Coping with Muscle Soreness

One of the biggest fears people have when it comes to working out is the muscle soreness that comes with it. No one likes waking up feeling like their arms and legs weigh as much as an elephant.

But, this delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is actually a good thing. In order for your muscles to grow, they need to tear. As people exercise, their muscles experience small tears, followed by inflammation.

That inflammation is the cause of muscle soreness. Fortunately, this pain only lasts for around 1-3 days, and there are ways to cope with it.

Today’s blog is all about handling DOMS. Try out these easy remedies that people use to alleviate body tension and increase their range of motion, even after a grueling workout.

 

Ice

The old-school antidote for soreness: ice.

By restricting blood flow to sore regions of the body, ice can numb your soreness if applied properly.

Try icing in 20-minute intervals every 4 to 6 hours. Make sure your ice pack or freezer bag is wrapped in a towel so that you don’t give yourself frostbite.

If your muscles begin to spasm or your back hurts, try something besides ice, as ice won’t help lower your pain in those situations.

 

Heat

Alternating ice with heat is optimal for treating soreness.

Heat will loosen up your muscles and increase blood flow to the sore regions of the body. This will prime your body for the next round of ice, which will inversely prepare your body for another heating session.

One simple way to loosen the muscles after a hard workout is to take a hot shower. You’ll feel refreshed and less tight in the areas you just worked out.

Another easy method to employ is to heat pads. Some pads will automatically simulate heat by rubbing them, but you might find better results if you stick the pad in the microwave for about 45 seconds. If you heat in 20-minute intervals, you’ll be on the way to a quick recovery.

 

Massages

Who doesn’t love a nice, relaxing massage?

Massages can help loosen the stress in your neck and back. While that might not fully rid you of soreness, it can bring you to more tranquil state overall.

Have someone massage those tight areas, but make sure they don’t overdo it. Only light massages have been proven to reduce the symptoms of soreness.

 

Medications

Soreness can also be relieved by over-the-counter medication.

It’s worth noting that medicine shouldn’t be abused. But when used in unison with the rest of these methods, it can help control your body’s rapid inflammation after a workout.

Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are all great options. Try using these in combination with a meal and water so that they circulate in your bloodstream faster.

 

Acupressure

First off… what in the world is acupressure?

Acupressure is like a mix between massage and acupuncture. Instead of sticking needles around the sensitive locales of your body, you use your fingers to push on those areas.

Have someone help you out with this. It will put your body at ease and can improve blood flow throughout your body. Make sure you take time to find the tender points around your body, such as around the neck, back and arms, so that you know exactly where to apply pressure to.

 

Exercise

Exercise has both short-term and long-term benefits to alleviating soreness.

In the short-term, continuing to work your muscles is a helpful way of decreasing soreness. You’ll be stretching out those muscles, thus keeping them from stiffening up.

However, overtraining –especially in areas of the body that are still sore – can cause ruptures in the muscles. Whatever you do, do it with caution.

Consistent exercise long-term will decrease the effects of DOMS. Your body will get more used to the strain of exercise, allowing you to push yourself even harder than before. Be wary, though, because falling off a consistent workout schedule will let DOMS settle back into the body.

 

Foam Rollers

Immediately after a workout, foam rollers can break up the tension in your body.

Get a foam roller, then lay out on the floor. Slowly roll your arms, legs, back, and torso over the foam roller, especially over the areas of the body you just worked out.

When you feel a particular tightness or pain, stop, and then focus on rolling out that one area. Again, make sure not to rush, or you won’t feel as loose and relaxed as you should.

 

Watermelon Juice

This one probably sounds a tad weird. But, watermelon juice has been linked to helping decrease muscle soreness.

Try drinking a few cups per day. While it may or may not work for you, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. However, make sure you still drink plenty of water, the most important drink for hydration and health.

We wouldn’t recommend using watermelon juice as your primary recovery method. While some people have seen benefits from drinking it, it hasn’t been fully confirmed as a reputable treatment for soreness.

 

Stretching

Stretching after a grueling workout can also keep your muscles from stiffening up.

The stretches you do will vary based on the workouts you just completed. Try stretching until you feel a slight burn, then stop.

Remember that static stretching (such as touching your toes, pulling your arm across your chest, etc.) is best for after a workout. Dynamic stretching (such as lunges, shuffles, sprints, etc.) are better to warm up for a workout, but doing these stretches after exercising can overwork the body.

Again, with any of these methods, the goal is never to push yourself too far. You already worked out; why try and strain the body further than it needs to be strained.

 

Note: People generally experience DOMS strongest after their first few workouts, especially if they haven’t worked out in a long time. If you continually feel sore after workouts, you might want to make sure your training routine isn’t too rigorous.

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