We have all felt the stiffness and pain that develops after a strenuous training session. Maybe you pushed yourself too hard or done some exercises that you were not used to doing. Whatever the cause was, muscle soreness can be quite uncomfortable and even affect the quality of your training so it can be worth looking into strategies to prevent muscle soreness, especially when you need to recover quickly.
There are many things you can do to help you recover faster. Start by including the following as part of your recovery routine:
- Make recovery a priority
Proper recovery is one of the first things you need to focus on if you want to prevent muscle soreness. This mainly involves consuming adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates, so that you can repair the damaged muscles and replace the glycogen that was used during training.
Make sure you include some protein in your recovery snack or meal and then again later, depending on the type of training session you had.
The amount of carbohydrates you require for recovery also depends on the training session. Some sessions are not as dependent on glycogen and will require less carbohydrates.
Remember that you can still be recovering from your training 24-48 hours after the session, so it is important to not only focus on the few hours after your training. You can spread your protein and carbohydrate intake out during the day as well, especially if you require a high intake.
- Choose your supplements wisely
There are also some supplements that have been shown to reduce muscle soreness.
Caffeine has been shown to decrease muscle soreness and it can be helpful to supplement with caffeine after a training session. If you love coffee you probably won’t have a problem with this but if you don’t like it, try having a supplement that contains caffeine. Just remember that caffeine might affect the quality of your sleep, which in turn can hinder your recovery so try not to consume caffeine too late in the day. Rather focus on having it after your morning training sessions.
Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements available. Studies have shown that creatine has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Although the results of the studies are mixed, creatine has shown to reduce muscle damage and muscle soreness after exercise, if an adequate loading dose is consumed. Therefore, those using creatine not only have the benefit of increased strength and muscle mass but also improved recovery.
A few studies have found that taurine, alone or combined with BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), can reduce soreness and improve muscle function after training sessions. These effects can be due to the antioxidant effect of taurine.
Omega 3 fatty acids contain EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), which are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Several studies have shown that supplementing with omega 3 can help to reduce muscle soreness after exercise and most studies used a dosage of 0.54 g – 3 g per day.
Although it is sometimes preferable to prevent muscle soreness after some extreme training sessions, inflammation can be helpful when you want certain adaptations to develop from your training sessions, so be careful of not over doing it.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to recovery so you can try different strategies to see which one works best for you based on your training and the goals you want to achieve.
 Kim, J. and Lee, J., 2014. A review of nutritional intervention on delayed onset muscle soreness. Part I. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 10(6), pp.349-356.