually challenged and will build over time.
3. Do not stop moving while exercising. Even when you have a 30 second rest, move around while you are grabbing your drink. In addition, don't completely stop moving and just lay down when the workout is over. Naturally decrease your heart rate.
4. Stay hydrated while working out AND after! Even if your fitness program does not takes breaks, keep your water bottle near you for easy access. Water can help flush out the toxins, so the more water you drink, the better. If you do not drink enough throughout the day, the soreness may worse or even cause muscle cramps.
5. Eat a post-workout snack that has the proper carb to protein ratio, which will help to restore the nutrients lost in the muscles throughout the workout. Your muscles need protein for repair and growth, and it also needs carbs to replenish its glycogen stores. Shakeology is actually a GREAT post workout snack because it is the perfect combination of protein to carbs along with all the essential amino acids and nutrients your body needs to recover from your intense workout. Other ideas include:
1. Cottage Cheese paired with fruit
2. An apple with a Tbsp all natural peanut butter
3. A small banana with 12 raw unsalted almonds
4. Greek Yogurt
5. Egg White Omelet
In any case, what you DON'T want to do is be a couch potato! Yes, your body does need rest; however, that does not mean you can not exercise. By performing active recovery, like walking or even yoga, it is better than sitting around doing nothing. It will help to increase your circulation, which in turn, helps speed muscle recovery. My rule of thumb is to never intensely work out the same muscle groups two days in a row. If you are doing an upper body workout one day, then move to a lower body workout the next. You should be fine with light cardio as well.
I know that muscle pain is no fun; however, in order to get the results that you are looking for, muscle soreness is going to be a part of the process.