Do you ever get sore after an intense workout?
We’ve all felt it before and we’ll feel it again. Whether you’re a professional athlete or Joe from the Street… muscle soreness is the natural byproduct of an amazing workout. Many of us use post-workout soreness as an indicator that we did something right and the muscle soreness is proof that our body is making positive changes in the right direction, but none of us enjoys the pain that comes with sore muscles.
Unfortunately, sore muscles and the quality of our workout aren’t related. Getting sore usually just means that we either pushed ourselves too hard or we are trying new exercises and use our muscles in new ways. So if we switch things up on a regular basis, we will get sore more often and have to figure out how we can get rid of muscle soreness.
So what causes our muscles to be sore? In a nutshell, muscle soreness happens because the muscle fibers and connective tissues suffer a micro trauma. Don’t worry, it sounds dramatic, but it’s actually a completely natural process and occurs as a result of breaking down the muscle fibers when we lift weights or otherwise train strenuously.
These tiny tears in your muscles and connective tissue cause the pain you feel because of the low-level inflammation that happens when your body starts to repair them. The repair process can take several days and this is why it can sometimes take 24 to 48 hours for you to feel sore. Of course muscle soreness doesn’t last forever and will go away on its own eventually, however, if you don’t want to get sore in the first place or want to speed up the process, we have good news for you.
If you take the right steps after your workout, you can work out hard without having to pay the price afterwards. Here are our TOP 10 effective ways to ease muscle soreness.
#1 Keep Moving
Another workout might be the last thing you want to do when you are sore, but if you want to get rid of muscle soreness it’s a great idea to keep moving. Now, we are not suggesting to do another crazy workout. Just slowly and gently start to move again to get the blood flowing into those sore muscles to help aid the repair process with fresh, oxygenated blood. You will recover faster and can get to working out hard again quickly.
#2 Foam Roll
Foam rolling is essentially a deep tissue massage that you give yourself. Yes, I have to admit that it might be a little painful while you do it, but it really works. It releases the knots that you get in your muscles that cause the stiffness and pain. Just make sure that you learn how to do it right first. I still see people doing lots of interesting things with their foam rollers like rolling over their joints, which is a big no-no. If you want to learn how to use the foam roller correctly, check out our ‘FOAM ROLLING’ blog to get started. We really recommend foam rolling because it has been shown to alleviate muscle soreness and muscle fatigue and may even enhance your sports performance.
#3 Ice it
Top-level athletes swear by this one… Icing! Icing will keep the inflammation down, it will let you continue to move and at the same time it promotes healing. So the next time when you’re sore, give it a shot. Start icing your muscles right away after your workout when you feel like a major soreness is coming on. We always keep an icepack in the freezer, just in case… Icing is such a simple and safe option to speed up recovery without any side effects, so definitely something you wanna consider.
#4 Soak in Epsom Salt
Most of us have heard about our 4th hack, but very few actually do it… Soak in Epsom salt. Epsom salt is a natural stress reliever and can reduce inflammation and flush out toxins. The natural mineral compound is known for its ability to ease stress, reduce inflammation and flush out toxins from your body. Especially the magnesium in Epsom salt is a true powerhouse when we’re talking about muscle repair. Sure, you could take a supplement or try to increase your magnesium intake through food, but magnesium is best absorbed through the skin and who doesn’t love a long, hot soak in the tub. So get your Epsom salt, a candle or a good book, put on your favorite tunes and enjoy your time in the tub.
#5 Get a Massage
While foam rolling is an excellent way to ease muscle soreness and boost mobility, don’t limit yourself to it and get a massage if you have the time. A sports massage or deep-tissue massage after working out has been shown to increase nutrient-rich blood flow to your muscles and speed up the removal of inflammatory chemicals that are to blame for your soreness. J
ust make sure you let your massage therapist know where you feel particularly sore.
You can also give yourself a self-massage. Start by massaging the area above and below first and then work into the sore part of the muscle.
#6 Eat for Recovery
If you want to dial back on muscle soreness after an intense workout, make sure you eat the right foods like for example foods with omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, walnuts and avocado, because they reduce inflammation and come with natural anti-inflammatory properties. And let’s not forget, lean protein is crucial when we are talking about muscle repair. We need the amino acids of the protein to repair our muscle fibers. And just on the side, the best time to eat is right after your workout.
Mushroom Extract may be something you haven’t heard of before and its background is actually quite a funny story.
Chinese goat herders noticed that their goats were much preppier after eating a certain type of mushroom, so they thought they’d do what their furry friends did and ate some of those mushrooms, too. After a slew of research and lab experiments it has been found that mushrooms work because they activate the energy powerhouse ATP in your cells, which results in clean energy without having to resort to artificial stimulants. Give cordyceps mushrooms a try and let us know if you get the same effect.
Jalapeños and other hot peppers like cayenne pepper are know to relieve muscle, joint and arthritis pain as well as general muscle soreness due to its active ingredient capsaicin. While you can get over-the-counter remedies that contain capsaicin, you can easily make your own soreness relieving cream. Just add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to a cup of warm coconut oil and rub it on your sore muscles. Just make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and stay clear from your eyes, mouth and nose because it will cause irritation.
Another great idea of food for recovery is cinnamon.
Cinnamon is like a natural ibuprofen. It has been shown to have analgesic effects on achy, stiff and sore muscles and you don’t need much, a teaspoon gives you all the benefits.
Sprinkle some cinnamon on your morning coffee or oatmeal or add it to your smoothie and you are good to go.
#7 Drink for Recovery
Just like you want to watch what you eat, you want to pay attention to what you drink. First — try tart cherry juice — if you like the taste. It’s probably one of the most well-known post-workout drinks to get rid of muscle soreness. Tart c
herries are rich in antioxidants and can significantly reduce muscle damage and pain after an intense workout session. Especially the antioxidant compounds found in tart cherries called anthocyanin are believed to be beneficial because they reduce inflammation.
Coffee is another option to reduce muscle soreness. Caffeine can actually cut muscle pain in half. And of course, you want to stay hydrated, that’s a given because dehydration can make your muscle soreness even worse, so drink plenty of water.
The best defense after a strong workout is stretching. When you work out, you contract your muscles and the muscle fibers shorten. Stretching will lengthen them after your work out and promote mobility, which can lead to a much more thorough recovery. While fitness experts still argue whether or not stretching has an impact on muscle soreness, it certainly won’t hurt to stretch out your muscles, especially when you have limited flexibility.
#9 Essential Oils
Essential oils are a great natural remedy to relieve muscle pain and give your sore muscles some TLC. For example mix lemongrass essential oil with marjoram and peppermint if you have cramps. For spasms we recommend chamomile, basil or marjoram essential oils and to relieve tension, chamomile, peppermint, lavender, and marjoram have been found to be very effective. Add a drop or two of the essential oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil like coconut oil and rub it into the affected area.
#10 Try Acupuncture
There have been studies that show that acupuncture can be effective in reducing muscle soreness as it affects the sensitized pain receptors and therefore decreases the brain’s message of pain. As a result you lower the sensation of pain in your muscles. While acupuncture may be a little out there for just regular soreness after a strong workout, it may be worth the investment if you are training for a competition or are an athlete who has to be able to perform.
Even though most people accept delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) as a valuable indicator of having worked hard and assume that the pain of the soreness means that they are getting stronger and build muscle you don’t have to suffer through the pain. While there are many more options to deal with muscle soreness, try some of these effective treatments and see if they can help you ease some of the pain.
FAST-TRACK YOUR RECOVERY
Joschi & Monika
Joschi & Monika