Whether you just finished a session with your personal trainer or took one of the many high intensity classes at Lucille Roberts, even the most avid gym-goer has experienced muscle soreness. Although there are many factors which contribute to muscle soreness, one of the most important is the formation of lactic acid in the muscles.
The good news is that you can help your body clear more of this lactic acid and thus reduce the soreness in your muscles by adding just a few minutes of core exercises to the end of your workout. When we work out, our body relies on one of two energy systems to provide our muscles with the power to contract. These systems are either the aerobic (oxygen-requiring) or anaerobic (non-oxygen-requiring) energy systems. The anaerobic energy system offers a rapid release of energy lasting approximately 2 minutes in duration. However, this burst of energy is limited by the formation of lactic acid (lactate). While a majority of the lactic acid formed in our tissues is cleared by our body through muscle metabolic pathways, the lactic acid that remains is a primary contributor to muscle soreness.
Studies have shown that performing core stabilization exercises after intense bouts of exercise can decrease lactate levels by as much as 22%! A 2007 study (by Navalta et. al) found that performing core stabilization exercises–including side plank, cobra, and prone plank–was more effective at reducing lactate levels when compared to just resting after a hard workout. Based on this finding, incorporating core stability exercises during your cool-down period offers a new technique for clearing lactic acid from the body. In other words, by adding these exercises to the end of your workout, you may feel less muscle soreness later on!
So, at the end of your next intense workout, try to incorporate a series of forearm planks, side planks, and pushup planks. (If you have questions about how to perform these moves properly, ask one of our certified personal trainers.) Let us know whether this helps reduce your post-workout soreness!