It’s exhilarating to finish a tough workout. To feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from a job well done. Unfortunately, if you haven’t been working out long or have recently changed your routine, your muscles may feel the after-effects a few days later in the form of post-exercise muscles soreness. The official name for sore muscles after a workout is DOMS, an abbreviation for delayed-onset muscle soreness. DOMS usually makes its appearance 24 to 72 hours after a training session where you exercise muscles that aren’t properly conditioned. A good case of DOMS can leave sore and aching for a few days, but there’s good news. You may be able to reduce soreness after a workout by changing what you eat. Here are three foods that science shows can help post-exercise muscle soreness.
Drinking two ounces of tart cherry juice a day could offer protection against delayed-onset muscle soreness. When researchers at the London South Bank University in the U.K. gave athletes an ounce of tart cherry juice twice a day seven days before and two days after a challenging workout, their muscles recovered faster from the challenges of heavy exercise.
Tart cherries are a good source of anthocyanins, natural anti-inflammatory pigments that give them their cherry-red color. Tart cherries have some of the same benefits as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications – without the side-effects. Enjoy a glass of this lip-puckering juice before and after your workout, or take a tart cherry extract to get the anti-inflammatory benefits directly from nature – not a prescription bottle.
Have a serving of salmon after your daily workout, and you may have less post-workout soreness. Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that have natural anti-inflammatory properties. According to a study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, taking omega-3 fatty acids reduced markers for inflammation after a strenuous exercise session. And don’t forget their other health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for heart health and blood pressure too. Don’t like the taste of salmon? Take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement instead, but talk to your doctor first. People who are on blood thinners or who have a bleeding disorder shouldn’t take omega3s.
Think chocolate milk is just for kids? Turns out it’s for serious athletes too. One study showed that soccer players who drank low-fat chocolate milk after a strenuous workout experienced more rapid muscle recovery than those who drank a commercial sports drink. Even though the players didn’t report differences in muscle soreness, they had lower levels of a marker for muscle damage.
The best way to enjoy a glass of chocolate milk after a workout is with a scoop of whey protein. Whey protein not only helps to build muscle, it too reduces markers for muscle damage. Try whipping up a post-workout chocolate shake with yogurt and whey protein for a muscle-soothing drink.
The Bottom Line?
Nature has her own ways to relieving muscle soreness. Reduce muscle soreness after a workout naturally by changing what you eat.
Clinical Journal Sport medicine. 21: 131-137, 2011.
Eurekalert.org. “New Research Suggests Tart Cherries Could Speed Muscle Recovery”
American College of Sports Medicine. “Effects of Chocolate Milk Consumption on Markers of Muscle Recovery During Intensified Soccer Training”. 2009.