Olympics 2012: How to … Relieve Sore Muscles
Wed, 8 August 2012 10:40AM
While we might not all be Olympic athletes, I’m sure there have been times over the years where you have suffered an injury or two after exercise, or left a pump class feeling tired, sore and drained. And craving chocolate. But that’s a whole other story.
As I mentioned last week, I’ve been dancing for over 22 years. Wow, even writing that makes me feel old. I’ve had my fair share of injuries, from torn hamstrings to tendonitis and even a dislocated knee. As you can imagine my body is a little worse for wear these days at the ripe old age of 25 (just imagine what it will be like when I’m 70) and more often than not, nowadays I finish my classes and gym sessions with tight and aching muscles.
Miranda Kerr would probably know a thing or two about aching muscles after repeating this pose:
Over the years I’ve tried everything from physiotherapy, acupuncture and remedial massage, always turning to Cheryl Kay, an Australian Physiotherapy Association Sports Physiotherapist, to “fix” me up before competition time. Even though I’m currently injury-free (touch wood), I caught up with Cheryl earlier this week to talk about relieving sore muscles, along with a few of my favourite beauty buys that help me feel healed.
- Despite what you might think, Cheryl advises against stretching – especially any bouncing movements – before exercising. “You want to get some movement in your muscles happening first to promote blood flow, then once they are warm, you can partake in some light stretching.”
- Post-workout, do some gentle warm down stretches, go for a walk or do an extra five minutes on the exercise bike, so that your breathing and heart rate return to normal and your muscles cool down. “Stretch whichever part of your body that you have been using, so if you have been running, do gentle leg exercises, or stretch your shoulders if you have been swimming, and so on.”
- “Keep up your water intake, both before and after exercise,” Cheryl says. Not only does rehydrating after exercise help to replenish your water supply, it has also been said that it assists in repairing sore muscles.
- If you needed any further encouragement to partake in a relaxing massage, then this is it. Not only does it help “relieve any muscle tension and/or pain,” Cheryl says, it’s also a way to have a little extra pampering if you ask for a gentle remedial massage. On a beauty front, massages that include lymphatic drainage help to rid your body from toxins.
- When it comes to having a hot or cold shower after exercise, there are so many differing opinions, so I asked Cheryl to set the story straight. “Professional athletes will have an ice plunge pool that they go into after exercise, however for those at home, have a warm shower for 1-2 minutes, then turn it to cold water for 10-30 seconds, repeating the process three times. When you go into cold water, the blood vessels shut down but once you are back in the warm water, they are flushed with new blood, both assisting in repairing any damage and promoting circulation.”
- Cheryl recommends steering clear from heat rubs, especially if you feel like you might have caused damage. If you feel that your pain could be veering more into injury territory, make an appointment to see your doctor or physiotherapist.
And for a few of my at-home beauty remedies that always make me feel a little better …
Lush Hottie Solid Massage Bar, $9.95, LUSH
I massage this into my skin while I’m in the shower post-workout. It’s moulded with wide bumps to get right into the pressure points and promote circulation, while black pepper and a sweet-smelling ginger oils are designed to release any muscle tension. Eventually the bumps do wear down, but since it’s also infused with shea and cocoa butter, it works equally as well as a moisturising body wash.
Radox Muscle Soak Foaming Bath Liquid, $5.99, from supermarkets
While I try and keep up the hot-shower-cold-shower routine straight after exercise, the night after I always try and have a hot bath. I’ve been using this bath soak enriched with essential oils for years, so it’s just as much as a comfort method as it is an aid to relax my sore muscles.
What about you, Primpettes? Do you have any healing sore muscles remedies you swear by?
Do you ever go to the physiotherapist or acupuncturist for any treatments?
What about massages – are you a fan, or not so much?