26 Feb 8 Tips for Relieving Muscle Soreness
Workouts should feel good.
Don’t let that sweet endorphin rush get masked by post-exercise aches.
People often use this soreness as an excuse to skip a workout, thereby delaying the amount of time it takes for the body to adjust to a routine. Rather than withdrawing with a defeatist attitude, learn to love that burning sensation. Use that tightness to motivate you to work even harder. Say to yourself, “Look at me. I kicked some major ass on that workout. I really want to do that again.” The pain you feel every time you sit down indicates that your muscles are getting stronger and more suited for the types of exercise that you wish to master. Use the feeling as reassurance that you’re doing your body some good.
If you feel stiff later that evening or the next morning, don’t take a day off on the couch. Stick to your exercise regimen, but lower the intensity level if your muscles need rest. You can also switch it up and sign up for a yoga or Zumba class if you need a break from the cardio machine. There is a wide range of exercises to choose from that burns calories and provides the same health benefits you need, but by utilizing different parts of the muscle. Sometimes, you might not even be in the mood for a traditional gym workout, but thankfully, there are other ways of exercising that you may want to make use of instead of going to the gym. For example, you might want to start taking up something like tennis lessons, as this can be a refreshing, new way to get exercise instead of finding yourself stuck in the gym every single day. Playing a sport like tennis can also be a good way to meet new people and develop skills that you never knew you had.
However, there is a distinction between soreness and pain. If you have trouble walking or notice any sharp joint pains, especially in your knees and ankles, schedule a doctor’s appointment and rest. Sometimes jumping into a new exercise can be overwhelming and result in a tear or injury of some kind. Don’t be alarmed—just take immediate action.
Here are my 10 tips for easing the pain:
- Invest in a Massage Roller: Massage and foam rollers are great at loosening up tight muscles to mitigate next-day pain. I rub my legs and glutes for about ten to fifteen minutes after every workout, and if I feel sore a few hours later, I’ll do it again right before bed. Another option is to draw a hot bath and massage your muscles in the water (a massage roller may be better than a foam roller, merely for size and stretching ability).
- Drink Wisely: Coconut water, beet juice, tart cherry juice, a protein shake made of nut butter, hemp or chia seeds, green tea and water are all great picks for healthy sips. Coconut water restores your electrolyte balance and potassium stores post-workout. Beet juice has been found to impact both endurance levels and recovery time in athletes. Sipping a juice or smoothie consisting of beets, coconuts, leafy greens and chia seeds would be an excellent choice, as chia seeds are high in omega-3’s, fatty acids that have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.
- Spice Things Up: Many herbs and spices are touted for their anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. These include: onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Sprinkle them onto veggies, lean meats and fish or throw some fresh minced ginger into a blender for a post-workout smoothie. You can also purchase them in supplement form from local health stores, but use them in your cooking for maximum benefits.
- Stretch It Out: Growing up in NYC, I completely understand: life is hectic. It’s rare to find a moment to just “chill out.” Squeezing in a workout can be stressful enough; most people jump off the machines or run out of class to open a pack of face wipes and throw on some clothes before their next meeting. A shower and thorough stretch will have to wait. Unfortunately, we often forget hours later (the stretching part, of course). Stretching should be performed when muscles are still warm, as to prevent injury, and the one-minute stretch that classes save for the end barely does the job. Take a few moments and stretch on your own. If you simply don’t have time, do a few jumping jacks later that evening to warm up and then stretch it out for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Pack In Protein: Consuming a mixture of carbohydrates and protein after a tough sweat session will give your muscles the fuel it needs to repair. Personally, I love Quest Bars. With roughly 160-210 calories, 3g net carbs, 21g of protein and tons of dietary fiber, the taste is flavorful and the consistency is thick enough to fill me up for hours (my favorites are the Double Chocolate Chunk and Peanut Butter Supreme). Other options include a tbsp. of nut butter on an apple and a few slices of lean, low-sodium turkey breast on crackers.
- Get A Little Fishy: The omega-3’s in fish oil supplements lower inflammation and ease joint pain in those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disorders and plain old muscle fatigue. A study conducted at Indiana University on February 24, 2015 claims that taking an omega-3 PCSO-524 supplement pre-exercise will lessen post-exercise soreness (Science Daily). Any type of omega-3 fish oil or cod liver oil will do the trick.
- Play with Temperatures: If you see any bruising or inflammation, apply an ice pack to the area for about twenty minutes. If you merely feel tightness, soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts to relax your muscles.
- DIY Lotion: Mix coconut oil or olive oil with essential oils, such as peppermint, lavender or chamomile and knead the concoction into your muscles. Not only is the smell and motion relaxing, but also the oils may loosen the tension.
Whatever you do, stay optimistic and hungry for more! Each day of soreness represents one step closer towards achieving your health & fitness goals.