Feelin’ the Burn?
It’s totally common to feel a bit worse for the wear the morning after your first Broga class. Introducing any new exercise to your fitness routine, or lack there of, stresses and strains your muscles in new ways, causing actual cell damage that takes time to heal. It’s this damage, and the inflammatory-repair response that it triggers, that cause stiffness and soreness for typically 24 to 72 hours after a workout. It’s so common it even has a name: Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness – or DOMS. So you’re sore, and now you know why…what do you do about it?
Don’t be discouraged! In fact, get off the couch, stretch out, and go for a walk, or better yet, take another Broga class ASAP! I know this seems counter-intuitive, but it really works! One of the fastest ways to silence achy muscles is to stretch them out, and get them moving again. You may feel like you lack some range of motion due to muscle tightness, so don’t over do it. Let your instructor know that you are feeling a bit sore so he can let you in on any modifications that may be a bit lower-impact.
Your muscles need fuel for repairs. A post-workout snack may help provide your muscles with the necessary tools to begin repairs quickly, resulting in less soreness the next day. It’s pretty common knowledge that protein is essential to muscle building, but you won’t return to pain free movement if you neglect other key macronutrients. Carbohydrate rich foods help the body restore muscle glycogen (stored energy your muscles need to function) quickly and fat is essential for cell repair. An ideal post-workout snack should be mostly carbs, some protein, and a little fat. Oh, and don’t forget to drink lots of water!
Chocolate milk has been touted as the ultimate post workout snack because it loosely meets the guidelines above. But before you grab the Hershey’s syrup, ask yourself, do you really think there is a nutritional benefit to chocolate syrup? Make each part of your snack count by smartly selecting carbohydrate, protein and fat sources that are all beneficial to your body. Many super foods have anti-inflammatory properties, and work essentially the same way that NSAID pain relievers (like ibuprofen and aspirin) do. Try to work them into your snack routine.
So, what’s the ideal snack for post-Broga muscle repair? Try low-fat yogurt with fresh (or dried) blueberries, or cherries, with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. If you like the idea of a beverage better, add some ice, or better yet use frozen fruit, and turn this combo into a smoothie. Feelin’ better already?
Interested in learning more about the nuts and bolts of muscle response to exercise? Check out this article from Scientific American.
What do you think? Do you have a post-workout favorite food? Maybe a smoothie recipe you’d be willing to share? Share your input in the comment section below!
Jennifer Jasmin is a nutritionist and freelance writer living in Watertown, Massachusetts. She holds a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College, and a Graduate Certificate in Dietetics from Simmons College. In her work, Jen strives to help people find balance between real nutrition facts, and realistic health and fitness goals. Her background also includes over 15 years working in the food service industry, which adds to her unique perspective on eating well. She shares her insights, personal cooking lessons, and recipe ideas on her blog at: www.skeletonsinmykitchen.com. In addition to writing, Jen shares her passion about healthy eating in casual, approachable nutrition seminars and workshops in both corporate and community settings. To Jen, the journey to wellness is incredibly personal, and should be approached in a way that is individual, actionable and unpretentious.