Muscle soreness usually occurs after you use a muscle in a way it’s not used to — such as when starting a new exercise routine or increasing the intensity of your workout. But there are ways to ease sore muscles and get back to your fitness goals,and you need to know how to relieve sore muscles after a workout.
Heat, such as a warm bath or a heating pad, increases blood flow to soothe tight muscles. So does a massage, especially a trigger-point therapy.
A good workout can cause achy muscles. This soreness occurs because of microscopic tears in the muscles, and it’s a sign that your body has adapted to the new activity or level of exercise you were doing. It’s also a great way to know that you pushed yourself hard.
To prevent soreness, start your routine with a light warm-up. This should include movement that sightly elevates your heart rate, and helps you work up a light sweat (to give you that healthy glow). A good warm-up may include walking, jogging on the spot, high knees, hopping or cycling. Then, stretch the muscles you’ll be working out. Harrast recommends dynamic stretches, which involve moving the muscle instead of holding static positions for extended periods.
Avoid exercises that will put strain on the muscles, like pushing off or pulling with your legs. This type of exercise can cause muscle damage, and could lead to an injury. If you are experiencing severe pain, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Whether you’re new to exercise or have been working out regularly for years, muscle soreness is inevitable. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be painful and can actually benefit you in the long run.
Stretching, especially static stretches (holding a pose for 10-60 seconds) in addition to dynamic stretches, can help to minimize soreness after workouts. They help to gradually slow down your body, reduce the risk of injury and relax tired muscles that are tense or constricted from the exertion.
It’s important to always follow a stretching routine with caution. Never push yourself past a point where you feel pain; instead, aim for mild tension in the muscles, New York fitness trainer and physical therapist Laura Miranda, D.P.T., tells SELF. Hydrating is also important, as water eases inflammation and delivers nutrients to the muscles while flushing out waste products. You can tell if you’re dehydrated by the color of your urine; pale yellow means you’re hydrated, and darker colors indicate that you’re not.
Massage increases blood flow to sore muscles and helps them loosen and lengthen, speeding up recovery. It also releases any accidental clots or blockages that may have occurred during exercise. In addition, it reduces muscle tightness and enables them to function more effectively in the future. Follow a post-workout massage with some gentle static stretching to promote flexibility and a full range of motion in the sore muscles. Hydration is essential for easing muscle soreness as well; dehydration can lead to more pain, and flushing out the toxins released during a massage can help with recovery.
It’s best to ease into a new workout, or increase your intensity gradually over the course of several days, to avoid soreness. A cold shower or bath, hot water bottles or a soak in an Epsom salt bath can all help reduce soreness by increasing blood flow to the muscles. Some over-the-counter pain relievers can be helpful, but it’s best to avoid taking NSAIDs for muscle soreness unless you have a serious injury or infection.
The last thing you want to do after finishing a workout is jumping in the shower or collapsing on the couch, but cooling down before removing your sweaty clothes is a vital part of any exercise routine. Cooling down speeds up recovery by lowering the heart rate and clearing out byproducts of exercise, such as lactic acid, from the muscles.
The cooldown also gives you the opportunity to home in on some mobility exercises or stretches, which are better done while the muscles are warm. For example, you might want to do a few slow, stretches while holding the bottom position of your squat or a light walk and stretching.
If you don’t have access to a massage therapist, try icing your sore muscles for 20-30 minutes after exercise to decrease inflammation and ease discomfort. Just make sure you place a towel between the ice and your skin to prevent burns. Then, drink plenty of fluids to hydrate.