Have you ever taken so much time away from the gym that when you come back for your first workout, you are so sore that you can’t move for days? As a result, you really contemplate if it was worth it to go back in the first place. This happened to me back around Memorial Day when I took some time off from working out regularly (switched it with Jiu Jitsu), I ended up getting rhabdomyolysis and I had to take another 4 weeks away from the gym. If you don’t know what that is, rhabdomyolysis is a condition where the muscles get worked so hard that they start to break down which causes muscle swelling, weakness, and pain. If not managed correctly it could be a medical emergency. No need to worry though, it can happen if we push our bodies way beyond our abilities.
But for those who haven’t gotten rhabdomyolysis but were extremely sore after your first workout, there are ways for you to overcome the soreness after taking time off. The causes for muscle soreness are multifactorial, but mostly related to training volume (number of reps) and the body’s ability to adapt. When you take time off of working out, the body will not be able to handle as many reps as before. Your mind might be able to handle that work, but the reality is that the body will most likely lose its conditioning and strength abilities within 3 days of not working out.
So in order for you to get back to training with minimal pain and soreness (there will be some), these action steps will help you get back on the horse.
For every month you are away from the gym, subtract 10% of the preprogrammed repetitions and weight. This is something that I prescribe to my injured athletes to help them make the necessary adaptations to their workouts. This is used to limit soreness and also prevent flare-ups of previous pain.
Stay hydrated. Hydration is key to overall body function, so if you are thirsty, grab a quick chug that ice cold water. In fact, colder water ingested by chugging can be absorbed much faster than sipping room temperature water.
Keep moving. Muscle soreness is mostly caused by micro-tears in the muscles that cause some swelling and pain. Movement will help pump those muscles to move fluids around and result in you feeling less stiff. This will then result in better overall movement and a faster recovery.
Eat lean proteins and veggies at every meal. Consider fueling your body with high quality foods that will help facilitate energy replenishment as well as minimize overall inflammation (more processed foods lead to inflammation and won’t help the cause)
Foam rolling can be helpful with the reduction of general soreness. The great thing is that you don’t have to have a fancy roller. In fact, if you have a rolling pin, they will do just fine. There are many resources online on how and where to rollout.
Being sore is not fun. However, it is going to temporary and the more you workout, the stronger and healthier you will feel; not to mention, your bouts of intense soreness will be fewer and far between. So next time you take time off away from the gym, consider the action steps above to help you recover faster and get back into your routine.
Have a great day,