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Monday, September 22, 2014

Muscle Soreness 411

We all know that feeling.  Wake up the morning (or 2 mornings) after a great workout, put your feet on the floor, and try to stand up.  Ouch.  Yup, you have some sore muscles.  Just try to walk down the stairs.  Owwwchihuahua.

Last week I was asked to help out on the Fitfluential Blog and answer a Twitter question about muscle soreness.  Here's the 411 on muscle soreness AND what you can eat to help it.


When your muscles are sore, you can thank lactic acid.  Lactic acid is a totally normal byproduct of muscle metabolism, ie when you ask your muscles to do big work then lactic acid builds up.  It’s normal, however it can cause muscle soreness. 

What’s another key culprit of muscle soreness?  White blood cells and other nutrients flood muscles post-workout to help repair the damage that was done. (Remember, when you lift or workout you’re causing tiny microtears in the muscle that must be repaired.  As the muscle repairs it becomes stronger and hypertrophy occurs).  As these nutrients and cells flood the muscle there is some swelling involved and this leads to soreness that can last for anywhere from 1 – 5 days.
We can all remember a time when we experienced soreness, but are there certain workouts or muscles that are more susceptible to soreness?

From my experience and research any exercise is capable of producing soreness if you’re doing microscope damage to the muscle fibers, however in my personal opinion eccentric exercise provide the greatest level of soreness.  Eccentric exercises are also called “negative” and they are the lowering portions of the lift.  For example on a seated leg extension, as you straighten your legs that’s the positive part of the movement and lowering your legs back down is the negative.  Some workout protocols would call for anywhere from a 30-second to a 10-second negative phase and that would cause my body to be SUPER sore during recovery.

Also if you’re working muscles that have been neglected or you haven’t trained consistently you might experience a greater level or soreness.  For me this happens with the calves.  You might also find soreness when trying a new exercise or upping the intensity of your current routine.
Finally the size of the muscle won’t affect the ability to induce soreness, but it may cause you to feel greater discomfort.  Sore gluteal (aka the butt) muscles will be a lot more noticeable in daily activities than sore biceps (which I’m experiencing today!)

Denny Locascio, personal trainer and owner of Impact Fitness in Tampa, Fl says:
-       Everyone associates soreness with a good workout but their isn't any research that supports that.  Best way to determine your progress is to physically track your workouts (weights, reps, time, etc).

Kyle Bealert, ACE certified personal trainer and owner of Evolution Fitness Orlando says:
-       If you’re doing the same workout and you find yourself more sore in a week then it’s time to take a look at your sleep and your diet.  Poor sleep quality or not getting enough sleep can make it harder for your body to repair and may cause soreness to linger longer than usual.  Also ask yourself how you’ve been eating.  Big workouts require you to fuel with protein, carbohydrates, and foods high in antioxidants to boost recovery.  What happens in the gym doesn't just stay in the gym, so make sure you’re preparing your body to recover around the clock.

Now to the second part of your question – FOOD!
Having a balanced diet full of lean protein and lots of colorful fruits and vegetables is your best bet for overall wellness.  But there are key nutrients that have been shown to reduce soreness and help speed muscle healing.  I’m a big advocate of having 15-30 grams of whey protein immediately following a workout.  I combine this with carbohydrates from tart cherry juice to speed recovery plus the tart cherry juice has been shown to fight soreness.  See below for more answers from other RD’s and know that I have every single thing Rikki Keen advises in my house and I eat them weekly if not daily.

-       From Rikki Keen, RD who  is a sports Dietitian, Adjunct Professor who works with the performance lab at University of Alaska, works with Coach Tom Shaw at ESPN Wide World of Sports, and FRS Healthy Performance.
o   Focus on these core nutrients:
§  Quercetin via FRS
§  Omega-3’s from Nordic Naturals
§  Whey protein
§  Tart cherries

According to Kristina LaRue, Registered Dietitian, CSSD, and blogger at Love & Zest, "Athletes can reduce post exercise muscle soreness and speed recovery by eating anti-inflammatory foods." Here are her favorites:
o   Fatty fish — Salmon and tuna are rich on omega 3 fatty acids that fight off toxins that cause muscle soreness and reduces risk of overuse injuries. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin D and high quality protein that increase muscle protein synthesis allowing the muscles to rebuild and repair properly.
o   Tart Cherries— Anthocyanins, natural compounds found in Montmorency tart cherries are effective in enhancing recovery by reducing joint pain muscle soreness. Research shows that 8 ounces of tart cherry juice or 2 tablespoons of concentrate 2 times per day is effective in reducing inflammation in as little as 7 days!
o   Nuts and seeds especially pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium which is a mineral lost through sweat and deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, cramps, and poor recovery.
o   Bell pepper— vitamin C plays a large role in connective tissue repair and is an antioxidant that promotes recovery.
o   Kefir— probiotics help support gut heath reducing inflammation from the inside out.
o   Apples/Berries/Grapes/onions—Quercetin, a pigment found in apples, berries, grapes and onions has a potent anti-inflammatory effect.


I hope that we answered your question and you have a plan of action next time you feel the post workout DOMS setting in!  As you can see from the RD's key post-workout, beat soreness nutrients are omega 3's, quercetin, and tart cherries!

Love and ouchies, 
Carissa & Kyle

Monday, September 15, 2014

Full Body Workout from DisneyLand

Travel is NOT an excuse to miss workouts.  Repeat after me - travel is NOT an excuse.

During the RunDisney race season and for other events I travel quite a bit and I'm happy to report that most hotel gyms can give you an adequate workout.  Some are actually quite nice!

This workout was designed to be done at the gym at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel.  Keyword WAS.  Who knew the gym moved and got new equipment....not me.  So you can do this workout anywhere and I did do it at that gym with a few modifications.
It's a full body workout organized in 3x3 fashion, but it can be done at your traditional gym too.  You'll alternate a weight set, with a body weight set, and a shoulder superset to finish.  Then you can add in ab work on your own if you want.
I hope you have a great workout on your next trip!
How do you stay fit when you travel?
What's the #1 piece of equipment you want a gym to have?

Love and lifting in the redwoods,
Carissa & Kyle

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Grocery Store Mythbusters


The definition of myth is a widely held BUT false belief or idea.  As a Registered Dietitian, I deal with my fair share debunking of food myths.  Today I'm sharing a recent segment that I did on Emotional Mojo (now airing on the WE network weekdays at 6am) about 3 popular food myths.

The first myth is that 100% Fruit Juice is just “Empty Calories”.  The truth is that in the correct amount,  100% fruit juice delivers nutrition squeezed from whole fruit and it can have some great health benefits. That’s why I like Welch's 100% Grape Juice. It’s made with Concord grapes and is a convenient, delicious and nutritious way to incorporate more fruit into a heart-healthy diet. As a complement to whole fruit, each 4-oz. glass counts as one serving (1/2 cup) of fruit, with no added sugar.
The second myth is the carbs and bread is bad for you.  I say "false".  Unless you have Celiac Disease or a diagnosed gluten-sensitivyt then bread can be a great way to add whole grain, fiber, and vitamins into your diet.  Remember, carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source for your brain, so you might think a little better after a filling, healthy sandwich!


The final myth is that you can’t lick the bowl and eat the dough when making cookies.  Well I did my entire childhood and I'm okay, but there is a safer way using pasteurized eggs. Most eggs in shell are not pasteurized and if you eat them raw or undercooked, they cause 4 out of 5 cases of salmonella sickness. Kids under 4 are 4 times more likely to get foodborne illness, so pasteurized eggs are an excellent choice in many households.  
Awkward screen shot face FTW!
What food myth do you believe?
Any myth questions you want me to answer?

Love and eaten' that cookie dough,
Carissa & Kyle