Ask almost any athlete if he or she has a certain area that often hurts, and they are likely to share at least one troublesome area. Muscle stiffness is tightness and tension in your muscles, and for active people, it's as common as sweating. Fortunately, there are techniques that will help you alleviate the discomfort so you can focus on training harder.
1. Foam Rolling
Foam rollers have become popular in recent years, and it makes perfect sense why— they work. Foam rollers can help you isolate the area that is plaguing you, break down the muscle tissue so nutrient-rich blood can fill the area, help it recover and serve as a form of massage therapy you can do yourself.
It makes sense that if an area is tight, stretching will loosen it up. The problem is that stretching isn't discussed enough and is all too often neglected. You should make it a point to stretch before, during and after training, not only to relieve stiffness but also to increase flexibility so you can actually help prevent muscle stiffness in the future.
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3. Drink Plenty of Water
Seventy percent of your muscles are water. It should make sense that you need to drink plenty of water to support your training and recovery. Make it a priority to drink at least 20 ounces of water as soon as you're finished with your game or training and around a gallon a day to help your muscles stay hydrated so they won't get tight later.
4. Hit the Shower
A warm shower or sitting in a hot tub raises your body temperature, increases circulation and relaxes the muscles. Spending around 10 minutes in warm water helps your muscles long after that 10 minutes is over, because you'll be less likely to deal with stiffness later. While you're in the water, take a minute or two to rub any troubled areas.
Post-Workout Recovery Protocol to Relieve or Prevent Muscle Stiffness
- Foam Rolling — 5 minutes on troubled area and 5 more minutes for the whole body.
- Stretching — 5 minutes stretching troubled area and 3-5 more minutes for the whole body.
- Drink 20 ounces of water while you're rolling and stretching.
- 10 minutes in a hot shower or sitting in a hot tub. Take a couple of minutes while you're in the water to massage the troubled area.
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