What Happens to Our Muscles During Physical Exercise?
When you’re active, you are actually damaging muscle fibers and breaking down the muscle. If you don’t recover properly, this can result in feeling sore, immobile or relatively weak for the next few days. This muscle soreness we experience is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and is a minor muscle strain. This soreness can adversely affect performance and the symptoms, such as, “dull pain and muscle stiffness,” can last for up to 5 or 7 days.
It is not abnormal to feel sore, especially when you push yourself outside of your normal intensity range, but you don’t need to experience soreness in order to build muscle or make progress. That being said, we shouldn’t rely on how sore we feel as a metric of productivity of our workouts.
Believing that post-workout soreness is proof you worked as hard as you should is like thinking how much you sweat measures your workout intensity. Neither of these assumptions is necessarily correct.
Unfortunately, many still associate this next-day soreness with progress or gains and neglect their recovery.
Benefits Of Post-Workout Recovery
Adding a recovery aspect to your workout routine is important because this is when your body will adapt to the stress of physical exercise. You can’t push your body to your maximum without giving it time to heal in between. The damage to your body that is caused by exercise triggers the immune system to repair that damage.
Recovery allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged muscle tissue. Without recovery, the body will continue to break down and you may see symptoms of overtraining. When our bodies are able to recover properly, they will become fitter and you will see progress in your next workout.
Back To The Baseline
One way to think of recovery is by making sure that every day you wake up feeling the same. This may seem like an odd concept, why would you want to feel the same when you’re putting in a ton of effort to get fit?
Eating better and exercising more frequently will, over time, increase your energy levels and make you feel better. In the short term, it is going to come with physical fatigue and muscle soreness. If you can make an effort to reduce muscle soreness and wake up feeling just as fresh as the day before, then you prepared yourself to tackle your workouts with just as much intensity. When you wake up feeling like you can’t move your legs, that is when you give yourself an excuse to stay in bed or take that unplanned rest day.
Our new definition of recovery is returning to a baseline so we can push harder the next day. Over time, your baseline will continue to rise with your progress which allows your fitness level to elevate. You may feel the same, but that baseline is higher than where it was previously.
Getting back to your baseline involves several factors. There are things you have control over to aid in your recovery process.
There are physical activities you can implement to your workout regime to not only help your recovery but increase flexibility, prevent injury, and reduce muscle soreness.
Warm-up: The best thing you can do for your muscles is warm them up before activity. By warming up your muscles before you exercise, you are preparing them for higher intensity activity.
Stretching: Stretching actually helps reset your body to a natural position and posture. Stiffness and soreness may result if you neglect areas of your body that are overly tight.
Foam Rolling: Taking 10 to 20 minutes to foam roll after doing high-intensity exercise can help prevent any power loss in your muscles and reduce muscle soreness.
Hydration: Protein synthesis requires the muscles to be well hydrated. If you are dehydrated after your workout, the protein synthesis that would rebuild muscle will be slowed and your recovery will be delayed.
Amino Acid Supplements: The amino acid blend of BCAAs, L-Glutamine, and L-Arginine found in Rapid Recovery are clinically proven to reduce muscle soreness and speed recovery. Amino acids are absorbed 3x quicker than a protein supplement, which means your body can put them to use sooner and start rebuilding the muscles.
Complex Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are key to muscle recovery because they help restore the glycogen stores that have been depleted due to exercise. Rapid Recovery product contains the complex carbohydrate, Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin to aid in the muscle recovery process.