Yikes! Big workout yesterday, now I can barely stand up and move . . .
“Feel the Burn,” what a cool slogan, but today: Ouchie!
This muscle soreness begins in 12 to 48 hours and will go away in a couple of days (or a week at most). Fitness gurus and doctors agree that to build a muscle, you work it hard enough to make microscopic muscle tears which heal up stronger than before. The soreness is from micro damage and inflammation; also from swelling and lactic acid buildup.
No pain, no gain?? I dunno. I think we can make this process more comfortable by going beyond the typical treatments which include:
- warm up your whole body with some cardio before strength training
- stretch after the workout
- eat some protein within two hours of workout, to help repair muscle
- heat, especially a hot bath to increase blood flow /heal the tiny muscle tears
- massage – do yourself or get a friend/masseuse
- ice the muscles to reduce swelling and inflammation (a bag of frozen peas may work well & can be reused – – or take an ice bath as professional athletes do). Try alternating hot and cold, as in a hot/cold shower.
- rest and wait two days or more before your next workout
Of course these traditional treatments certainly help, but there are more smart and easy things we can add:
Muscle is about 70% water, so hydration is vital for muscle health and healing. The best hydration comes from Celtic Sea Salt water, a.k.a. Watercure. This fully hydrates the cells, plumps them up so they function well. Less soreness!
Supplements: Vitamin C, E, and Magnesium play unique roles in our muscular system, as explored below.
Before the workout and ongoing:
+ Hydration –Watercure – drink LOTS of water before and all day
+ Magnesium 200 mg to 400 mg, take twice a day or more (details below)
+ Vitamin C (antioxidant; removes lactic acid /metabolic wastes; increases collagen to repair micro tears)
+ Vitamin E (antioxidant, removes free radicals, promotes healing)
+ Fish oil is anti-inflammatory (and also thins the blood, be aware)
After the workout:
* Keep drinking plenty of Celtic Salt water, or water of your choice
* Vitamin C, 1000 mg every hour, to bowel tolerance (ie, stop if/when loose stools)
* Epsom salt bath, as hot as you can stand without burning yourself (1-2 cups epsom salts, soak your body in the bath 30 minutes)
* apply topically: Magnesium gel, Arnica, Traumeel, or the common choices of Icy Hot, BenGay, etc. (Arnica and Traumeel also available as oral tablets for general pain.)
Our muscles need a good balance of calcium and magnesium. However most of us are living with too much calcium (which contracts muscle) and not enough magnesium (which relaxes muscle and also reduces lactic acid). This common situation tends to cause more muscle pain and cramps.
Magnesium also plays a vital role in producing energy (ATP) for the muscles. Studies have shown magnesium enhances our strength and endurance and with less pain afterward.
Exercise and stress depletes magnesium. So let’s replenish it!
Magnesium deficiency also can lead to sudden cardiac death in athletes.
In The Magnesium Miracle, Carolyn Dean MD ND writes that our modern diet gives us a 10:1 ratio of far too much Calcium to Magnesium. This imbalance creates a variety of chronic health issues, from inappropriate calcifications to angina, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, fatigue, and more.
Although we’ve been told to go for a 2:1 ratio (taking twice as much Calcium as Magnesium), current thought recommends a 1:1 ratio, because our bodies are simply so deficient in Magnesium. (Dean suggests we don’t even need Calcium supplements, as our diet is already too heavy in Calcium.)
Magnesium is found in leafy greens, nuts and seeds, as well as other foods. But for those of us who engage in steady exercise and strength training, it is smart to add not only magnesium rich foods but supplements such as magnesium citrate and magnesium chloride gel used topically on the skin.
Dr. Dean and magnesium specialist Dr. Seelig suggest exercisers and athletes should take:
600 to 1000 mg magnesium per day for a 220 pound man
400 to 680 mg magnesium per day for a 150 pound woman
Take oral magnesium tablets to bowel tolerance (loose stools), and trim back the dose to your comfort level. Magnesium gel often absorbs better than oral magnesium, and will not affect the bowels. (The body simply excretes any excess of magnesium, so it is not a problem – unless you have pre-existing kidney failure or the conditions listed below.)
If you have any of the following conditions, you should not take extra magnesium:
Extremely slow heart rate (perhaps slower than 60-55, but ask your doctor)
I’m here to tell you: Watercure, Vitamin C and Magnesium have helped my body feel worlds better in recent months of strength training.
As ever, take the suggestions that fit you, and leave the rest.
Good luck with your workouts!
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