Imagine a disruptive process is taking place in your body as you are logging miles on the treadmill. It's a fight to the death, as fat molecules are replaced by new muscle, and delicate chemical balances teeter, their concentrations fluctuating. However, armed with four important minerals, your muscles need not suffer from the electrolyte deficiencies that cause sore muscles after a workout.
Potassium is an important electrolyte. From strengthening bones to helping your heart pump and keeping your digestion and muscular systems kicking, the mineral has a busy job. You lose potassium through your sweat when you exercise, though. The harder you exercise, or the hotter the environment, the more potassium you can lose. According to the National Institutes of Health, not having enough potassium in your blood can cause muscle pain after a workout. If your workout is long or intense, refuel with a low-calorie electrolyte drink. Keep a bunch of potassium-rich bananas on hand for an after-workout snack.
Magnesium is another mineral that influences the whole body. From telling the body how to store and use vitamins and nutrients, to making bones and teeth, magnesium doesn't have time to take a day off. The University Of Maryland Medical Center notes that because of modern diets, Americans don't often eat enough magnesium-rich foods. This is because the American diet is lacking in whole grains, nuts and leafy greens -- all good sources of magnesium. Eating a well-balanced diet can help maintain healthy magnesium levels, preventing muscle soreness after a strenuous workout.
Sodium is another mineral that will cause muscle soreness once it's deficient. Right alongside potassium, sodium will leave your body as you perspire. This can cause you to feel wobbly and sore. During intense or prolonged exercise, a condition called hyponatremia, in which sodium levels in the blood drop, can occur. When you drink large amounts of water during intensive exercise, the level of sodium in your blood cannot keep up with the amount you’re losing through sweating, and the two become out of balance. Pace your drinking while exercising -- limit yourself to no more than 34 ounces of water per hour of exercise, says MayoClinic.com.
The National Institutes of Health states that more than 99 percent of your body's calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. That remaining 1 percent is floating about in your blood, in the fluid between cells and in your muscle tissues. Calcium is another mineral that, when low, can cause your muscles to be sore long after your workout. According to Frédéric Delavier and Michael Gundil, authors of "The Strength Training Anatomy Workout II," intense workouts damage muscle, causing calcium loss. Because this is bad for the tissue, within a day or two, your muscles become sore. Dairy products and green, leafy veggies are calcium-rich, so include them in your daily diet to help prevent deficiency.
- MedLine Plus: Muscle Aches
- The University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- MayoClinic.com: Hyponatremia
- MedLine Plus: Calcium
- The Strength Training Anatomy Workout II; Frédéric Delavier, Michael Gundill; 2012
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.