The satisfying sensation of aches and pains we feel after a good workout or game is that healthy burn caused by endorphins.
However, once the initial high wears off, what athletes are left with is muscle soreness. DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is common when you try a new exercise program, change your routine, or overdo it during a game. Microscopic damage to the muscle fibers occurs when you push your muscles beyond their usual workload. This is nothing to be alarmed about and should be explained particularly to young athletes that this simply means that the soreness they are experiencing is the process by which our bodies build and strengthen muscles.
While there are preventive measures to reduce muscle soreness in the future, there are still some methods to ease the pain once you have them. The process of recovery is important as muscles and tissue repair takes place.
Here are some tips for your young athletes to deal with after-game muscle soreness:
Post-game, carbohydrates and proteins are what you can call recovery food.
Carbohydrates replace the glycogen stores (energy) that your athletes would have used during the game. Simple carbohydrates that can easily be absorbed quickly by the body like sports drinks and fruits are ideal.
Protein repairs muscles and enhances the body’s growth and aids in repair during the period of recovery. A quick and delicious protein for young athletes is chocolate milk. Scientists have discovered that chocolate milk contains all the nutrients that the body needs to replenish itself after a workout or a game.
To repair itself, muscles need between 24 and 48 hours. If your young athlete is experiencing muscle soreness and pain, they should be advised to avoid any strenuous activity until they have fully recovered. Exerting themselves before they’ve had the chance to recover increases the risk of tissue breakdown and possible injury.
Sleep is crucial in the successful strengthening and repair of your body as it creates natural testosterone and melatonin, aiding in the regeneration of cells. Tissues repair themselves fastest when you sleep compared to any other time of the day.
Stretching pre-game is ideal to avoid injuries and post-game soreness; it’s also an excellent way to reduce muscle tension after a game. While it cannot immediately ease the aches, the stretching is relaxing and a method to calm the mind which will speed up the recovery process, physically and physiologically.
4. Cold/Hot treatment
Professional athletes jump into ice baths for quick soaks after a game or high-intensity workout. It’s been observed that this can significantly reduce muscle soreness. Later in the day, they might apply a heating pad which stimulates blood flow, loosening up sore muscles.
These treatments may not be advisable for younger athletes but can be an option for teen athletes under supervision.