What Helps Sore Muscles After Workout: Prevention and Relief Strategies

May 7, 2024 in Personal Training

What Helps Sore Muscles After Workout: Prevention and Relief Strategies

what helps sore muscles after workout

We’ve all been there after a workout, begging the question of what helps sore muscles after a workout. Thankfully, we have an answer for you.

Experiencing muscle soreness after training is common, especially if you are adjusting your exercise intensity or trying new activities. Let’s get right into the essential methods for relieving sore muscles, from prevention to post-workout recovery.

Why Do Our Muscles Get Sore?

Muscle soreness after exercise, known as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), occurs due to the micro-tearing of muscle fibers during intense or unfamiliar physical activity. Micro-tearing initiates an inflammatory response for repairing the damaged tissue, which leads to the tightness and discomfort experienced as DOMS. 

This soreness typically begins 12 to 24 hours after exercising. It’s particularly prevalent following workouts that involve eccentric movements—where muscles lengthen under tension, such as walking downhill or during the lowering phase of a biceps curl. These activities cause more muscle damage because fewer muscle fibers are being used to manage the strain, intensifying the soreness. Understanding this process helps recognize muscle soreness as a natural part of strength development and recovery.

Preventing Sore Muscles

It’s always best to try and prevent sore muscles from happening whenever possible. Here are a few ways you can prevent sore muscles from ever forming.

Start With a Proper Warm-Up

Preventing sore muscles begins before your workout. Activating your muscles through a dynamic warm-up will increase blood flow and help to reduce the chance of soreness setting in.

Consider incorporating gentle stretches and light movements similar to the exercises you’ll perform in your workout.

Gradual Progression

Increasing your workout intensity gradually is crucial. Sudden increases in activity can lead to excessive muscle strain and soreness. Whether you’re lifting weights or running, increase the intensity at a slow pace over time to give your muscles a chance to adapt without becoming overwhelmed.

Hydration and Nutrition

Hydration and nutrition are key to preventing sore muscles. 

Adequate hydration assists in regulating the body’s temperature and lubricates the joints, while the proper nutrients help repair and replenish muscle tissue.

Proper Exercise Technique

Using correct form during exercises is essential to prevent undue stress and strain on your muscles, which can lead to soreness. Performing exercises incorrectly is like a double-edged sword, increasing the risk of injury and making your workouts less effective.

If you’re unsure about your technique, consider consulting a personal trainer or watching instructional videos from reputable sources. Personal trainers give real-time feedback and tips to ensure you’re performing exercises correctly and safely, which can significantly reduce your risk of soreness.

Appropriate Equipment and Footwear

The right equipment and footwear can significantly reduce the risk of sore muscles. For example, wearing supportive shoes that match your activity type can reduce the impact on your muscles and joints, which in turn helps prevent soreness.

Similarly, using equipment that’s suited to your fitness level and body size, such as adjustable resistance machines or appropriate free weight sizes, ensures that you are not overexerting specific muscles. This tailored approach helps you engage the correct muscle groups and avoid unnecessary strain.

What Helps Sore Muscles After A Workout?

Sometimes, even with all the best prevention measures, you still have sore muscles. Try these tips to help relieve aching muscles after your exercises.

Light Exercise and Active Recovery

While it might seem counterintuitive, light physical activity can be beneficial for sore muscles after a workout. Activities like walking, gentle stretching, or yoga improve circulation, helping to flush out toxins and ease muscle tightness.

Cold and Heat Therapy

For immediate relief, cold therapy can reduce inflammation and numb sharp pain. Try applying a cold pack for fifteen minutes after a workout to help decrease swelling. 

After 48 hours, switch to heat therapy which improves the blood flow to your sore muscles for better healing.

Massage and Foam Rolling

foam rolling for sore muscles

A gentle massage or foam rolling can alleviate tight muscles by breaking up knots and increasing blood flow to the affected areas. This not only helps to relieve pain but also accelerates the recovery process by enhancing nutrient and oxygen delivery to the sore muscles.

Rest and Recovery

Get adequate rest to allow your muscles time to repair. This includes quality sleep, vital for muscle recovery, and ensuring rest days are part of your workout regimen. On these days, focus on different muscle groups or engage in very light activity to keep muscles active without additional strain.

Supplementation and Nutrition

After intense workouts, your body needs the right nutrients to give your body the fuel it needs to repair muscle tears and refill energy stores. Incorporating a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats into your diet can significantly aid in muscle recovery. Protein is crucial for muscle repair, while carbohydrates help restore glycogen stores that are depleted during exercise.

Hydration is Key

Maintaining adequate hydration after a workout is as essential for muscle recovery as it is during the workout. Water supports metabolic functions and nutrient transfer in the body, and it helps manage and alleviate muscle soreness by flushing out toxins that can accumulate during workouts.

Drinking enough water before, during, and after training can prevent dehydration, which often exacerbates muscle soreness and hampers the healing process.

Monitoring and Adaptation

Listening to your body is important when dealing with sore muscles after training. If soreness persists or worsens, it may be a sign that your body needs more rest or that your approach to exercise needs adjustment. Paying attention to how your body responds to different recovery techniques and workout routines can help you tailor your fitness regimen for optimal recovery.

Adjusting your workout intensity, duration, or frequency based on your recovery needs helps alleviate soreness and prevent future discomfort. Regularly assessing your muscle condition after workouts can also help you make informed decisions about when to push harder and when to scale back.

Should I Workout If I’m Still Sore?

Deciding whether to continue working out when experiencing muscle soreness can be challenging. It’s important to distinguish between general soreness from muscle fatigue and pain that could signify an injury.

DOMS is a normal response to unfamiliar or intense physical activity and typically peaks within 24 to 72 hours before gradually subsiding. Here’s how to approach working out when you’re still feeling sore.

Listen to Your Body

Moderate soreness is a natural part of working out, especially when you’re trying new exercises or increasing your intensity. If the soreness is mild to moderate, light to moderate exercise could actually help in alleviating it by increasing blood flow to your muscles and promoting mobility.

Choose Lighter, Different Activities

If you experience sore muscles after a workout, consider engaging in a different type of activity that targets other muscle groups. For instance, if your legs are sore from running, focus on upper-body exercises or try a gentle yoga session. This strategy allows the sore muscles to recover while you continue to stay active.

Intensity and Duration

If you’re planning to exercise while sore, be sure to taper down the intensity and length of your workout. Engaging in light activity is beneficial, but pushing yourself through intense workouts can lead to increased muscle damage and prolonged recovery.

Active Recovery

Engaging in active recovery methods, such as stretching, walking, or light cycling, can enhance circulation and help alleviate some of the muscle stiffness and discomfort associated with DOMS.

Avoid Exercise If Pain Is Severe

If the soreness severely limits your mobility or is accompanied by sharp pain, it’s best to rest and avoid exercising the affected muscles. Severe and persistent pain, especially pain that worsens with activity, may indicate an injury that requires medical attention.

By understanding your body’s signals and responding appropriately, you can decide whether to rest or continue working out. Always prioritize your body’s health and consider professional advice if you’re unsure about your symptoms.

Try These Tips To Soothe Those Muscles Today!

Understanding what helps sore muscles after workout routines allows you to recover more effectively and continue pursuing your fitness goals with less discomfort. Remember, while pushing your limits is important, listening to your body and allowing it proper recovery time is key to long-term progress.

Whether you decide to workout with sore muscles or give them a break, tailor your recovery methods to what feels best for your body and keeps you moving forward healthily.

Need help with your next workout? Reach out to Peak Physique today for a consultation and get your first workout free!

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