Working out is not for the weak.
One day you lace up your shoes, switch on your “I can do anything” playlist, and head out the door for a nice long run. You get past the first mile of “ugh – my legs/feet/head are too tired for this” and are just hitting a nice easy stride, when BOOM. A side cramp comes from nowhere and leaves you with the choice to run slowly, walk, or bear through the pain. Or a calf cramp strikes and does force you to stop altogether.
Or how about when you try a new exercise during your HIIT class, and the next day you can hardly walk, climb stairs, or even sit down without groaning due to your overworked muscles? A little bit of muscle soreness after a workout is okay, but when you’re so sore that nearly every movement is painful; that’s pretty rough.
It’s just all part of the workout gig, right? Something you’ve just got to live with? Well, while there may be some truth to the “no pain, go gain” rule of exercise, there are a few foods that might be able to help control muscle soreness and muscle cramps.
For muscle cramps, many people know that eating bananas is a smart choice thanks to the potassium they hold. Potassium works to keep a proper electrolyte/water balance in our bodies which is key to proper muscle functioning. Other foods that can give you a potassium boost include sweet potatoes, white beans, and broccoli. And since we know that exercise-induced muscle cramps often occur when the body’s balance of sodium, water, and potassium gets off-kilter, especially if your workout is a long one, you could likely benefit from some added sodium. If the tried-and-true sports drinks (some of which do a nice job of providing the just-right combination of electrolytes and sodium) are too mainstream for you, there is another option. Many athletes swear by downing pickle juice before and during workouts. We’ll leave that one up to your own discretion. And if we get a whiff of dill pickle in the studio, we won’t say a word.
To help prevent muscle soreness, you’ll do well to enjoy a cup of tart cherry juice after your workout. Different from their more popular dark and sweet counterpart, tart cherries contain the ability to decrease post-workout pain, and minimize post weightlifting recovery time. You can opt for the dried version instead for the same benefits, just watch for added sugars. Another great recovery food is cottage cheese. This diet-friendly food contains two different types of protein: whey and casein. While whey starts acting right away to replenish muscles, casein continues to work long after your workout, even helping repair your muscles as you sleep.
And if you prefer a one-stop food choice that helps with both cramping and soreness? Give turmeric a try. This staple ingredient in curries and satay dishes is the overachiever of the food world, and its benefits cover a ton of ailments. Turmeric contains the chemical curcumin that is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Find a ton of easy ideas for ways to easily and conveniently incorporate this spice into your life here: https://foodbabe.com/2015/09/03/15-ways-to-add-anti-inflammatory-turmeric-root-to-your-life/.