You're asking and I'm answering . . .
When I have a tough workout at the gym or an intense bike ride, my muscles are so tight and sore. I love to get into a hot shower to relieve my pain, but I read somewhere that heat can make the pain worse. Is this true? Should I take a cool shower instead?
— Sore Savannah
Ahh the age-old question about whether to use heat and ice, that confounds many fitness fanatics. To see what I have to say about this issue
If you have an injury, like a pulled muscle or a sprained ankle, ice is needed to reduce swelling. However, sore muscles indicate that you have microscopic tears in the fibers. This is normal and means you challenged your muscles. Yay! As the fibers heal they become stronger, making you stronger. When you heat your muscles either with a hot bath, heating pad, or warm compress, it helps to bring blood to the area, which aids in healing. So go ahead and step into your steamy shower after a workout. Massage will also soothe your tight muscles, so it's a great excuse to make an appointment for a little pampering. The next day or two, if you're still sore, do some low-impact exercise, or work other muscle groups — the circulation will ease your discomfort.