If you have sore muscles a day or two after a tough workout, don’t panic, it’s completely normal. It’s even more likely to happen if you’re not so fit or a beginner.
Serious muscle pains may have you worrying that you’ve hurt yourself. In fact, some people even contemplate quitting all forms of physical exercise altogether because they’re too afraid to continue. However, sore muscles shouldn’t be a source of discouragement. As a matter of fact, you should take it as a good sign.
It’s common to have sore muscles between 24-72 hours after an intense workout, especially if you increase the length and intensity of your workout session, or if you’re trying a new physical activity. It’s just your body’s way of telling you that your muscles need some time to recover. This condition is called Delayed Muscle Soreness (DOMs).
When you engage in a tough physical activity, your muscles go through stress, and sometimes you stress your muscles tissues beyond what they’re used to. When this happens, it causes microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. These tears, along with the inflammation that comes with it, make you feel pain in your muscles.
Your muscles will heal with time, and as they do, becoming stronger and being able to perform better in future. However, in the meantime, check out these tips that will help you reduce muscle pains after intense physical activities:
1. Always Eat After An Intense Workout
Eating healthy meals within half an hour after a workout will help reduce muscle soreness by providing your muscles with the nutrients they need to heal and become stronger. It’s important to eat enough proteins and carbohydrates after every session or a sample full body workout. You should take about 40g of protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes after your workout.
The protein will provide your muscles with amino acids, which speed up the recovery process. The carbohydrates, on the other hand, will replenish the energy you lost during the workout.
While it’s essential to eat proteins after a workout, you shouldn’t just limit your protein intake to minutes after a workout. You should make it a habit to prevent your muscles from having long-lasting soreness as a result of strenuous workouts.
It’s important to prioritize your meals to ease the muscle pains. Eating anti-inflammatory food will do you a whole lot of good. This can include watermelon, cherry juice, ginger, and pineapples.
2. Do Light Exercises
When you have pain in your muscles after a workout, chances are you’ll want to avoid all forms of movement altogether because of the pain you feel each time. Reclining on your sofa all day is, however, not a good idea as it will do you more harm than good. One of the tricks for muscle soreness relief is to engage in light physical activities such as walking, swimming or yoga.
While it’s important to keep your muscles active, you should also refrain from strenuous exercises so that you don’t cause more damage to your muscles. The key is to keep engaging in light exercises so that you get the blood moving to your muscles to enable them to get the oxygen and nutrients they need to speed up the repair process.
3. Stay Hydrated
It might seem obvious, but if you want to reduce the soreness in your muscles, you must drink enough water after your workout. Drinking more water before, during, and after your session can help you cope with sore muscles better. Water flushes out waste products from the body, eases inflammation, and delivers nutrients to your muscles so they can heal faster.
It might be difficult to tell whether or not you’re hydrated, especially when you’re not thirsty. This is why it’s good to drink water regularly. You shouldn’t wait until you’re thirsty before you hydrate because thirst is a sign of dehydration. To maintain proper hydration, you can use the color of your urine to determine whether or not you’re hydrated. Dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration, but you know your body has enough water when the color of your urine is plain yellow.
4. Doing Some Light Stretching Will Also Help
Another way to reduce tightness in your muscles is by stretching after your workout. Stretching helps increase your motion range and reduce the tension in your muscles. You should stretch for about 10-15 minutes after a workout, though you should be careful not to overstrain your muscles while you stretch as this can cause further damage.
The key is to focus on light stretches that ease the tightness in your muscles, but don’t overdo it. You can try stretching from a static position.
5. Use Ice Or Heat Therapy
If you notice inflammation in your muscle area after a workout, it’s a sign of muscle strain. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the affected area to ease the soreness. Place the ice pack on the affected spot for about 15 minutes. This will relieve the pains and make you feel better. Repeat the process at intervals.
You can try heat therapy if your muscles still hurt 48 hours after a workout but you don’t notice any inflammation. Gently apply a warm heat pack on the spot but be mindful of its temperature to avoid getting burnt.
6. Take Time To Rest And Recover
After a heavy workout, your muscles need a little time to recover—that’s the reason you have sore muscles in the first place. Taking a day off after a workout is one of the ways to treat sore muscles. You can choose to rest the day after an intense workout and do only mild exercises at home, then continue with your normal workout schedule the following day.
If you continue engaging in tough physical exercises even when you have pains in your muscles, you may experience long-lasting soreness because they don’t have adequate time to heal.
7. Get A Massage
A gentle massage can also help relieve the tension in your muscles, increase blood flow, and enhance your mood. When you have post-workout muscle pains, it’s best to try a light pressure massage. This will soothe the pains and make you feel better. You can also try a tender spot massage where pressure is directly applied to the affected spot to help relax the sore muscles.
It’s normal to have post-workout muscle pains, especially if you increase the length and intensity of your workout, or if you’re trying something new. However, this shouldn’t be an obstacle to achieving your fitness goals. By following the simple tips mentioned above, you’ll be able to reduce muscles soreness and achieve your workout goals.