Happy New Year! Hope you all got some rest because I’m sure most of you have fitness or health goals for 2020, and the only way to get there is with consistency and hard work! With that hard work is undoubtedly going to be some muscle soreness. I often get asked about what people can do when they’re feeling sore from their workouts. Sadly, there’s no instant cure for sore muscles, but the good news is that there are some things that you can try out to either alleviate the pain or help your muscles recover faster.
First and foremost, and one of the most basic things that everyone should be doing is making sure they’re properly hydrated. In fact, do that when you’re sore and when you’re not sore. I cannot emphasize that enough. Also make sure that you have enough protein in your diet because that’s what helps you build and maintain muscle.
If your aim is to reduce inflammation, I recommend taking Ibuprofen and icing for 20 minutes or less at a time. Unless there’s some problematic swelling that’s not common with typical muscle soreness, icing mostly manages comfort. Heating, on the other hand, can help with blood flow, so it might help you heal up faster (but don’t heat right after the workout).
It’s also why I recommend Epsom salt baths. Epsom salt can be found at most drugstores and grocery stores. Supposedly, it’s a good way for your body to absorb magnesium, which is the main health benefit from the Epsom salt. There’s not a lot of scientific proof about the effects of Epsom salt, but taking a hot bath in general is good for muscle soreness.
Foam rollers, lacrosse balls, or if you’re really feeling like treating yourself, massages…are good for muscle relief. It helps to increase circulation, break down the build-up of fluids in your muscles after a strenuous workout, and relieve muscle tension. I recommend massages for people who are experiencing muscle tightness. It’ll loosen you up, helping to increase your range of motion in the process.
Another piece of advice is to keep exercising or at least keep moving your body, even if you experience some discomfort from the soreness. Moving around will help with blood flow, which is really the most important part about getting your muscles to recover. If you’ve ever had to sit down in one place for hours while being sore, then you’ve notice the tightness/stiffness of your body when you get back up. You might even feel worse if you’ve been still for long enough.
And of course, get rest. Rest time is recovery time, so get good quality sleep to help recover faster. Be mindful of your workouts—start with some dynamic stretches to warm up your body before a workout, make sure you’re using proper form during exercise, etc. Remember: As much as soreness can be a pain, it shows that you’ve pushed yourself or done something new, which is always a good sign.