They tend to leave you knocked out and unwilling to continue doing sports, but with these keys you will surely be able to keep them at bay.
They are annoying, sometimes they can even be painful and no one is free of them. It seems like a riddle, but it does not take much thought to know that we are referring to stiffness, that muscle stiffness that appears at the end of a training session reducing the ability to move the affected area or after a great physical effort.
The risk of suffering them is always present, whether we are beginners and our body is not used to them, or if we change our usual routine or increase the intensity. Fortunately, they do not last forever, and although they usually manifest themselves between 24 and 48 hours after the effort, they reach their maximum peak of pain between 48 and 72 hours after the activity. After that period, we are safe.
But have you ever stopped to think why they occur? Current studies point to an inflammatory reaction in response to small breaks in the fibers that occur when the muscle is subjected to an exercise of an intensity to which it is not accustomed as the main cause. And these give way to an inflammatory reaction that is finally what produces the pain. That is why it is more common for people who have not trained for a long time or who have less training experience to suffer the most from them.
Keys to prevention
Now that we know why they occur, the key is to learn how to reduce them and not simply blame them and hide behind them to put training aside. Nor is it a matter of avoiding at all costs the exercises that make our muscles contract with force as they lengthen, or stop doing squats, push-ups or running downhill, but at least take it into account.
To be honest, we may never be able to make stiffness disappear 100%, but what we can do is work to reduce the intensity and duration of muscle soreness.
Many people propose stretching. Unfortunately, we have to say that scientific studies have not been able to prove that doing so has benefits in the prevention of muscle soreness. What is true is that muscles learn to adapt to the forces exerted on the body. Therefore, the best way to prevent stiffness is to warm up gradually.
The ten percent rule is the one that has obtained the best results in this regard. This consists of not increasing the time and intensity of our training by more than 10% per week until our body has adapted to the effort. In addition, we should avoid making abrupt changes in the type of exercise.
If the gym is your thing, start weight training with a high number of repetitions but a low weight, and gradually increase the amount of weight as the weeks go by.
Beyond stretching, it is advisable to do a complete warm-up before the activity and cool-down exercises afterwards. This, together with proper hydration and a good diet appropriate to our exercise, will also help to reduce the effects of stiffness. Listen to what your own body tells you. It is essential that you let it rest until the pain disappears completely before you subject it to a new bout of intense exercise.