If you’ve done even just one workout, you’ve almost certainly experienced those accompanying sore muscles that can often hold us back from getting a good sweat sesh in the following day.
Soreness can occur during a workout but often feels the worst the next day or even two days later. Both these immediate and delayed onset types of soreness are a normal part of working out since the fibers of our muscles actually contract tiny tears during our workout. This is a good thing, because as our muscles rebuild, and they come back stronger each time.
While some soreness here and there is to be expected, here are a few tips you can use to help your body recover better and with less pain!
Here’s How to Prevent and Treat Sore Muscles
#1 Stretch (a specific way)
You’ve probably heard by now stretching is crucial, and the best way to do it is before the workout begins, according to research. And instead of doing slow, sustained stretching, opt for dynamic stretching to get the blood moving—we’re talking pulsing squats, walking lunges, and even some good old arm circles.
#2 Wear Compression Garments
Many workout leggings come in a compression fit, and not only does this “hold everything in” for a flattering fit, it actually helps to increase blood flow, which can assist in the recovery of those tired muscles. If you need an excuse to shop for new workout gear, this is it!
There’s just no getting around the fact that sleep is everything. Not only does it keep you from dragging the next day, your muscles require plenty of it (7-9 hours) for recovery since this is when muscle fibers undergo rebuilding.
#4 Foam Roll It
Foam rollers are a great way to massage yourself and remove inflammation and toxins from the muscles. You can snag one to use as a relaxing post-workout treat for your body (or if you don’t want to spend the money, you can roll a tennis ball over the muscles too!)
Treating yourself to a professional massage always makes for a great reward for staying consistent with your workout routine!
#5 Keep Hydrated
Yet another reason your water bottle should be basically attached to you at all times—water promotes muscle recovery, so stay hydrated during the day and also sip water during your workout.
#6 Don’t Stop Moving
We know it’s tempting to take a rest day when you’re achy all over from yesterday’s workout, but lounging on the couch will just make things worse. If you’re crazy sore, you can do a lower impact workout like Pilates or yoga, but keep yourself moving.
As your body adjusts to working out regularly, this debilitating soreness will become less intense, we promise.
#7 Stay Fueled Up
Once your workout ends, your body starts the process of rebuilding and repairing your taxed muscles, so it’s critical to get in a good post-workout snack.
Choose a combo of healthy carbs and protein like a fruity protein shake, a piece of fruit and yogurt, or some tofu and rice—just get some healthy fuel in! (It’s also a good idea to have carbohydrates before your workout, too!)
#8 Alternate Heat and Cold
Immediately after a workout, applying heat can be helpful in reducing soreness the next day. A warm bath (add Epsom salts for extra recovery benefits) or sitting in a sauna or steam room are great options. Then, switch to ice later on for specifically sore areas (use an ice pack if you need) or take a plunge into an ice bath to reduce inflammation in the entire body.
#9 Use Natural Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Mother Nature provides lots of the best medicines, including powerful anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, pineapple, and cherry juice, all of which are a great in a post workout smoothie to help reduce muscle soreness.
#10 Don’t Freak Out About Soreness
Remember, if working out was easy and always painless, everyone would do it!
While you should always listen to your body and stop what you’re doing if a particular workout or if a specific move doesn’t feel right, expect some soreness—and yes, walking down stairs and getting dressed should be a challenge after a tough leg day, especially if it’s your first in a while!
Take Control of Your Muscle Soreness to Keep Your Fitness Goals Moving Forward
Using the above tips can help alleviate some of that nagging soreness. However, even the most conditioned athlete feels achy after a tough sweat session, particularly if it works an area you’re not used to working or includes a new-to-you move.
Keep going and remember, you’re getting stronger each day!