Get Rid of Muscle Pain and Soreness Now with these Science Based Tips – The Complete Guide to Post Workout Recovery

When people say “You’re gonna feel that in the morning,” it’s meant literally.

Muscle soreness is an irritating, often painful, effect of working out.

Man stretching before running on a track and working out.
No pain, no gain right? -Photo by Alora Griffiths

Luckily, some things can be done to reduce the aftermath, or even prevent it altogether!

Read all about the causes, remedies, and prevention tips for muscle soreness and pain below!

What Causes Muscle Soreness

Since you took the time to work out, for increased physical fitness and wellbeing, why does your body punish you with pain?

Muscle soreness, also called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is an indication of microscopic tears in the muscle tissue.

When this occurs, the body triggers inflammation at the site, accumulating fluids in the muscle, making them feel tight and painful.

Small doses of inflammation are normal in the body, as this is just an indication to repair and grow the muscles stronger.

This will usually occur 12 to 24 hours after working out.

Any new workout, or increase in workout intensity, has the potential to cause soreness, as your body gets used to the increased physical demand.

5 Best Ways to Get Rid of Sore Muscles

Here are science-based tricks to reduce muscle pain and soreness post-workout!

Apply Cold and Hot Temperatures

Many swear by the idea that we should ‘take an ice bath, that’ll soothe the muscles right up.’

While some studies have shown that ice baths can help reduce swelling, we don’t have to jump to that extreme.

Alternating between heating pads (to increase blood flow) and ice packs (to reduce inflammation) has been found by studies to be the most beneficial post-workout combination. 

Not only will soreness reduce, but healing also improves, and tissue damage is prevented. 

Use a Foam Roller

Foam rollers may sometimes feel worse than the ache, but they can help reduce swelling and increase blood flow to the muscles.

This increases healing of the body and reduces pain in the muscles.

Massage Sore Spots

Similar to the idea behind a foam roller, post-exercise massages can reduce inflammation and increase mitochondrial efficiency.

This in turn promotes repair and healing activity in the body and reduces muscle pain and soreness.

Eat Well in the Next 24 Hours

Studies have found that the food you eat after a workout is vital to the recovery of the body.

Increase your protein intake and add antioxidant-rich foods, like dark green vegetables, to your diet in the hours after your workout.

Some fruits, such as pomegranates, are also loaded with antioxidants than can be beneficial in improving recovery.

Meals full of protein, vitamins, and antioxidants will speed up muscle repair in no time!

Get Moving More

Though it may sound counterintuitive, some activity in the 24 hours after a workout can actually help the body reduce soreness and pain.

This is done by increasing blood flow through the muscles, flushing out the fluids that cause soreness and inflammation.

The activity should be much less intense, such as walking, swimming, or biking.

Woman stretching hands up to the sky before a workout.
Pre-workout routines matter just as much – Photo by Christopher Campbell

How to Prevent Sore Muscles

There are steps you can take to prevent, or at least reduce, muscle soreness after a workout!

Take it Slow

Soreness is caused by an increase in the intensity of workout activity. Prevent soreness by gradually increasing workout intensity.

This can help reduce pain and aches. If running, increase distance or speed gradually.

If working with weights, slowly build up to a heavier load.

Always give the body time to rest between intense workouts, and try alternating different parts of the body on different days.

Remember to get a good night’s rest and sleep, essential in the recovery of the body.

Warm-Up Before Working out

Make a warm-up a part of your workout routine.

This can help prevent muscle soreness and pain caused by injury of the muscle tissue.

Doing light cardio and stretching beforehand will prevent muscle damage or overstretching in the upcoming intense activity.

Stay Hydrated During a Workout

Hydration is incredibly important in working out. 

Water can help reduce inflammation by flushing fluids through the body and helping the muscles get the nutrients they need. 

Cool Down After a Workout 

Studies have found that a decrease in intensity, or cool-down period, at the end of a workout can increase blood flow.

This can potentially reducing lactate, a byproduct that causes soreness with will reduce pain and aches felt after an intense workout.

Wear Compression Gear 

Studies have found that compression gear looks cool can reduce sore muscles by constricting and preventing post-workout fluid buildup.

It can also increase blood flow to help flush out the muscle of creatine kinase, an enzyme that causes soreness. 

The Takeaway

Muscle soreness is an inevitable part of working out, though it can be reduced with proper pre and post-workout routines.

Some soreness is good, as it is an indication of growth and muscle stimulation.

Make sure you are eating a healthy diet, hydrating properly, and giving your body a chance to rest and recover after any intense activity.

Remember, health starts from within!

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