It hits you in the middle of the pulses. You’re down to the final 8, and you just know it: tomorrow is going to be brutal. You can already see your feet hitting the ground in the morning and the tenderness branching throughout your legs, or your arms aching as you try to shampoo your hair in the shower. It may be your first class, or it may be your fiftieth, but you can already feel the soreness and its imminence.
While there is no surefire way to completely eliminate soreness, there are ways to narrow it. Translation: maybe these tips will help you groan a little less each time you sit down in a chair the next day.
Get in a foam roller
This one may be a bit of a “duh,” but foam rollers are a bit of a life-saver if you haven’t already invested in one. Think of it, essentially, as a massage: it promotes healing blood flow throughout the muscle. Plus, it lengthens your muscles and adds benefits on top of stretching. Use it after your class and the next day. You can find foam rollers at Walmart, Target, Amazon, and Dick's Sporting Goods.
Okay, another “duh,” but sometimes that muscle soreness is caused because you’re not knocking back enough H2O. Don’t chug it all at once, but the Mayo Clinic advises women to drink 2.2 liters of water a day (that’s about 9 cups). Just remember: when in doubt water is always a good idea.
But also, drink coffee
No, you’re not asleep. This is your dream coming true. Well, for some of us it is. Researchers have found that women with consistently low caffeine ingestion reduced post-workout pain up to 50 percent with a pre-workout coffee, making it more effective than pain relievers. As for those who drink coffee like it’s the elixir of life (ahem, me, Kelsey), they aren’t so sure about us just yet. I’m crossing my fingers for a big-fat yes. If you fall into my category on this one, keep in mind that doctors still recommend that you drink coffee prior to a workout to improve brain function, endurance, AND burn more fat. Ann Kulze, M.D. says DRINK TWO CUPS of coffee before your workout. We like you, Ann. Basically, there’s a blog post coming with the health benefits of coffee. You’re welcome. But do mind the moderation rule here: you don’t want your heart to be a-fluttering or—um—be running to the bathroom during your class (and not for #1).
Take a bath
No, not because you’re sweaty (although, if we’ve done our job, you’re hopefully a teeeeensy bit sweaty), but to constrict the blood vessels in your muscles. This doesn’t mean that you have to jump into a bath full of ice water (thank God), but a lukewarm bath or shower mixed in with intervals of cold water can aid muscle recovery.
It may be the last thing you want to do, but adding a swift walk or a few minutes of moderate cycling to your day will get the blood pumping, and in turn, get oxygen back into the muscles. But don’t take this as a cue to run x-amount of miles the next day: gentle is the keyword here.