Family · Food · Wellness

Wellness Wednesday: Muscle Pain and Chocolate Milk

My youngest daughter started basketball practice this weekend; she’s playing in a local church league. To my (and my husband’s) surprise, she seems to have a knack for the game. Neither one of us are very adept at it. She had a great time Saturday running, dribbling, and shooting drills at practice. We were lucky that this Saturday was warm and sunny as the weather here has been gray and rainy for the past few weeks. Since the weather was good I encouraged my children to play outside in the sunshine that afternoon.   After weeks of mostly indoor living we all could use the Vitamin D. We live on a sloped lot so my husband pulled the cars out of the garage so Peyton could practice her dribbling on a flat surface, but she soon tired of that and wanted to practice her shooting. She convinced her father to take them to their school playground to practice her layups and free throws. I enjoyed a few peaceful hours on my sunny front porch reading a magazine (unbelievable, right?). They returned later in the afternoon and my husband was full of stories about Peyton’s basketball abilities. The girls managed to play outside until the sun went down.

Of course as soon as it was bedtime Peyton’s leg was “too sore” for her to sleep (mind you, it had been close to 6 hours since she had practiced and not a peep about being sore before this). Her muscle that runs along the outside of her shinbone on her left leg was knotted up. I tried to rub on it but of course she acted like I was trying to rip her leg in two! My girls are such drama queens. Are boys the same way? So I gave her some ibuprofen and slathered the leg with an essential oil blend that I created for muscle pain and tried to send her to bed. She refused to give the pain rub time to work and continued to complain, so we tried some ice. I finally got her back into bed with two icepacks on her leg held into place with a large soccer sock. I wish I had taken pictures; it was actually quite comical looking.

By the next morning the pain had lessened but her muscles were still very tight and she was “favoring” the leg. My husband and I perform yoga every morning so we made her “stretch” with us. She whined (of course) but attempted to perform the poses with us. After about 30 minutes of “downward dog”, “cat/cow”, “child’s pose”, “ragdoll” and other poses, she had improved. And we never heard another word about it.

What we learned (my husband and I, not PJ of course) is that she needs to stretch before and after basketball practice. My research has also “netted” this: a glass of chocolate milk following basketball would probably also be a good idea. The purpose of a post-workout recovery drink is to replenish glycogen (sugar) stores in the muscle and start the process of protein synthesis (muscle rebuilding) so that your body is ready for the next workout. The combination of carbohydrates and protein in low-fat milk appears to be “just right” for refueling weary muscles, says William Lunn, PhD, a scientist at the University of Connecticut. In his study comparing chocolate milk, an electrolyte replacement (like Gatorade), and a carbohydrate replacement (Endurox R4), post-exercise muscle showed increased skeletal muscle protein synthesis — a sign that muscles were better able to rebuild — after the milk drink, compared with the carb-only beverage. Additionally, drinking fat-free chocolate milk led to a higher concentration of glycogen, or muscle fuel, in muscles 30 and 60 minutes after exercise, compared with the sports drink. Replenishing glycogen after exercise helps future performance, Lunn says. Any type of milk will replace carbohydrates and protein, but flavored milk (chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla) has a more beneficial ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrates to protein for muscle recovery and rebuilding because of the added carbs (sugar) in flavored milk. While all this information is a little complicated, the “take home” message is clear: drinking flavored milk after a workout helps your muscles recover and that should lead to less pain later. What kid is going to refuse chocolate milk? Sounds like a win-win to me.

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