Whether it’s from a challenging workout or overtime at the office, when your body feels like you have been hit with a ton of bricks, a solution to soothe those sore and aching muscles is just what the doctor ordered. Here are five of my favourite remedies to get back to being superwoman (or man) – by the next morning.
Bump up your H20. While this may seem like a no brainer, if there is not enough water and electrolytes present in the body, your muscles will not be able to do their job well and you they will become tight, tender and easily injured (if you need a visual as to what a dehydrated muscle looks like, think of beef jerky – yikes!). A cup of water every hour that you are awake may be less daunting than staring at a 3L bottle on your desk. If you are heading to the gym then drink water throughout your water, and immediately afterwards I recommend a large glass of water with a scoop of protein and either a greens powder (this will also help lower post workout cortisol) or a sugar free workout recovery powder. If it was a high intensity cardio session you may want to add ¼ teaspoon of celtic sea salt to replenish lost electrolytes.
Toss in some Taurine. This amino acid plays a major role in the brain as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Similar in structure and function to GABA, taurine provides an anti-anxiety effect that helps calm or stabilize an excited brain. By inhibiting the release of adrenaline, taurine also protects us from anxiety and other adverse effects of stress. In fact, you may have noticed it as an ingredient in some of the energizing, high-caffeine soft drinks, to soften any overstimulation. In the cell, taurine keeps potassium and magnesium inside the cell, while keeping excessive sodium out and is essential for muscle function. However this important neurotransmitter is easily depleted in all skeletal muscles after exercise.
Take 500 to 1,000 mg of taurine a day, without food.
Toss in Some Whey. A recent study evaluated the effect of a whey protein isolate on exercise-induced muscle injury and recovery. In this clinical trial, 17 healthy males performed a resistance exercise session. The participants received either whey protein isolate or a carbohydrate supplement for 14 days after their workout, which amounted to approximately 30 grams consumed immediately and then once with breakfast, lunch, in the afternoon and after the evening meal. Compared to the subjects in the carbohydrate-supplementation group, the subjects supplemented with whey protein isolate had significantly higher muscle strength and improved recovery time, and reduced markers for muscle damage. Another great reason to follow up your workout with a protein drink!
Add in (enough) Magnesium. Magnesium has a powerful, soothing effect on sore muscles, so it’s not surprisingly that a clinical trial published in Rheumatology International found that a daily dose of magnesium can reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia. Researchers discovered that after eight weeks of supplementation with magnesium the number of tender points, tender point index, fibromyalgia impact questionnaire scores and depression scores decreased. The researchers concluded that low magnesium levels in the red blood cells may be a causative factor of fibromyalgia symptoms. Magnesium calms your nervous system, induces relaxation, reduces blood pressure and treats and prevents constipation and muscle cramps. Take 200 to 800 mg of Magnesium Glycinate or Magnesium Citrate at night. Begin at 200 mg and keep increasing the dosage until you reach bowel tolerance (i.e. the point at which you develop loose stools).
Take in Some Tart Cherry Juice. If you’re looking for a healthy way to fight post-exercise soreness, cherries fit the bill. Studies suggest a cup and a half of tart cherries or one cup of tart cherry juice (no sugar added) can significantly reduce muscle inflammation and soreness. Remember to have it immediately post workout (i.e. with your whey protein) when your muscles are primed to absorb excess insulin in the bloodstream. As a bonus it also boosts melatonin levels and can help you sleep. Or you can try one of my favourite muscle-recovery formulas packed with beta-berry antioxidants, my Creatine, BCAA and Antioxidants is perfect for combating muscle soreness and easing muscle recovery while lowering cortisol after your workout.