Fitness

Lose the aches while losing weight

Singapore’s former triathlon and marathon SEA Games gold medallist Mok Ying Ren uses a foam roller to reduce muscle tightness and increase blood circulation.
Singapore’s former triathlon and marathon SEA Games gold medallist Mok Ying Ren uses a foam roller to reduce muscle tightness and increase blood circulation. PHOTO: ONEATHLETE

Exercising will almost certainly lead to muscle soreness. Here are some methods for reducing those aches and pains

Things that work

FOAM ROLLING

Foam rollers have become increasingly popular. At least one small study found that men who were assigned to roll their muscles with a foam roller for 20 minutes after an intense weightlifting session had reduced levels of muscle soreness and improved range of motion.

ACTIVE RECOVERY

If your legs are feeling tight or tender after an intense leg workout, try going for a walk. If your arms and shoulders are sore, try swinging your arms in circles periodically throughout the day to stimulate blood flow to the region.

Do avoid any hard workouts and the temptation to "push through it" when muscles are vulnerable. Your muscle capability is reduced, your muscle power is reduced and your muscles are tender.

NUTRITION

CARBO LOADING

Regular intake of carbohydrate is vital to replace muscle glycogen depleted during exercise.

ALEXANDRA COOK, sports dietitian and ultrarunner, who recommends protein, the main nutrient needed for muscular repair, as well as snacks to support the recovery and muscle adaptation process.

Sports dietitian and ultrarunner Alexandra Cook says: "Most nutritional interventions to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness are closely related to inflammatory response and aiding the rebuilding of damaged muscles."

She recommends a portion of protein, the main nutrient needed for muscular repair, at each meal, as well as snacks to support the recovery and muscle adaptation process.

"Regular intake of carbohydrate is vital to replace muscle glycogen depleted during exercise. If you skimp on the carbohydrate, you run the risk of excessive protein (muscle) breakdown, which won't contribute positively to the training process."

WATER

Because muscles are made up of a high percentage of water, even mild dehydration can make muscle soreness worse.

But, while staying hydrated may reduce symptoms, it will not speed up repair from muscle damage.

Things that may not work

STRETCHING

Don't count on stretching to make much of a difference. A study in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2011 "suggests that muscle stretching, whether conducted before, after, or before and after exercise, does not produce clinically important reductions in delayed onset muscle soreness in healthy adults".

PAINKILLERS

Using over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen to reduce post-exercise muscle soreness provides little relief and may actually lead to additional problems. Some studies suggest that they can inhibit the body's ability to repair muscles.

CRYOTHERAPY

Some athletes like to hop into an ice bath to soothe their muscles after a strenuous game or workout.

Others prefer to step into a full-body cryotherapy chamber. But those who pay for cryotherapy may not get their money's worth.

A report published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2015 concluded that there was "insufficient" evidence to support the use of cryotherapy to relieve achy muscle after exercise.

NYTIMES, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 09, 2019, with the headline 'Lose the aches while losing weight'. Print Edition | Subscribe