When we work out strenuously, our muscles compensate for lack of oxygen by producing lactate, a.k.a. lactic acid, which allows the muscles to utilize glucose for energy.
Once lactic acid is produced, it can remain in the muscles, causing pain and soreness that usually peaks between 24-72 hours after the vigorous workout. Unfortunately, anyone who has started working out again after a lapse in activity knows this feeling all too well.
But there are ways to clear lactic acid from the muscles faster, and below are 6 top recommended tips:
1. Wonderful Water
Water is first on the list because it’s every athlete’s number one workout assistant. Not only will staying hydrated help anyone have a more energetic and productive workout, it will help all of the systems in the body designed to remove toxins work efficiently.
If you work out more than 60 minutes, consider adding electrolytes to your hydration regimen, because you’ll need to replace the sodium and potassium you’re losing as well.
Be sure to drink extra water the day after a rough workout to clear lactic acid from the system faster, and to help your body heal.
2. Top Temperature
If you have the opportunity to warm up before you start exercising, this will help the muscles clear waste better during exertion.
Many people get on the treadmill, elliptical machine or stationary bike to heat up their body before moving onto more forceful or weight-bearing exercises.
In addition to preventing lactic acid build up, this can also reduce the chance of injury by preparing the muscles for pressure.
3. Nurturing Nutrition
You made those muscles work hard and had a great training session, now pay them back for their performance with some healthy foods and nutrition.
You’ve got to give a powerful engine the fuel it needs to run strong, so eat vitamin-dense foods, amino acids and protein after you exercise, and go heavy on the Omega-3s, as this fatty acid has been found to help reduce inflammation.
4. Crucial Cooling
Prevention is one of the best ways to avoid the next-day post-workout pain, and cooling down gently after a workout has been shown to help remove lactic acid from the muscles, allowing the exerciser to avoid this problem.
Cooling down can mean a casual stroll on the treadmill immediately after strength training, riding the stationary bike, or a mellow swimming session if your gym has a pool. Remember to take it slow, and allow your heart to gradually reach a resting rate.
5. Super Stretches
After the post-workout cooling down exercise, it’s also a good idea to stretch to increase blood flow.
Stretching will help your body heal faster by increasing circulation, averting the pooling of blood and lactic acid in the muscles, and prevent the stiffening that can contribute to pain in the days to follow.
Stretching before a workout is also recommended to keep the body limber and prevent injuries caused by suddenly moving tight, cold muscles, and to prevent muscle waste build up.
6. Shocking Showers
Although alternating between hot and cold showers seems like a system-shocking situation, many proponents of this approach swear it reduces the levels of lactic acid and prevents day-after muscle soreness.
To take a contrast shower, switch back and forth between cold for as long you can handle and then hot a few times.
Some fitness fans also swear by post-workout ice baths and massages, and some use the tips discussed above to avoid muscle pain and weakness. If lactic acid buildup is causing you discomfort, you might want to give these removal methods a try. You’ve got nothing to lose but muscle pain, and a faster recovery to potentially gain.
Ashley Porter is a professional blogger that shares fitness and nutrition tips. She writes for Fitness 19, an affordable fitness center with locations nationwide.