Whether you ran too hard, tried out your first TRX class, or woke up feeling unusually achy after a gym session, muscle soreness after working out is commonplace. While sore muscles are a sign that you're challenging your body, they can also put a damper on fitness goals. Here are seven ways to treat and prevent everyday soreness associated with working out.
- Massage: If you're looking to relax and pamper your sore muscles, treat yourself to a massage. Besides relieving overworked muscles, a massage boosts the body's immunity system. If you went big this week and your muscles are feeling tighter than usual, skip the aromatherapy for a trigger-point or sports massage instead. It will feel a little more intense, but it's worth the payoff.
- Foam Roller: Can't afford a massage? Go for the second best thing, and grab yourself a foam roller. The quick process of rolling out your body breaks up knots in muscles and is especially beneficial for trigger points like IT bands or shin-splint pain. Even better is that foam rolling helps to decrease future muscle pain and injury by keeping the body flexible and loose. Get started with these five stretches to do on a foam roller.
- Active rest: Sometimes the best thing you can do for an overworked body is to give it a break — a rest day now will prevent a more serious (and sidelining) sports injury later. But that doesn't mean you have to lay in bed all day! Light to moderate activity helps the body recover by bringing oxygen and nutrients to damaged muscles. Just make sure to lay off the part of your body that is feeling the stress. Check out these active ways to take care of your body on a rest day.
Learn four more ways to treat sore muscles after the break!
- Heat: Head to your gym's sauna, whirlpool, or hot tub and soothe sore muscles with a little heat therapy. (If you work out at a no-frills gym, there's always a hot shower waiting for you at home.) Applied heat increases blood flow to the muscles, helping to repair small tears and reduce recovery time. If you get sore a lot, consider doing heat therapy before exercise, to stimulate blood flow and increase flexibility in muscles, which will prevent you from being too sore later. Because applied heat raises body temps, avoid using when injuries appear inflamed.
- Ice: If you feel sore immediately after working out, or injured yourself and now have swollen muscles, ice is the way to go. Applying an ice pack will help reduce inflammation, bruising, and pain. Here are more tips on when to use ice therapy vs heat therapy on muscles.
- Stretch: One of the best ways to treat (and help prevent) muscle stiffness is to stretch right after a workout. A simple 10 minutes helps increase flexibility by lessening the shortening and tightening effect an intense workout has on the body's muscles. If you're still feeling sore from the previous day's workout, make sure to warm up the body before stretching; this will help prevent further pain or injury.
- Eat and Drink: So much of how we feel is connected to how we feed the body. Whether it's postworkout soreness or an injury, eat these foods shown to help decrease pain. A little coffee won't hurt either: a recent study shows coffee to be beneficial in decreasing muscle pain.