By Darren Hong
Picture this. You’ve just started your biking trip, and you’re going down a massive hill. Great! You zoom down the slope until suddenly, you reach an impassable barrier. A mountain is in front of you, and it looks like it’s practically 90°. Not wanting to fall behind your friends, you bike frantically, feeling your legs burn as you climb up the edge.
The burn that every athlete feels during workouts is generally believed to be lactic acid. However, this is actually false! Microtears cause the pain that is felt during high-intensity workouts in your muscles. In the days after your exercise, you may feel Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. This soreness is your body repairing the muscle tissue, making it stronger.
Normally, the tissue is repaired while you sleep, but in order to help your body recover faster, you should plan recovery days. Recovery days are when you avoid doing any intense exercise to allow your body to recover. If you do exercise 6+ times per week, it is important to make room for recovery days for your physical and mental well-being. Immediately after exercise, stretching with yoga or a foam roller can help reduce lactic acid buildup and reduce the chance of a cramp. This also helps limit strain on your muscles and joints. Of course, nutrition is just as important to help you build muscle. The NIH recommends eating 0.4-0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Even more importantly, hydration is key during and after your workouts. See this article to learn more.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand and avoid muscle soreness after exercise. Happy Hiking!