We are very quick to jump onto the next FAD or quick-fix solution, which costs us time and money. The products we buy probably won't have the desired outcome that we hope, either due to misleading scientific advertisements or poor adherence to the process.
What if we tell you, you can get all of your best results for free:
You don't need some super supplement to get in your greens - just add another portion of veg a day. Preparation is everything. Try not to replace good nutritious food with a powdered supplement.
You don't need to invest in a dose of melatonin to get you to sleep. You can significantly impact your own production by reducing your screen time and scheduling a bedtime routine. Get a good 7-8 hours of sleep and you'll be surprised at the speed of your recovery rate.
You don't need to avoid carbohydrates; they are not the devil. You can, however, be wise as to when you consume the majority. Think of food as fuel and you'd want to replenish after activity.
Don't go getting yourself mountains of gym kit that you'll never use. Plan on including some bodyweight exercises and break up your day with short intervals of being active. Or get some fresh air on a walk. There are so many health benefits, including Vitamin D absorption, from being outdoors. Not all activity has to be high intensity.
Do the simple stuff for the best results.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT MUSCLE SORENESS?
Gentle massage – this will promote gradual flexibility and increase blood flow, however, deep tissue massage should be avoided during the first 24 hours
Avoid aggressive stretching or exercise during this process – your muscles will have a reduced ability to cope with increased functional demand
Gentle flexibility exercises can ease the symptoms of DOMS
Get plenty of fluids on board and sufficient amounts of protein in your diet to assist muscle repair.
Building up your exercise gradually in weight and volume can help. This even applies to people with some form of exercise exposure. Long breaks away from training means the body will adapt to their current environment, therefore attempting to jump back into where they left off will present them with major challenges in performance and recovery. Be smart about your approach to training. Start small, aim big.
Make sure you’re properly warmed up before exercise; by this, we mean increase the heart rate and prepare the body for the session. An example could be from 2-5 minutes on a rowing machine followed by some bodyweight mobility and fire up the neuromuscular system by movement potentiation.
Perform a mix of exercises, rather than consistently focusing on one area. It might not be a good idea to perform high volume squats and lunges just a day after. In the exercise world, there are numerous ways to create a balanced programme to avoid injury or other effects of overtraining. Splits are one; the most simple example being upper/lower, i.e. shoulders and chest one day and maybe glutes, quads and hamstrings on the next.
Finish your workout by stretching and cooling down. Instantly stopping exercise can cause blood pooling. The waste products in the muscles aren’t able to be flushed sufficiently and that is why inflammation and muscle soreness occurs.
WHAT ARE DOMS? - don't worry, this won't last forever
Sore muscles after physical activity, known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), can occur when you start a new exercise programme, change your exercise routine, or increase the duration or intensity of your regular workout.
DOMS is associated with fatigue and a build-up of lactic acid, along with metabolic waste build-up as a result of the by-product of glycogen usage. DOMS is also thought to be associated with eccentric exercise-related movements (being under tension whilst lengthening). Usually, DOMS will be mild discomfort and only last anywhere from 24hrs to 72hrs.
WHEN TO STRETCH
The topic of stretching is often up for debate. How long should you stretch for? How often? When should you do it? Much like anything to do with the body, these factors are still under investigation. The most recent evidence suggests that stretching alone does not have any lasting effects after 10 minutes. It does have short term effects, allowing the body to move better into its full range of motion. There are also different types of stretching - active, passive, ballistic and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF). Holding static stretches for longer than 60 seconds before a workout can have negative effects on performance outcomes.
Think about it this way, stretching is to help lengthen the muscles and improve flexibility so is it really beneficial in preparing the body to make forceful movements under tension or any kind of contraction speed? Static stretching is more appropriate to include at various points throughout the day; if you’re sitting at a desk for long hours, hamstrings and pectorals will become short and over time, cause muscular imbalances. Regular short intervals (5-10 minutes) of stretching can influence better posture, movement quality and reduce the risk of injuries. Participating in dynamic movements to encourage blood flow and increase the heart rate has far more beneficial components to prepare your body for exercise. The warm up doesn’t need to last any longer than 5 minutes.