What to Do When You’ve Pushed It Too Far at the Gym
So you want a little too hard in spin class? Here's how to recover.
You’ve been too busy with obligations to get to the gym. You try to makeup for that with one massive Saturday session that includes a challenging spin class and an intense interaction with the stair-climber. The next day, you’re paying for it. “As your muscles repair themselves, inflammation occurs and impinges on the nerves surrounding the muscles, causing pain,” says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., the chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. Although slight soreness is typically a sign that your muscles have been stressed and will get stronger with adequate recovery time, it doesn’t make walking any easier.
You might be craving a hot bath, but those achy spots will respond better to an ice pack, which can ease inflammation and interrupt pain signals, says Fabio Comana, M.S., a faculty member in the department of exercise and nutritional sciences at San Diego State University.
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A 2016 study published in the journal Nutrients saw benefits for semiprofessional male soccer players who consumed 30 milliliters (about an ounce) of tart Montmorency cherry juice, which is high in anti-inflammatory compounds, twice a day for eight days. These players had significantly less inflammation and muscle dam- age following an intense session of prolonged, repeated sprints than did those who consumed a placebo. The athletes drank the juice (which is sold in supermarkets) morning and night, but experts say that a shot after exercise will do the trick.
Classic hair-of-the-dog advice: Go for a walk or an easy bike ride; do any activity that gently engages the sore muscles the following day to stimulate blood flow to the area and help the healing process. Says Comana, “This helps clean up the cellular debris from the muscle tears.”
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