7 Tips to Try Post-Workout

Photo: Timon Bachmann

Have you ever felt that satisfying burn in your muscles after a tough workout?

That feeling of soreness that sets in a day or two later is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. It’s a common occurrence after any intense exercise, and while it may not feel great, it’s actually a sign that your body is adapting and getting stronger.

In this blog post, we'll explore why our muscles feel sore after a workout, what Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is, how working out encourages muscle growth, and provide 7 tips for post-workout recovery.


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the discomfort or pain you may experience in your muscles 24-72 hours after a workout. DOMS typically occurs when you perform an exercise that your body isn't used to or when you increase the intensity of your workout. 

DOMS is caused by small tears in the muscle fibres that occur when we exercise. These tears are a natural and necessary part of the process that leads to muscle growth and strength gains. However, they can also cause discomfort and pain.


It’s important to be able to tell the difference between DOMS and a more serious injury. Soreness usually sets in 24-48 hours after a workout and is characterised by a dull ache or tightness in the affected muscles. On the other hand, injury pain tends to be more sharp and sudden, and may be accompanied by swelling, bruising, or limited mobility.


Whilst DOMS might be part of the process, you should not be thinking that extreme DOMS is a sign or a goal of a good workout. The saying no pain no gain is not what we are aiming for! 

Being sore is normal - especially when restarting your fitness journey or trying something your muscles are not used to. But if you are so sore that you need to miss sessions then maybe you have gone too intense too soon. Being so sore that you miss your next workout can negatively impact your consistency which in turn can impact your results and your mindset. 

The solution is to work with a coach so that you can gradually (and realistically) increase your training and to follow the recovery tips below to keep on track.


So why does working out cause our muscles to grow and adapt? It all comes down to a process called muscle protein synthesis. When we work out, we create small tears in our muscle fibres, which triggers the body to produce new proteins to repair the damage. As our bodies repair these tears, the muscles adapt to the stress and become stronger and leaner. 

This cycle of stressing the muscle through exercise, repairing and renewing leads to the growth and strengthening of the muscles, making them more resilient and able to handle future challenges.


Ever had a physio prescription and promised that you’ll do the homework but never quite managed? Or been told to stretch after a workout and not quite found the time?

We feel you!

The key to better recovery is knowing a couple of simple tips that work for you.

If they work for you there’s more chance you’ll actually do them!

Try a couple of these tips, see if you feel better and create your own go-to recovery routine:


Walking is a low-impact exercise that can help get your blood flowing and aid in recovery. Taking a short walk after your workout can help your body cool down and ease any stiffness or soreness you may feel. Walking in the days after a workout also helps increase blood flow to your muscles, which can speed up the recovery process.


Staying hydrated is crucial for your overall health, but it's especially important after a workout. Drinking water can help replenish the fluids lost during exercise. Drinking water helps your body flush out any toxins and waste products that may have built up during your workout. 


Your muscles need protein to repair and recover after a workout. Eating a protein-rich snack or meal within 30 minutes of your workout can help aid recovery and reduce muscle soreness. Good sources of protein include eggs, lean meats, fish, nuts, and beans.


Stretching can help reduce muscle tension and improve flexibility, which can aid recovery and prevent future injuries. Incorporate stretching into your post-workout routine to help ease any soreness or stiffness you may feel. Focus on the muscle groups you worked during your workout.


Taking a cold shower or swim in the lake can help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness. The cold water helps constrict blood vessels, which can help reduce swelling and promote faster recovery. There are mental health benefits with cold water therapy, sp pairing a workout with a cold shower or lake dip can double those feel good endorphins


Scheduling your next workout can help keep you accountable and motivated. It can also help your body recover more quickly, as staying active helps increase blood flow and oxygen to your muscles.Plus, it's a great way to establish a consistent workout routine. 

So you’ve read this far, had a stretch and booked your workout? Good job - it’s time to sleep!


Getting adequate sleep is essential for post-workout recovery as it promotes tissue repair, reduces inflammation, enhances the immune system, and supports overall physical and mental health. 

Sleep plays a critical role in post-workout recovery as it allows the body to repair and regenerate damaged tissues, replenish energy stores, and consolidate newly acquired skills and information. During sleep, the body releases growth hormone, which is essential for tissue repair and muscle growth.

Sleep also reduces inflammation, which is common after intense exercise and can lead to muscle soreness and pain. It does this by decreasing the production of cytokines, which are proteins that promote inflammation in the body.

Furthermore, sleep enhances the immune system, which can help the body fight off infections and other illnesses that may hinder post-workout recovery. The immune system releases cytokines and other immune cells during sleep, which can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

It is recommended that adults aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to ensure optimal recovery and performance.

Remember, the most important thing is to listen to your body and understand that soreness after a workout is a normal response and sign of growth. 

The final secret: working out more consistently reduces DOMS.



"Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)" American College of Sports Medicine, https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-(DOMS).pdf
"What Causes Muscle Soreness and Stiffness?" Harvard Health Publishing, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-causes-muscle-soreness-and-stiffness
"Recovery and Recovery Techniques" American Council on Exercise, https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/3616/recovery-and-recovery-techniques/


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