How to Relieve Soreness After a Workout

Muscle soreness after a workout can be challenging. What’s the best way to relieve post-workout soreness and prevent it from occurring in the future?

So, you finally made the decision to join the health club. Full of exuberance, good intentions, and high hopes of sculpting the firm, toned body of your dreams, you pushed yourself to the limit. Now, you’re paying for it. Every muscle in your body aches and the thought of hitting those exercise machines sounds about as appealing as running your fingernails across a chalkboard. Is there anything you can do to relieve soreness after a workout and prevent it in the future?

What Causes Soreness after a Workout?
When you work unconditioned muscles using resistance, the muscles are stretched which causes small, microscopic tears to form. These small tears will eventually be repaired and the muscles will become stronger and better toned. In the meantime, the overworked muscles become inflamed and swollen which leads to soreness pain. Soreness after a workout, sometimes called delayed onset muscle soreness, usually appears within twelve to forty-eight hours after strenuous exercise and can last up to a week.

Should You Continue to Exercise?
With this type of delayed onset muscle soreness, it’s tempting to move around as little as possible, but this isn’t advisable. Muscles that are sore can quickly become stiff when held in one place for too long. It’s best to avoid strenuous activity, but light stretching, or a yoga class can help to reduce stiffness and make the post-workout soreness feel better.

How Do You Treat Soreness After a Workout?
One effective treatment is to relax in a warm bath to which you’ve added cup of Epsom salts. The magnesium in the Epsom salts helps to reduce swelling and relax sore muscles naturally; and the feeling of stretching out in the warm bath water can be soothing and relaxing. Another natural strategy to relieve soreness after a workout is massage. A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training showed that massage therapy reduced delayed onset muscle soreness. Plus, it’s a great stress reliever.

What about Medications?
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications help with the pain and inflammation, but if you prefer the natural route, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that tart cherry juice can reduce pain and soreness after a workout. Tart cherries inhibit Cox-1 and Cox-2 enzymes, enzymes associated with inflammation, in much the same way as prescription NSAIDs without the stomach upset.

How Can You Prevent Soreness After a Workout?
To avoid feeling like a Mack truck ran over you in the future, don’t do too much exercise too quickly. Muscles need time to adapt to the stress of a workout. It’s okay to workout hard, but work up to it gradually. Keep in mind that a fit, toned body is never built in a day. Take a slowly and do it without injury.

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