Yesterday you did a serious workout, and now you are feeling the burn. That’s a good sign. You worked hard enough to create some small tears in your muscle fiber. Most likely, you have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is the technical term for muscle pain after a workout. Delayed onset muscle soreness usually occurs when you try a new activity, increase your routine workout intensity, frequency, or length, or when you try a new sport.
Muscle soreness can happen to anyone, regardless of their physical fitness. Chances are you won’t leap out of bed to go running when it hurts to walk. But do you stop exercising because of delayed onset muscle soreness? You don’t. Time is the best way to remedy DOMS – they disappear eventually. However, there are specific measures you can take to relieve pain and soreness after exercise. They include:
It may be a struggle to get off your sofa when muscles are sore. But the truth is, moving helps you to feel better. Do light and gentle exercises. Taking a day or two off gives your body time to recover, but it will only get tougher the day you exercise again. The fact that you are experiencing muscle pain after an intense workout is a sign that your muscles are getting stronger. Light activities such as swimming or walking help to speed up the elimination of lactic acid buildup.
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Eat and drink properly
Proper nutrition after a workout can help your body to recover faster. When exercising, your body uses up glycogen stores for energy. As a result, your muscles are partially depleted of glycogen. Also, some of the proteins in your muscles are broken down and damaged.
Your body needs to rebuild the glycogen stores and repair the damaged proteins. You can help do this quickly by eating the right food soon after a workout. Carbs and proteins are particularly crucial after a workout. It helps the body:
- Reduce muscle protein breakdown
- Improve muscle protein growth
- Rebuild glycogen stores
- Boost recovery
Even the most experienced athletes experience muscle protein breakdown. Eating a sufficient amount of proteins soon after workout supplies your body with enough amino acids to repair and rebuild muscle proteins. Protein also contains the necessary building blocks to build new muscle tissue.
Carbs, on the other hand, helps your body with recovery after workouts. During workouts, your body uses glycogen stores for fuel. Eating carbs soon after workouts helps to replenish them.
The amount of glycogen used depends on the type of activity. For example, resistance training causes your body to use much less glycogen compared to endurance sports such as running and swimming. Therefore, if you participate in endurance sports, you may need to eat more carbs after workouts. The bottom line: Eating carbs and proteins after workouts help with muscle recovery.
If your muscles still ache two days after exercise, apply heat carefully. Heat stimulates blood flow, which helps to ease tightness. Use a heating pad or a warm towel. But you need to be careful. Using too much heat can cause burns or inflame the muscles further.
Use an ice pack
There is an ongoing debate between heat therapy and cold therapy, and probably it will never end. However, what really matters is what feels better for you. The effects of both methods are mostly temporary. But for extreme soreness and pain, any form of relief is worth it (as long as it is safe).
Ice is particularly useful in the case of swollen muscles or acute injury. Ice helps to reduce swelling, which in turn helps to reduce some pain-causing tension.
Get a rubdown
A sports or trigger-point massage helps to boost blood flow, relieve muscle tension, and improve the motion range in your joints. A massage is also a great way to lift your moods.
When your muscles are aching, a tender massage is best. Go for a massage that uses light pressure, such as Swedish massage. It is better for muscle recovery than deep tissue massage. Alternatively, you can try a tender-point massage – a massage therapist exerts pressure and holds it directly on the sore areas.
Try foam rolling
No, you don’t have to be an elite athlete to use foam rolling to relieve muscle soreness. A foam roller helps to identify sore parts, then alleviate pain through pressure. By applying pressure on the tender areas, a foam roller helps to reduce tightness and tension in muscles after an intense workout. It provides a soothing effect on your muscles. Foam rolling also helps to increase your range of motion and prevent injury.
Take a warm bath.
A warm bath helps to tighten sore muscles and enhance blood circulation, which offers temporary relief.
Take a power nap
A short nap, say 15-30 minutes after pushing your body hard, helps to restore your energy. A recovery nap makes your body enter a restorative state. It is a great way to recover and alleviate muscle soreness after intense workouts.
The next time you exercise, head home, and take a 30-minutes power nap – relax on your couch, snooze for 30 minutes, or listen to a meditation recording before taking a post-workout meal.
Exercise is great for your mental and physical health. And you must maintain an active lifestyle. Too much exercise, however, can harm your body. The above methods will help you relieve muscle pain after exercise, so you stay happy and keep on working out.