Despite the snow on the ground, spring sports season has started here in Utah. Yay!! Our weather here is unpredictable at best and we are often playing baseball or running track in a few inches of snow or ice. And yet, spring sports (more specifically, track and field) have a place in my heart (ok, all sports do). But spring sports are one of the few things that will get me out the door at 3:30 am to drive several hours, to sit outside in freezing weather, getting dumped on by rain, with a big fat smile on my face!
I remember those first few weeks of preconditioning training when I was a high school athlete. Even though I was usually coming off of some kind of winter sports season, I was never fully prepared physically for what the first several workouts of spring training would do to my muscles. Back then, all I knew to do to deal with the pain and build up of lactic acid was to grin and bear it. “Keep running” the coaches would say, “eventually it will get better”. And they were right. But now, after years of coaching, I have gained some tools I wish I would have had back then. And when my athletes walk gingerly up and down the stairs with that grimace on their face that only comes from the intense pain of tight and sore muscles, I feel confident I can help ease some of their discomfort.
Use a foam roller.
Rolling out those sore muscles (though it hurts like crazy when you do) will help break down the membrane around the muscle and allow the muscle to expand and contract with less pain. So, how do you do it? Lay the roller on the ground and place your body on it, with the sore muscle area directly on top of the roller. It will be uncomfortable. Use your body weight to roll back and forth across the sore muscle, pausing on the most painful parts. It’s like trying to work a knot out in your shoulders, put some pressure on the specific muscle or knot, and it eventually releases. Now, this is not for the faint of heart, it can really be uncomfortable. I encourage my athletes to use it before practice from day one, and use it again after practice, and often again at night. This will help prevent a lot of the stiffness that comes from those initial workouts.
Take a detox bath.
Add 1-2 cups epsom salt, 1 cup baking soda, and 3-4 drops of pure doTERRA lavendar essential oil (quality is important and this is the only brand that I trust) to a warm bath. Soak just before bed. This will help relax the muscles and also help release toxins that build up in your body. Remember to drink lots of water as well, that helps release toxins also.
Use Deep Blue Essential Oil and/or Deep Blue Rub from doTERRA.
There are a tons of rubs and muscle relaxing creams on the market, and over the years I have tried most of them. They all work to some extent, but this is by far my favorite, and the only one I trust to put directly on my skin. To use: Gently massage a pea size of the Deep Blue rub directly onto the affected area (make sure there are no open wounds). It will be warm and tingly, as it works it’s magic to relax the muscles. To have an even more powerful experience, rub one to two drops of Deep Blue Oil on the sore muscle, followed by the pea size of the rub. And wash your hands (this stuff is warm and getting it in your eyes isn’t fun). If you find that it is too warm for your liking, rub some coconut or olive (or any other oil in your pantry) over the affected area until it is comfortable.
Yes, the advice my coaches gave me so many years ago still stands. As long as you haven’t injured any of those muscles, keeping them moving is a great way to get rid of the soreness. It will just take time. But stopping because you are sore only prolongs the process of helping them become accustomed to the new workouts, because you will continue to get sore every time you start working those muscles again. So buck up and bear through the first two weeks of practice, using any or all of the aids above, and know that it will get better over time.