It’s that time of year. Daylight savings time has given us an extra hour of sunlight each day, bikinis are popping up in stores, and bare legs and shoulders are coming soon, if not already out in the world. My daily workout definitely tends to shift towards a gentle hibernation period in the winter, so the springtime leads me back to the gym and my yoga mat, where I combat sore muscles once I’m back on a more regular schedule. I’m sharing my arsenal of three of my favorite post-workout recovery tricks with you! I hope they’ll help ease your muscles to make your spring amp-up easier on your body, and easier to maintain throughout ALL four seasons.
Arnica: Arnica is a plant in the sunflower family that’s used in homeopathic medicine as a pain reliever for muscle aches and stiffness. Apply a few times a day for best results, and feel your tough workout woes fade in record time. I usually buy it in gel form, although you can get it in cream and ointment form as well. Bonus: The topical treatment also helps bruises disappear way faster than they would normally.
Epsom salt: Epson salt…is not actually salt, weird I know. It’s actually a mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate, and when dissolved in warm water it will easily absorb through the skin. You can buy it anywhere bath products are sold, and it’s often infused with lavender or other soothing scents. Dissolve at least 2 cups in your warm bath and soak for a good 10 to 15 minutes to relax and gain all the soothing benefits. This natural remedy will reduce inflammation, help muscle and nerve function, improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins, and ease headaches. It has been shown to reduce stress, relieve pain and muscle cramps, and help to eliminate toxins and heavy metals from the body. Bonus: You can use a teaspoon of epsom salt mixed with a gentle face or body wash for a deep exfoliating scrub!
Self-myofascial trigger point release, AKA “foam rolling”: Myofascial release is a treatment for skeletal muscle immobility and pain, similar to a deep-tissue (fascia) massage. This therapy can help to relax muscles and improve blood and lymphatic circulation. You can perform this type of self-treatment with a foam roller, massage ball, or even just a tennis or lacrosse ball. To start, find a spot on the floor where you have the freedom to move your whole body around. Roll the part of your body that’s a bit sore on top of your foam roller or ball until you feel a trigger point. You’ll know it when you find it – it will be… uncomfortable. (No holding back – It might hurt). Stop for 15 to 20 seconds, maintaining pressure on that uncomfortable spot. Remember: you don’t need to roll around to get the benefit. You roll around to find the spot, and then just try to relax while maintaining the pressure with your body weight. Practicing this regularly after workouts can help keep your body in optimal physical condition so you can perform at your very best. It can help prevent injuries, release knots and tightness, increase flexibility, and reduce soreness (Jamie’s note: I LOVE my foam roller).
– Jo Walker, Intern
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