How Can You Prevent Soreness?

How can you prevent soreness? Some pain is unavoidable in your quest to get a fit and healthy body, but hopefully not too much! Read on for more.

Some pain is unavoidable in your quest to get a fit and healthy body, but hopefully not too much!

How can you prevent soreness?

How can you treat soreness that you already have?

Is there anything you can do to make it less likely that you will get as sore? Things you can do during your workout (like stretching or starting slow with your new program), or after (like taking protein, HMB, or glutamine)?

Should you use cardio or stretching the next day to get the blood flowing or will that just make it worse?

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Soreness is a condition commonly brought on by weight training. It is seen most prevalently in individuals who have just begun to perform resistance exercise, are resuming their training after a prolonged layoff, or have made a drastic change in their program.

Although the precise details of the mechanisms that cause soreness are unknown, "what is certain is that lactic acid (a transient by-product of muscle contraction) has nothing to do with it" (Rippetoe 212), effectively knocking out any myth-driven possibility of associating the two with each other.

What Is Lactic Acid?

Lactic Acid is mostly made by muscle tissue and red blood cells. When the oxygen level in the body is normal, carbohydrate breaks down into water and carbon dioxide. When the oxygen level is low, carbohydrate breaks down for energy and make lactic acid.

Lactic acid levels get higher when strenuous exercise or other conditions-such as heart failure, a severe infection (sepsis), or shock-lower the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Lactic acid levels can also get higher when the liver is severely damaged or diseased, because the liver normally breaks down lactic acid.

Interestingly, it is an occurrence that has triggered the rise of countless questions concerning it. Although the issue regarding soreness seems legitimate, it is one undeserving of such excessive worry and attention.

Ironically enough, some questions about soreness point to some peculiar intrinsic desire to achieve soreness after every workout, the reason being that these individuals have a fixation on using soreness as the sole marker for results and hypertrophy development. The basic question, then, is, "If I am no longer feeling soreness after my workouts, does it mean that the quality of my workouts has dropped?" Certainly not.

Aside from misinformed hearsay, a probable explanation for the soreness myth can be traced back to a beginner's initial workouts, the aftereffects of which would likely be the onset of soreness as well as a marked increase in target muscle size.

Oftentimes, with the propensity for beginners to favor training of their arms or chest, the "growth" is especially noticeable. The reality, however, is that much of this "growth" is the result of the temporary diversion of carbohydrates, in the form of glycogen, and water towards muscle stores.

And although neuromuscular adaptation mechanisms and myofibrillar hypertrophy are taking place within the body, short-lived but exaggerated initial sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is masking those gains, and so the individual tends to instinctively draw a positive association only between muscle soreness and muscle size. Neural drive and strength development are tossed out the window.

What Does Herein Mean?

Myofibrillar hypertrophy is a type of hypertrophy (growth and increase of the size of muscle cells) in which the myofibrils in a muscle cell increase in number and add to muscular strength as well as a small increase in the size of the muscle.

Due to the limited extent to which water and glycogen can be stored within our muscles, this phenomenal increase in visible growth tapers off quite rapidly. At the same time, soreness begins to dissipate as the individual becomes more and more conditioned to his training protocol.

Is it no wonder that one would argue that there is a correlation between the two? They are both observed to heighten and abate with respect to each other, and so one cannot blame the camp that sees fit to train exclusively for soreness. Aside from those individuals, there is that other group of people that wishes to reduce or prevent soreness entirely.

How Can You Prevent Soreness?

It is not a matter of preventing soreness, but rather minimizing both the frequency and severity with which it occurs.

Solutions to this problem are anecdotal at best. Two widespread beliefs regarding how to prevent muscle soreness are glutamine supplementation and, of course, stretching. In all honesty, there exists too much controversy to settle on a definitive answer. The available studies always contradict each other. Stretching is an especially questionable practice.



In a 1995 study published in the German magazine Sportmedizin, neither static stretching nor pre-workout stretching of any sort reduced post-workout muscle soreness, but rather aggravated it (Sportzmedizin 9:411-421).

This discovery was consolidated by a 2002 study performed at the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney that concluded that stretching in amateur athletes did not alleviate soreness (British Medical Journal 325:468-470). A 2003 study in Manual Therapy landed on the same conclusions.



As for glutamine, there "is no scientific evidence for a beneficial effect of oral glutamine supplementation on muscle repair after exercise-induced damage and no evidence of reduced muscle soreness when consuming glutamine compared with placebo" (Gleeson).

Mind you, there are just as many studies supporting stretching and glutamine supplementation as there are refuting it. The point here is that their efficacy is questionable, and the results are not consistent enough to warrant recommendation of either of these as preventative measures in warding off soreness.

How Can You Treat Soreness That You Already Have?

Aside from protein ingestion post-workout, there are other less feasible (but still worth the try) measures one may take to reduce soreness, which may or may not work depending on the person. Take these with a grain of salt.


Direct Icing

Direct icing of the muscle has been shown to reduce inflammation and soreness.


Alternating Hot-And-Cold Showers

Alternating hot-and-cold showers, which appear to be similar in function to cardiovascular exercise, may improve blood circulation and alleviate soreness. However, although the hot shower dilates the blood vessels, it has been said to simultaneously increase inflammation as well.

For this reason, it is recommended that the shower be alternated with and end with cold water. On that same token, a session in the sauna may need to end with a dip under a showerhead spewing cold water. As an aside, Icy Hot may operate under a similar mechanism.


Eccentric Reps

As implied by more recent studies, limiting exaggeration of the eccentric (lowering) portion of reps may reduce the degree to which soreness is experienced, which, then again, is rather self-defeating as the eccentric induces more microtrauma to the muscle, which is what most of us want. Microtears in the muscle, by the way, are the more probable cause for muscle soreness, as suggested by contemporary studies.

Training Through Soreness

A curious thing to note is that it is perfectly fine to train through soreness, as it actually decreases soreness and increases fitness. According to Bryan Haycock, the founder of Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST), research has shown that muscles are designed to recuperate from microtrauma even while undergoing concurrent bouts of trauma (exercise), a premise made apparent in some training styles where such exercises as squats are performed every workout (i.e., three times a week, as on Mark Rippetoe's program and the 5x5).

Soreness will dissipate rather quickly once the body adapts. Of course, to be smart about it, one would have to lower either training load or volume to compensate for the increased frequency, but the premise is to continue to train and to do so relatively frequently against a backdrop of soreness. In addition, training frequency is negatively correlated with soreness.

"Waiting before soreness subsides before doing the next workout is a good way to guarantee that soreness will be produced every time, since the athlete never gets adapted to sufficient workload frequency to stop getting sore" (Rippetoe 213).

The implication: if one's training frequency is relatively high, soreness will dissipate much more quickly than with infrequent training, which will only prolong it.

"Soreness, unless it is extreme, is no impediment to training. In fact, many records have been set by sore athletes" (Rippetoe 213). And so, soreness is not a terrible monster that needs to be avoided at all costs. It is a normal occurrence that accompanies training and can be ignored, unless it is noticeably excessive. "But, in general, if the warm-up returns the movement to its normal range of motion, the workout can be done" (Rippetoe 213).

Is There Anything You Can Do To Make It Less Likely That You Will Get As Sore?

Again, the legitimacy of stretching and glutamine supplementation is debatable. With that being said, there are a number of anecdotal techniques reported to have alleviated soreness in some individuals. But they are just that - anecdotal. One strong exception is post-workout ingestion of protein.

A 54-day study conducted in late 2003 that involved random assignment of healthy U.S. Marine recruits to three different treatments showed that, compared against a placebo and control group (carb-protein-fat gram ratios being 0:0:0 and 8:0:3, respectively), post-exercise protein ingestion (8:10:3) resulted in an average of "37% fewer [medical] visits due to muscle/joint problems" (Flakoll et al. 96:951-956).

More relevantly, muscle soreness "immediately post exercise was reduced by protein supplementation vs. placebo and control groups on both days 34 and 54" (Flakoll et al. 96:951-956).

Below is a diagram taken from the study with an accompanying description detailing the results of the study among the three groups and their immediate and delayed effects on muscle soreness.

Figure 1
+ Click To Enlarge.
Figure 1.

"Fig. 1. Changes in muscle soreness score units from the initial day to either day 34 (A) or the final day (B). Pla, placebo (0 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 0 g fat); Con, control (8 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 3 g fat); Pro, protein supplement (8 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein, 3 g fat).

Measurements were made either immediately after exercise (left) or the day after exercise (right). Values are means. SE. Positive values represent increased muscle soreness, and negative values represent decreased muscle soreness. *P < 0.05 difference for Pro vs. Pla and Con" (Flakoll et al. 96:951-956).

Aside from protein ingestion post-workout, another feasible measure one may take during the actual workout is warming up.

Rather than stretching first when one is "cold," one would do well to "warm up" either by performing repetitions with a light weight or going for a short run to improve synovial fluid viscosity, which aids in joint cushioning. To quote the age-old adage, when being pulled, "cold taffy breaks, warm taffy doesn't." There is no sense in stretching a cold muscle. Put it off until after warming up.

What about HMB? HMB is short for beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate, a metabolite of the essential amino acid leucine that was first brought to my attention in Bill Phillips' book Body for Life. Studies have shown that supplementation with HMB can significantly reduce muscle soreness, especially when taken in conjunction with creatine. These two are just about the only supplements with some credibility as far as muscle soreness reduction is concerned.

Should You Use Cardio Or Stretching The Next Day To Get The Blood Flowing Or Will That Just Make It Worse?

Cardio is actually quite effective in ridding the muscles of any cellular debris and waste that might have accumulated during intense weight training. Consequently, transport of nutrients and oxygen to the muscle is optimized, and there is some marginal benefit to dissipation of soreness.

Stretching in a cold state should be avoided, seeing how it actually increases the risk of injury due to the low viscosity of the synovial fluid. Stretching after cardio, on the other hand, is more reasonable. Even then, one should take care to avoid certain stretches that actually contribute to injury.

Of particular notoriety (and worthy of being mentioned at the cost of digression) is the straight-legged standing toe touch (even worse for people who aim past the toes and touch the floor), which was meant to stretch the hamstrings. And while hamstring flexibility is temporarily increased, the damage this can deal to the back far outweighs any justifications for continuing to do it.

From the very beginning, the signature rounded back should be a red flag to anyone observing someone performing this stretch. Overflexion of the spine - the culprit for the majority of back pain - is what occurs here.

We have always been taught not to round our backs and to bend at the knees when picking up something from the floor. Yet we ignore this simple tidbit of advice and round our backs just about 365 days out of the year. Every time we hunch over to scope the fridge shelves, when we pick up our laundry baskets, or when we bend over to tie our shoes, we are putting our backs in a precarious position.

Many stretches only aggravate the condition and facilitate the onset of debilitating back pain; toe stretches, butterfly stretches, down-the-middle splits, you name it.

Poor form in everyday activity is horrible by itself; making it a stretch is adding insult to injury. Why not top it all off with heavy deadlifts with a rounded back? One must pick and choose among the myriad of stretches and make an informed decision on which stretches benefit us, and which ones don't.

In the case of back health, one must choose to perform stretches that involve normal kyphotic and lordotic curvature of the spine (in the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine, respectively). Discouraged from stretching yet? If its next-to-nonexistent benefits on soreness don't deter you, then its potential for increasing injury will. Please pardon the digression.

There are certainly some measures that one can take in preventing soreness, although they are few and far between. And even if more surefire methods to combating soreness were discovered, moderate soreness was never such a serious condition to begin with.

Second Place ManInTheBox

Some pain is unavoidable in your quest to get a fit and healthy body, but hopefully not too much!

When you workout hard, you are doing a combination of breaking down and stimulating muscle tissue. In order for muscle to be built and grow, these processes have to take place. Though the results are extremely rewarding, some of the pain that we have to endure both during and after our workouts can be debilitating, and sometimes interfere with everyday activities.

In this article we are going to look at a few methods that you can use to help ease the soreness, and even prevent it.

How Can You Prevent Soreness?

Before getting too in depth about how we can prevent muscle soreness, we need to take a look at what muscle soreness is, and a few myths that go along with the development and treatment of muscle soreness.

I feel there is no one in this world who knows more about muscle soreness than me (I'm sure you feel the same too). We have all experienced the days of lingering soreness, whether it be tenderness in the chest, the aching in your legs, or the sting of extending a sore tricep, we've all been there. Just what is this discomfort that we are feeling? Is it that lactic acid that everyone talks about?

No. Lactic acid is not what is responsible for the lingering soreness that interrupts our daily activities. To put it simply, lactic acid is the burn that you feel in a muscle while you are working out.

Take bicep curls for example, when you are repeatedly curling the weight you begin to develop a burning sensation in your bicep. Generally after doing 6-8 reps with a fairly challenging weight, this burn becomes almost unbearable, and this is when you see many people set the weight down.

This burning sensation is when your muscles do not get enough oxygen (anaerobic), and this acid begins forming. I will tie this element in later when we look at what supplements can be used to help with muscle soreness.

The culprit of true muscle soreness is what we call delayed onset muscle soreness, also referred to as DOMS. Recent studies have shown that DOMS is not due to lactic acid build up, but rather the microscopic tears that your muscles endure during exercise. Especially when entering a new training regimen, your body will experience awful soreness.

The body is an extremely adaptable machine, which is why training cycles exist always calling for changing every 6-8 weeks. When you perform an exercise repeatedly, your body will teach itself how to execute the movement more effectively and efficiently, thus building strength.

For most bodybuilders, we like to change up our training routines frequently to keep our bodies from adapting, and this is why muscle soreness is so pertinent to us. The important thing to keep in mind is that this muscle soreness is what induces muscle growth, as this is the pain from broken down muscle tissue that will soon grow back, thus resulting in hypertrophy (muscle growth).

Now the question is, how can we prevent this? There are several things that you can do to help with muscle soreness, but nothing that guarantees complete absence of muscle soreness.

Firstly, the best way to start off a workout, for anyone is by warming up via cardio. Getting ample blood flow to your tissues, and warming up your entire body will not only help with the prevention of muscle soreness but also decrease your risk of injury.

The old protocol for warming up was stretching and then running. Recent research has shown that an active warm-up, whether it be jogging on a treadmill, or aerobic-like activity such as jump roping is much better than attempting to stretch fully right off the bat.

What Is A Good Example Of A Warm Up Work That You Can Incorporate Into Your Everyday Routine?

When I walk into the gym, I am usually pretty stiff, whether it be from the previous days workout, the cold weather, or the lazy weekend. There is no better way than to get on the elliptical or treadmill and take at least 10 minutes to fully warm up, just a nice easy jog. Then, depending on the muscle group I am focusing on, I will do a thorough warm up for that muscle group.

Let's take back for example. If I am entering a back workout, I will first warm up my shoulders, forearms, and biceps. Then, I will find my way to the pulley machine, and do some wide grip pulldowns to isolate the lats, and squeeze every muscle in my back for a good 4 sets of 12-15 reps. By this time my back is warm, and my muscles are pumping.

I feel that warming up like this can help prevent soreness by forcing blood and nutrients into the muscle right away. Gases such as nitric oxide help transport blood and nutrients into the muscle as well, and really squeezing the muscle will help increase these vital elements to not only ensure safety, but prevent horrid soreness.

How Can You Treat Soreness That You Already Have?

When you wake up in the morning, and you can barely get out of bed, you definitely want a quick fix and try to find a way to make the pain subside. I will make a few simple suggestions that you can try out, and see how they work for you.


Increase Carbohydrate Intake

This is one thing that many people do not realize can help a lot. The idea of carbohydrates are to store more water into muscle tissue. Water being the number one hydration factor that your body can utilize, will also help remove toxins, forcing more nutrients into the muscle, also helping with faster recovery and growth.


Increase Protein Intake

This one may be very obvious to some, but in many cases people are still not getting enough protein. Taking in ample protein within 24 hours after a workout will dramatically affect muscle growth and recovery.

Protein synthesis is at its highest immediately following a workout, but even 24 hours later your body will still uptake more protein than it normally would due to the previous catabolic state your body was in, starving for protein.


Use A Stream Room

You can also take a warm shower, or bath post-workout as well. Here again, there is much circulation of how a steam room will help flush out the lactic acid and such by increasing blood flow and "sweating" it out. This is true to an extent, actually. By getting in the steam room, your body will definitely increase blood flow, thus forcing fresh blood, and new nutrients into muscle tissue.



Even though the soreness has already set in, stretching can still help a lot with the soreness. I feel that it's being lazy and just sitting around that makes the soreness a lot worse.

If I am really sore the day after a hard workout, I will intentionally stretch the muscle, long static holds, to attempt to gently loosen them up. I find that this does give me some relief, and nevertheless is good for muscular performance.


Increase Water Intake

This goes along with increasing protein and carbohydrate intake. Water is vital for recovery and growth of muscle tissue. Generally speaking, water makes up between 65 and 75 percent of muscle weight. Also, your body can not store water for an indefinite amount of time, it will eventually be excreted and needs to be replaced on a daily basis.

Proper hydration will make a huge difference in your soreness. Again, by constantly replenishing your water, this will help with the removal of toxins that build up from working out, and help with sufficient recovery from hard training.

These are all of the non supplemental routes you can take to help make the soreness subside. Let's take a look at some supplement protocols you can use to experience drastic improvements in soreness.

Is There Anything You Can Do To Make It Less Likely That You Will Get As Sore?

While there may be a lot of skepticism behind some supplements out there, there are a few supplements out there that I am going to suggest for before your workout, during your workout, and after your workout. Of course not all of these need to be used, but just as ideas, and I will also give you the research behind each one, and it's primary function.

Pre-Workout Supplementation

Though it is never good to rely upon supplements to get you through a workout, there are some simple supplements that are entirely safe, and effective for reducing soreness.

Citrulline Malate

As far as soreness is concerned, and preventing lactic acid from building up during the workout, my favorite supplement is Citrulline Malate. Citrulline Malate has been getting a lot of attention lately for those who are avid cardiovascular trainers, because it basically allows your muscles to uptake more oxygen, thus reducing lactic acid and ammonia formation.

I have found that doses as small as 3 grams before working out helps dramatically with eliminating that intense "burning" sensation when doing higher rep ranges. Along with helping with the burn, you will also find that citrulline malate will give you a better, longer lasting pump, since it converts into nitric oxide in the bloodstream.


Whether you are interested in using monohydrate or ethyl ester, which are the two most popular forms of creatine today, you will be satisfied. Although there is a small population out there who do claim that they notice no results from using creatine, I feel that it is beneficial for anyone to try.

The basic function of creatine is to store water in muscle tissue, and causing rapid reproduction of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) which is essentially your muscle's energy system.

By supplementing creatine, you will find that your muscular endurance will increase, soreness will decrease (due to increased recovery) and strength gains will be seen as well. Creatine increases strength by way of decreasing recovery time your body can be trained harder, longer, with less rest time between sets.

A quick note on the difference between ethyl ester and monohydrate, and the dosing of both. The idea behind ethyl ester is due to the attached ester to the creatine molecule it can penetrate the cell wall of muscle tissue quicker and more efficiently and work in lower dosages.

Another long known fact about monohydrate is that it has the tendency to bloat some people up a bit. Though I have never experienced this with monohydrate, many like using ethyl ester because they see the same results without as much water retention.

A typical dosage of creatine ethyl ester is three grams, while typically monohydrate users use between 5-10 grams, oftentimes, using 5 grams pre workout, and 5 grams post-workout.

Creatine Calculator


Nitric Oxide Booster

Nitric Oxide is a free form gas that is produced in your body during exercise. Basically, it is how your muscles signal that they need more oxygen to perform adequately.

Primarily derived from the amino acid arginine, nitric oxide is what many bodybuilders often refer to when they describe the "pump" they experience in their muscles. Muscles feel fuller, harder, and oftentimes increased vascularity (appearance of veins) accompanies this euphoric state that bodybuilders love.

There is much talk about nitric oxide being a "useless" supplement. The reason I believe in it so much is that I believe it makes sense that if you can increase blood flow to muscle tissue, and force more nutrients into the muscle tissue, this does nothing but good for hypertrophy.

Along with increasing nutrient transportation, the pump you experience will increase your training capacity due to the fact that you will be more ambitious in the gym to get this feeling.

The reason I also list nitric oxide in with reducing soreness is because if you have ability to flush new blood into muscle tissue almost constantly, you will be removing toxins such as lactic acid and ammonia, which of course we know does nothing but hinder your ability to train during a workout.

During Workout

Many people overlook the possibility and importance of a during workout drink. During your workout, concerning yourself with how much you can preserve and stimulate can improve your workout performance and muscular growth.

Branched Chain Amino Acids

Comprised of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. These three essential amino acids are essential because your body can not manufacture them on its own. Though you can obtain BCAA's from your diet, they are generally not found in highly concentrated forms, and like arginine, are better when consumed alone. So you ask, what makes branched chain amino acids so great during the workout, and why are they so good for soreness?

Branched chain amino acids, leucine most predominantly has been found to have highly anabolic properties. Drinking a leucine cocktail can help stimulate protein synthesis greatly, while preventing muscle tissue from being used as energy, and telling your body to convert fat into energy instead.

Leucine has grown extremely popular in the bodybuilding community, especially for pre-contest athletes for the preservation of muscle tissue, when their diets are low in carbohydrates, which are protein sparing, but in the absence of, leaves muscle tissue at risk.

Overall, if you are looking to prevent your body from going highly catabolic (muscle breakdown) and feeling this breakdown the day after, BCAA's are an excellent way to prevent this, or at least assist with. Your BCAA's can also be consumed pre, during, and post-workout, generally shooting for at least 10 grams of total BCAA's. BCAA's can be found in both capsules and powder.


A Simple Sugar

As bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, those of us who are anal about our diets do not put sugar in our diets, due to the fact that sugar spikes insulin, and enhances fat storage. That is, if it was in the middle of the afternoon as we're having lunch. Immediately post-workout your body is starving for simple sugars, the best form coming from fruit, dextrose, or a newly popularized carbohydrate called waxy maize starch, also known as amylopectin.

Why are these so important and how do they relate to soreness prevention? When you exercise, your body converts liver glycogen into Adenosine Triphosphate, which we know is our muscle's form of energy as we discussed earlier. Well, when we are done exercising our glycogen stores are depleted, or nearly depleted, and need to be replenished as soon as possible.

Along with restoring glycogen, creating a spike in insulin (secreted from the liver when simple carbohydrates are consumed), you are releasing a highly anabolic hormone (insulin) that allows for great storage of nutrients.

As the insulin is spiked and a protein shake (which we will discuss next) is consumed, more of that protein will be absorbed due to the "flood gates" if you will being opened and allowing the nutrients to rush into the tissues. By replenishing these stores, you will be speeding recovery, thus reducing soreness!

Protein Shake

A post-workout protein shake is also a must for quick restoration of tissues and growth. The most common protein cocktail that people use today are whey protein varieties. Personally, I like to use a mixture of whey and casein together for both fast and slow absorbing protein, and creating a greater anabolic environment.

Immediately following exercise, as we touched on earlier, protein synthesis is at an all time high. Your body is literally starving for amino acids.

The reason that a protein shake is great to be used for recovery is because the absorption is much faster than that of food. Whey protein isolate is fully digested roughly 45 minutes after consumption, and casein can last up to six hours in the stomach. Getting these amino acids absorbed rapidly equals rapid growth, recovery, and reduced soreness!


There are a few different arguments that one can make when it comes to antioxidants. Some will say they are fantastic, and will improve the rate at which your body gets rid of free radicals, which are produced from heavy exercise.

Some may say they are anti-inflammatory, which may hinder muscle growth since muscle stimulation is from slight inflammation.

In my opinion, antioxidants are very important to a serious weight trainer. Ever since I began using an antioxidant complex, especially including vitamins C and E, my recovery time has improved greatly, and I also have avoided getting sick for over a year.

Honestly, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are all overlooked by bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. We want what will make us bigger, stronger, and the fastest. Remember that keeping your body in optimal condition means putting good things into it to keep your performance optimal!

Additional Elements Of Training To Keep In Mind


This is one that we all know is important, but many of us still do not get the required sleep that we need. Personally I operate best with between six and seven hours of sleep. Though eight hours is often touted as being the best, I often feel sluggish the next day if I get too much sleep.


While training is important, you will not make good progress without a diet that is in check. Being sure to get enough calories in, enough protein, carbohydrates, and good fats is vital for rapid growth and recovery!


Water, water, water. Especially when on a high protein diet and using supplements, getting enough water in is very important for staying hydrated. Additional amino acids can actually dehydrate you at a fairly rapid rate. Be sure to get in between a gallon and a gallon and a half of water in every day!

Should You Use Cardio Or Stretching The Next Day To Get The Blood Flowing Or Will That Just Make It Worse?

I feel that the usage of cardio and stretching can be used very well to help with severe soreness. Though it may only be temporary relief, I workout five days a week, Monday through Friday. Obviously by Wednesday, I have a few sore muscle groups at once.

I have found though that by doing a good fifteen minute session of cardio before my workout, not only do I get fully warmed up and ready to workout, but I have much greater mobility of my sore muscles.

If you do workout everyday, doing pre workout cardio is a must, especially using an elliptical I have found to be very helpful. I like to use elliptical machines that actually have a push or pull workout, where you can adjust the tension, and after a back workout the day before, using the pulling workout is a great way to loosen up the back muscles prior to a chest workout, or any other muscle workout.

Remember that soreness is nearly inevitable if you have had an adequate workout. But there are a variety of protocols you can take to help the pain subside, and avoid it from being severe. Getting plenty of food, rest, and water are all key!

third Place Beast2Be

Demanding exercise such as weight training and cardio creates miniature tears and lactic acid buildup in your muscle, causing muscle soreness. Although this soreness lies in muscle matter, you can relieve it by using your head before, during and after your training.

The technical term for muscle soreness is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or "DOMS". This term is defined as the muscle pain and soreness that is felt 12-48 hours following exercise, particularly when starting a new exercise program, or after a remarkable increase in the intensity or length of exercise.

DOMS are a response to an abnormal exertion and is part of an adaptation process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recuperate and build. Soreness is commonly at its worst within the first 48 hours following exercise and diminishes over the duration of a few days. Although it can be tremendously frustrating, there are several things you can do to relieve the pain and recuperate quicker.

How Can You Prevent Soreness?

Although DOMS are extremely common after exercise, there are ways to avoid and shorten the duration of them.


Warm Up Thoroughly Before Activity

A proper warm-up can enhance the blood flow to the working muscle which results in decreased muscle stiffness, less risk of injury and improved performance.

You should always begin your workout by doing a slow version of your upcoming activity. An example would be to walk before jogging or jogging before running.

Before weightlifting, perform an aerobic activity like bicycling or a steady walk on a treadmill for 5 to 10 minutes. Always make sure to warm up at a rate that gets your heart beating at 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. This will lead to an increased body and blood temperature and an enhanced range of motion.


Stretch After Exercising

The best time to perform stretching is after exercise. This is when the muscle is the warmest and when you can use the relaxation. Although stretching is relatively easy, there are some simple rules you must follow.

  1. Stretch slowly! It is very important that you stretch slowly and hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds before releasing. Stretching too fast or jerking can cause injury as the muscle is pushed beyond it's measure.
  2. Avoid overstretching! Stretching to the point of pain or discomfort causes more harm than good. At the peak of your stretch, you should feel slight tension on your muscle.
  3. Do not forget to breathe! The key to stretching is relaxation. Breathe deep and easy and never hold your breath while stretching.

Use The 10 Percent Rule

Increasing the intensity, duration or type of activity too quickly can cause injury and brutal DOMS. A way to prevent this is by setting a limit on increases in weekly training.

This guideline plainly states that you should increase your activity no more than 10 percent each week, which includes the distance, intensity, weight lifted and time of exercise. For example, if you are running 10 miles per week and want to increase your duration, add 1 mile to your regimen weekly. I have found this principle to be extremely effective in reducing my DOMS and chance of injury.

How Can You Treat Soreness That You Already Have?

Being sore can be a very painful feeling. There is nothing worse then waking up after a grueling workout to extreme pain throughout your body. Although it will go away after a couple days, there are ways to speed the healing process.


Avoid Any Vigorous Action That Increases Pain

Working a sore muscle will only delay the healing process. This could mean not running when your legs are sore, or not working chest when your triceps are sore. Try to avoid using the sore muscle group completely, and focus on a different muscle.


Perform Easy Aerobic Exercise To Increase Blood Flow

Increasing the blood flow to a given muscle is known to diminish muscle soreness. This doesn't mean to train the muscle over again but rather perform an easy aerobic exercise.

For example, when my upper body is sore I prefer swimming at a slow pace. It increases the blood flow throughout my entire body and speeds the healing process. When my quads or hamstrings are sore, I prefer using a stationary bike for 10-15 minutes at a slow rate.


Take A Hot And Cold Shower

A hot-and-cold shower cure for muscle soreness takes some bravery but does help speed the healing process. Simply take a hot shower for two minutes, turn the knob to cold, and let it run for 30 seconds. Try and repeat this process at least 5 times. Doing this causes your blood vessels to open and close, which flushes the lactic acid out of your muscles.


Massage Away The Soreness

Massaging a sore muscle can alleviate pain and swelling by a tremendous amount. In fact, Jay Cutler visits his massage therapist weekly to work on each muscle group. I suggest massaging your specific muscle following your workout and before bed, if possible. Pushing unwanted lactic acid out of your muscle is extremely effective when used correctly.


Consume A Carbohydrate And Whey Protein Shake Post-Workout

This is the most important aspect of reducing muscle soreness, in my opinion. whey protein, the highest quality form of protein, maintains and rebuilds muscle cells post-workout. By consuming 20-40g post-workout, your muscles will have the ability to rebuild, therefore reducing DOMS.

A carbohydrate filled drink such as Gatorade, has the ability to turn into glycogen and be used as fuel for your muscles. I like to down a 32oz Gatorade immediately post-workout, followed by 20g of whey protein.

Is There Anything You Can Do To Make It Less Likely That You Will Get As Sore?

As mentioned earlier in my article, start slow with the 10 percent rule. Gradually increase the duration and intensity used during exercise, and use no more than a 10% increase weekly. Also, warm up before exercise and make sure to stretch slowly and properly post-workout. After your workout, there are several supplements that can aid in recovery.

Whey Protein

Consuming 20-40g of whey protein post-workout allows for the rebuilding of muscle cells. Most importantly, it provides the body with the essential building blocks to generate amino acids that are used for building muscle tissue. I have found that by consuming 20g post-workout, my DOMS have decreased a tremendous amount.

Creatine Monohydrate

Without a doubt, creatine monohydrate is one of the most effective and popular supplements in the bodybuilding industry. It has the ability to increase lean muscle mass, improve performance, increase energy, and improve recovery rates. By simply consuming 5g post-workout, your recovery time should increase a significant amount.


After exercising, glutamine levels in the body are reduced by up to 50%. Considering the body relies on glutamine as fuel for the immune system, it should be used to lessen the breakdown of muscle tissue. I suggest consuming 5g post-workout with your whey protein shake, and 5g before bed.


Simply, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. BCAA's have the ability to build and repair muscle tissue, which is a must when trying to recover after a heavy duty workout. Considering the body cannot make these Amino Acids from other compounds, consuming a BCAA product is essential to growth and recovery. To further improve recovery, try using a BCAA product during your workout.

Should You Use Cardio Or Stretching The Next Day To Get The Blood Flowing Or Will That Just Make It Worse?

Like I mentioned earlier, increasing the blood flow to a given muscle is known to diminish muscle soreness. This can be done by using an aerobic activity such as a stationary bike, or simple things like swimming. Low-intensity activity assists blood circulation which helps remove lactic acid from the muscle.

Stretching the day after a workout can be very beneficial as well. Just like aerobic activity, you are helping circulate blood throughout your muscles. Simply follow the stretching rules mentioned above, and you should be on your way to optimum recovery.


We can all agree that DOMS are very frustrating. Being sore for days after a taxing workout is never a good feeling. Although it may take several days to entirely recover, there are quite a few things you can do to recuperate quicker. Just make sure to follow the rules and tips listed above, and your recovery time should increase considerably. And always remember, if your muscle soreness doesn't subside by 7 days, seek advice from your physician.

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Some pain is unavoidable in your quest to get a fit and healthy body, but hopefully not too much!

Most people know what muscle soreness feels like, and most of us definitely don't enjoy it. It doesn't feel good, and it could put a serious damper on the training schedule. The good news is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), from upping your intensity or using new exercises (to name a few), can be limited by a few techniques.

First off, the soreness feeling is not necessarily a "bad thing". It is actually a sign that your body is recovering from and building on the micro-tears the exercise has made on the muscle.

How Can You Prevent Soreness?

As switching up new exercises, or increasing your workout intensity by length or lifting weights causes soreness, change should be done gradually.

If you hit that plateau, or its time to change up the same old routine, don't jump into a new routine full throttle. Start your first workout of that routine at slightly a lower intensity than you were before. This may seem like a drag, maybe not giving you the same "pump," but it can save you from soreness that can affect your next workout.

When in the gym, be sure to thoroughly warm up before you start intense lifting, just to get that blood flowing. After your lifts for each exercise, or at the end of your workout, stretch the muscle groups out a tad. Try not to stretch for the purpose of flexibility, just light enough to loosen up a bit.

As a rule of lifting in general, never train if you haven't eaten - putting your body in a fasting environment. That said, having amino acids (particularly branched chain amino acids) in the body can prevent DOMS from starting up.

Supplementing with amino acids half an hour before and after your workout can help reduce the soreness. 1 If you supplement with a quick release protein powder after workouts or a workout matrix with amino acids supplied, these can also work to attenuate DOMS.

Taking a supplement with an amino acid profile containing glutamine can especially help. Glutamine may support the immune system, fighting muscle breakdown such as the tears that cause DOMS.

How Can You Treat Soreness That You Already Have?

To reduce the inflammation involved in DOMS, an anti-inflammatory drug can be taken. If the pain or soreness is too much to handle, taking ibuprofen can reduce the sensation. Anti-inflammatory drugs won't help your muscle repair any faster or more efficiently, so use should be restricted to times when the soreness is too great, or starts to affect your daily life.

To actually help the muscle to repair, be sure to keep the dietary or supplementary protein up to ensure your muscles are getting the amino acids they need to repair and build.

Supplementing with an amino acid product that includes BCAAs with a larger amount of leucine, such as a 2:1:1 product, can really help make sure the amino acids in their needed form are right there when the muscle needs them. Proteins require breakdown to amino acids first, so in addition to a regular protein source, amino acids can speed up recovery even faster.

To help the oxidative stress your sore muscles are put under, be sure to keep the blood flowing. On non-training days, walk around a bit or get into some sports or light exercise without lifting.

Is There Anything You Can Do To Make It Less Likely That You Will Get As Sore?

To summarize the above, the best preventative technique is to supplement with amino acids. Having these building blocks available will ensure the torn muscle will put them to use, to hasten repair, and limit muscle breakdown overall. Particularly necessary amino acids are BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine) and glutamine. Together these can limit muscle breakdown and the soreness due to tears in the muscle.

A good warm-up before your workout will help blood flow, also bringing nutrients including amino acids, to the sites of the micro-tears on the muscle. Light stretching is particularly useful when done after your lifts, rather than before.

Gradually working into a new workout regimen will help reduce the onslaught on soreness before it happens. Also, if you are increasing intensity or duration of exercises, also increase these gradually rather than dive into the deep end "dry."

If the soreness has become too painful, an anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen can help reduce symptoms, but can't restore muscle function. 2 Another method to attenuating soreness is to get blood flowing, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the areas that have gone under oxidative stress.

Should You Use Cardio Or Stretching The Next Day To Get The Blood Flowing Or Will That Just Make It Worse?

As mentioned above, light exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming or sports can help blood flow to help battle the oxidative stress related to DOMS.

Stretching can also help on non-training days to loosen up tight or sore muscle groups. Remember to keep the stretching light and not over-strain the muscle by stretching either. Going too hard on the next day, with high-resistance sports or high-intensity training like HIIT for example, can actually make DOMS worse, so be sure to go easy on your muscles.

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Some pain is unavoidable in your quest to get a fit and healthy body, but hopefully not too much!

How Can You Prevent Soreness?

I'm a firm believer that in order to reach your potential in the world of building the best body that is possible, soreness is almost impossible to avoid. We all know and expect that when we come home from a hard day's workout, that the next morning is going to be a very sore one.

Now it may seem very odd, but some of us actually enjoy the feeling of soreness, as it is a reminder of how hard you worked the previous day. But there comes a point when soreness is no longer desirable; when it hinders your ability to continue working out or even affects your everyday life.

First, let's discuss what exactly soreness is. Now, soreness is basically a combination of lactic acid buildup and the swelling that your body produces in order to begin to repair the tiny muscle fiber tears caused by intense resistance training 1.

There are generally two phases of soreness, the first being caused immediately after the workout all the way until the day after the workout. This is essentially caused by the previously stated lactic acid buildup in the muscles.

Lactic acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of carbohydrates in the muscles when there isn't enough oxygen to fully break down the muscle's glycogen. Physically, this is that pain that you feel during your last few reps of an exercise. This buildup can partly remain in the muscles for hours after the workout, even after the muscle is fully re-oxygenated.

The second phase of muscle soreness is due to the actual micro-trauma that occurs due to the intense weighted muscle contraction that occurs during a nice weight session at the gym. In this case, the muscle fibers are actually torn and need physical repairing. The synthesis of new protein is the only way to really repair or fix the muscles and stop the swelling and soreness.

Now, the most obvious way to stop muscle soreness is to not perform weight-bearing exercise such as weight training, but for addicts like us that is simply not possible.

There are a few preventative measures that can be taken to avoid the worst of the muscle soreness from a workout.

To begin, you should be taking in a scoop or two of whey protein about a half hour before each workout in order to begin the muscle recovery process even as you're doing the workout. Since the amino acids that make up whey protein are also the building blocks to create muscle in the human body, this is clearly essential.

Now, secondly and possibly more importantly, you need to warm up before you work out. This should include some light sets and even up to ten minutes of cardio to simply get the blood flowing through the muscles.

This will help get the heart pumping so that you are able to more efficiently get oxygen to your working muscles as you lift. This will help prevent too much buildup of lactic acid in addition to lowering the possibilities of injury.

This warm-up should also include dynamic stretches such as jumping jacks or jumping rope, and not static stretches. Static stretches can actually begin the tearing of a muscle just enough that the stress of a workout can actually complete a tear and cause an actual muscle tear.

Static stretches should be saved until after the workout or immediately before bedtime. One final way to prevent muscle soreness, and it should only be used as a last resort is to take some ibuprofen before your workout.

Ibuprofen, which is sometimes called Advil, is an over-the-counter muscle anti-inflammatory medicine. Some experts suggest that it may hinder muscle gains in weight lifters, but that is not clearly proven.

One thing is for sure, it can be taken before a workout to prevent the worst of the muscle soreness. One final thing you can do to help prevent muscle soreness is to perform static stretches right after your workout (while drinking your PWO shake) while the muscles are still warm. This can help release lactic acid out of the muscles in addition lengthening the muscle so that blood can flow more freely through the muscle to help begin the repairing process.

How Can You Treat Soreness That You Already Have?

Now that we've talked about the preventative measures, let's talk about how you can treat soreness that is already being experienced. Sometimes, soreness just isn't avoidable. You wake up in the morning and can't even push yourself off of the bed because of the eight sets of decline bench press that you performed the previous day.

There are a few measures that can be taken to deal with soreness that is currently in progress. These are very similar to the preventative measures, but let's reiterate them here also.

Take A Protein Supplement

Protein, of course is the foundation of building new muscle. For a hardcore lifter like most of us reading this, you almost can not consume adequate amounts of protein without supplementing. Unless you're essentially an employee of Tyson's Chicken Company, you should be taking a protein supplement.


Making sure to warm up prior to beginning the stretching process, stretching can help speed up the muscle recovery process by virtue of increasing the flow of blood to the muscle.

If Necessary, Take An Anti-Inflammatory

If in actual pain, take an anti-inflammatory (NSAID). If the pain persists longer than a day, seek medical attention.

Other supplements

The supplement companies have been doing vast amounts of research in this specific area of muscle recovery. There are a few supplements that should be looked into, and I'll list some of them here:

  • Branched Chain Amino Acids: This supplement consists of basically a collection of long amino acids with long substituents which because of their length and stability help reduce the breakdown of muscle after a workout.
  • Glutamine: This amino acid is also a branched chain amino acid but is required by the body in much higher quantities than the other amino acids.
  • HMB: Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate is a semi-new supplement that has become very popular as of late. It is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine, which is one of the amino acids that the body can not produce, meaning it must be ingested. Basically, HMB has been shown to increase protein synthesis in the ribosomes found in the muscles, and also prevent the unnecessary breakdown of previously formed muscle.
  • Post-Workout Powders: These supplements incorporate a combination of some of the supplements shown above such as BCAA's and Glutamine, in addition to a blend of protein and simple carbohydrates. The idea behind this is that the spike in blood sugar that is caused by the simple sugars will cause an insulin spike, which can help in the absorption of the amino acids and put the body into an anabolic state.
Get The Blood Flowing The Day After A Workout

Simple things such as taking a walk the day after a leg workout, or going for a swim the day after a nice back workout can drastically improve the speed at which blood can flow through the muscles, helping speed the recovery of the bulk of the repairing muscle mass.

Is There Anything You Can Do To Make It Less Likely That You Will Get As Sore?

There are a few things that you can do to make it less likely that you will get sore, a few of them being already listed above. But what it really comes down to is two key things:

  1. Getting the blood flowing to the muscles that have been worked.
  2. Allowing adequate nutrients to reach those sore muscles.

In order to get the blood flowing to the muscles, you definitely need to stretch in addition to getting moving. It might seem like getting those sore muscles moving would be the last thing you want to do, but it actually will increase the amount of blood that is flowing through the tissue, raising the rate at which you can recover. And that leads us to the other key thing, getting adequate supplementation to provide essential nutrition.

The blood that flows through your veins actually carries the nutrients such as proteins and carbohydrates to help remove that soreness by way of facilitating the initiation of the muscle recovery process. Definitely supplement with a good amount of protein, BCAA's, glutamine as well as some other essentials if you have the money to spend.

Should You Use Cardio Or Stretching The Next Day To Get The Blood Flowing Or Will That Just Make It Worse?

I would absolutely advise that cardio and stretching be used the day after a tough workout. Blood flow is increased during stretching, helping you recover from your workout more quickly, and light cardio, although not intense enough to further break down muscle tissue would not be advisable.

Here's a little method to get the blood flowing for muscle recovery and stopping the soreness:

  1. Perform some dynamic stretches
  2. Do 10-15 minutes of cardio at a very light intensity
  3. Perform deep static stretches, holding each stretch at a level that is just a little uncomfortable to you.
  4. Consume 20-40 grams of whey protein, or a complex of whey/ egg white/ casein.
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  3. Gleeson, Mike. "Nutritional Supplements For Sport - Glutamine." Muscular Development.
  4. Flakoll, Paul J., et al. "Postexercise protein supplementation improves health and muscle soreness during basic military training in marine recruits." Journal of Applied Physiology 2004, 96:951-956.
  5. Rippetoe, Mark and Lon Kilgore. Starting Strength: A Simple and Practical Guide for Coaching Beginners.Wichita Falls: The Aasgaard Company, 2005.
  8. Nosaka, K., P. Sacco, and K. Mawatari. 2006. Effects of Amino Acid Supplementation on Muscle Soreness and Damage. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 16: 620-635.
  9. Tokmakidis, S. E. A. Kokkinidis, I. Smilios, and H. Douda. 2003. The effects of ibuprofen on delayed muscle soreness and muscular performance after eccentric exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 17: 53-59.