Your sweat sesh should leave your body feeling great, but that’s not always the case—especially when that dreaded burning, stiffening, cramping muscle-sensation starts to kick in. “When we challenge our muscles during exercise, our muscle fibres are in the process of tearing and repairing themselves,” says Jillian Mariani, a certified yoga teacher (200-Hour YTT), founder of Niyama Yoga Wellness. “As our muscles repair and strengthen, they produce lactic acid.” This is what builds up and causes muscle burn and post-practice stiffening and soreness.
Furthermore, when you work out, you sweat, and your body loses moisture and electrolytes. “Electrolytes are important because they affect how our muscles function, how much water we are able to retain in our bodies, and how acidic or alkaline our blood is,” says Mariani. So if you’re running low on electrolytes, you are likely to experience symptoms like muscle fatigue, cramping, and joint pain.
So, what can you do to prevent muscle soreness?
Especially if you sweat a lot during your practice, you may want your water to work harder, explains Mariani. Adding a supplement that contains electrolytes, like potassium, calcium, and magnesium to your post-practice water is a great way to repair muscles. Also, pay attention to fermented amino acids L-leucine and L-glutamine, both of which aid in muscle repair. Although it’s common to consume these amino acids through your diet whenever you eat complete protein sources, “when we challenge our muscles, we can deplete them,” she says. ” So supplementing right after exercise can help with faster recovery and less next-day muscle soreness.”
Which electrolyte supplement is suitable for those with dietary restrictions?
Mariani created Niyama’s After Practice Replenish & Repair with the yoga community in mind. “Many yogis are vegan,” she says. They practice ahimsa (doing no harm to living things), so all of her products are non-GMO, free of gluten, soy and dairy, and use no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners. Especially with more people shifting towards a plant-based diet and discovering new allergies and intolerances they didn’t even know they had, creating a brand that was completely transparent with its ingredients is something Mariani holds dear to her heart. “To me, it’s an extension of honesty and integrity—and without it, there can’t be trust,” she says. And although Mariani created this supplement with yogis in mind, she stresses that it’s not just for using post-yoga practice: “It’s excellent for after any fitness activity or sport when you work up a sweat and challenge your muscles.”
Are there any other ways to prevent muscle soreness?
Along with adding a scoop of After Practice Replenish & Repair in her post-practice water, Mariani loves incorporating a few foam roller moves to help release tight muscles and turmeric in her diet (a natural anti-inflammatory herb) to nourish her joints. (Here are 12 delicious turmeric recipes you’ll want to make right away.)
Should you also prepare muscles for exercise to minimize post-workout soreness?
If you’re already suffering from stiffness or muscle and joint pain, a great way to remain active while reducing any discomfort is to invest in a pre-exercise cream. (Try RUB A535 Sport Warm-Up Cream.) Containing active ingredients, like methyl salicylate, menthol and eucalyptus essential oil, “this cream generates a local heating effect when applied on the skin to provide relief for pain in muscles or joints,” says Dr. Alain Desjardins, B.Sc, PhD, R&D Development Manager at Church & Dwight Canada. Note: Dr. Desjardins recommends using a warm-up cream as a solution to help lower your pain threshold, not to be a replacement for your warm-up exercises.
Shop our favourite pre- and post-workout products that can help reduce muscle soreness:
Sport Warm-Up Cream, $8.97; available at mass retailers
Next, check out 6 stretches that are a must-add to your post-workout routine.