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Wellness / April 9, 2018

Sick of being sore? Follow these 5 steps.

Written by: Morris Brossette

It’s an unfortunate fact of life: working out makes us sore. When we train, race, or play, we create tiny micro-tears in our muscle tissue. These tears hurt, and they produce a slight inflammatory response that starts the healing process. This is how we grow bigger, stronger, faster, etc.

But when the training/race/adventure is too intense, our bodies’ inflammatory responses can turn against us. We experience excessive soreness, muscular weakness, tight/stiff muscles and joints, and more. Without attention, these can reduce performance and cause injury.

Below, I’ve compiled five guidelines that I give to every athlete/client of mine to help reduce inflammation and speed recovery. This protocol has helped my Ironman, ultra-marathon, and obstacle course clients recover in record time.


1. Eat anti-inflammatory foods

The foods you eat have a profound impact on your ability to recover from hard training sessions, adventures, or races. Eating highly acidic foods, such as processed refined grains, poor quality grain-fed meats, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, and excess sugar (anything over 7g/serving) can actually increase inflammation and impede recovery time.

Instead of reaching for one of the aforementioned foods, choose foods that will reduce acidity in your body, reduce inflammation, and speed recovery. My “go to” anti-inflammatory foods are:


Coconut oil

This super food has many health benefits, one being fighting inflammation. Use it to sauté vegetables, as a spread (it’s a good substitute for butter), or as a lotion.


Green veggies

If it’s green and it grows from the ground, it’s good for you. (Unless it’s poison, of course.)

Green vegetables a great source of vitamins and nutrients, and these nutrients help mitigate inflammation and raise our body’s pH level (making us less acidic).

The darken green a veggie is, the more nutrient-dense it is. So your best options are collards, kale, and spinach. Sauté them in a little coconut oil and you’ve got a double whammy of goodness to help you heal quickly.


Kale, collard greens, and Swiss Chard are all excellent recovery foods. Carrots aren't bad either.

Wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat

When trying to rebuild damaged muscles, few things are more helpful than the amino acids found in meat.

Wild-caught fish like salmon are very high in omega-3 fatty acids and therefore not only give you the protein you need to repair muscles, but also the omegas to fight inflammation. Grass-fed meats, although a bit more acidic, have a much higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Too many omega-6 fats are very inflammatory, so avoid processed pork and fatty chicken parts (like drumsticks and thighs).


2. Breathe

Diaphragmatic breathing, commonly known as “belly breathing,” has been used for many years to calm our bodies down from the “fight or flight” nervous system response. Breathing this way (deeply, from the belly) produces a state of calm and has been shown to reduce blood pressure and reduce stress and anxiety.

Diaphragmatic or "belly" breathing involves a series of slow, deep breaths that fill up the belly rather than the chest. Image courtesy of Remedial Class.

When done daily, usually before and/or after a stressful situation, this process can actually reduce inflammation and speed muscle recovery. Calm your breath and your mind, and your body will follow suit.


3. Move

When sore from a workout or race, many people believe they should rest and not move at all. They treat inflammation like an injury and follow a procedure not unlike the old R.I.C.E. (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) protocol.

This approach actually lengthens the recovery process and can create stiffness and tightness in your connective tissue and joints. Even after racing a full Ironman distance triathlon I, and my clients, will go through an easy recovery movement protocol the following day.

Sitting still slows your circulation, so fewer nutrients will get to your sore muscles. Incorporating non-impact movements like a recovery swim, an easy spin on a bike, or MOGA (mobility yoga) for 15-20 minutes a day will increase your bloodflow without creating new muscle tears, and can greatly improve recovery time.


4. Take a Cold Contrast shower

Cold therapy is a time-tested method for reducing inflammation, improving immune function, and balancing hormones. Think, for example, of the ice baths athletes take after a game.

You can greatly improve your own recovery time by combining cold therapy with heat, Just jump in a cold shower, which will constrict your blood vessels and shunt blood away from your muscles and toward your vital organs. Then introduce warm or hot water, opening up the vessels and re-introducing oxygen to your tissue. This process delivers a power punch of oxygen and nutrients.

Start by just taking your post-workout shower as you usually would. Then go through the following protocol 10 times: stand under cold water for 20 seconds, then under warm water for 10. Be sure to end the cycle on cold water.


5. Take the right supplements

There seem to be a bazillion supplements on the market that tout recovery benefits. Many of them are bogus, but I do recommend a three supplements to my clients:

  1. Omega-3 (in the form of Krill Oil)
  2. Bioastin (12 mg capusules)
  3. Solgar Curcumin

These three supplements have been proven to reduce inflammation, and they are my go-tos for recover from hard training sessions, races, or injuries.

Have any questions or comments about these tips? Contact our editor at [email protected] or email Mo directly at [email protected] 

about the author

Morris Brossette

Morris “Mo” Brossette grew up running, hiking, biking, and basically living everyday in the woods. Each day was a new adventure of building forts, exploring new areas, and even as a child, creating obstacle courses and other physical challenges to build strength and fitness.

read more

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