If you’re overly sore after your workouts and having a hard time recovering, it could be because of many things.
But there are a couple of ways to help reduce or prevent soreness after workouts so you recover quicker and are able to maintain a proper level of intensity in your workouts.
For decades it was acceptable to run or jog a couple minutes on the treadmill, do a few stretches and get into your workout. But as research started to find out, this wasn’t the most effective way to prepare for exercise, and more specifically strength training.
You also need to be doing more than stretching to get the most out of your workouts, and you need to make sure you’re doing these things in the proper order.
I always include flexibility in my workout, but also foam rolling, and mobility work.
Now, these are terms that are used often, but a lot of people use them incorrectly (you tend to see a lot of that in this industry).
Flexibility is the ability to move a joint through it’s full range of motion dependent on the tissue that surrounds a joint (like muscles and tendons), and their length or elasticity.
Flexibility is a passive movement and does not require any strength, while mobility is an active movement that requires strength to move the joint through its full range of motion.
Exercises the improve flexibility are static stretches that help lengthen and loosen the elastic tissues like muscles and tendons, keeping them pliable and resistant to injury. It releases tension in tight and overworked muscles and helps promote proper posture.
Any kind of traditional static stretch works for flexibility.
Mobility is the ability to actively move a joint through its full range of motion with control and is completely dependent on the joint itself, including the nourishment and condition of the synovial fluid that surrounds a joint.
Synovial fluid is the lubricant for your joints. Kind of like the oil in your car engine.
Mobility exercises act like an oil change for your joints. They can decompress your joints so the bones and cartilage don’t rub together. They help nourish the joint and clean up any unwanted deposits that can lodge and cause pain and prevent mobility. It’s mobility that really helps prevent premature aging and allows us to move pain-free, by restoring or maintain complete freedom of movement in your joints.
For mobility, any kind of dynamic warm-up will work here, and I like to do wall slides to help pull my shoulders back into proper posture.
Applying Flexibility and Mobility
Knowing this, you’ll want to perform your mobility exercises prior to training as your warm-up or movement preparation (dynamic movements) to prepare your joints for the activity to come. Then after training use flexibility exercises (static stretches) to help release the tension developed during your workout and help promote recovery (regeneration).
And even before I get into the mobility work, I begin my workouts with foam rolling (I actually use a PVC pipe. It’s cheaper and it lasts longer. Get a 3 foot long, 3 inch diameter pipe from your local home improvement store). It’s kind of like self-massage (no, not that kind …) to help treat tight and sore muscles. All you need to do is put the roller on the ground and roll over it with your sore muscles. Just make sure you are rolling in the direction of the muscle (over the length of the muscle).
Finding time to work on flexibility and mobility (as well as foam rolling) will help prevent injury and soreness, and speed up recovery, all while increasing performance in sport and daily tasks.