We all know what it feels like to experience muscle soreness after a workout. We’re stiff, achy, and in quite a bit of pain. But, there may be a lot you don’t know about sore muscles, let alone how to deal with them properly.
Here, we’re sharing the five things you need to know about sore muscles and how to improve their symptoms. Let’s get started!
What You Need to Know About Muscle Soreness
Not all muscle soreness is the same.
There are two types of muscle soreness you’re likely to experience after a workout:
- Acute Muscle Soreness
- Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Acute Muscle Soreness comes on immediately after exercising and is often described as a burning sensation. It’s what you feel when you push your muscles slightly past their max. This is caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles but it dissipates almost as quickly as it came.
DOMS, on the other hand, creates pain and stiffness in your muscles 24 to 72 hours after strenuous exercise, especially when you perform exercises you’re not used to. DOMS is caused by tiny tears in your muscle fibers and connective tissue. But don’t be alarmed, these tears cause your muscles to rebuild themselves stronger than before and are completely normal.
Muscle soreness shouldn’t stop you from exercising.
When we feel achy and sore, it’s common to avoid exercise as not to aggravate our soreness even further. However, exercising while sore actually shouldn’t stop you from doing a workout.
Again, sore muscles are natural, and so long as you’re not in too much pain, doing the same workout that made you sore or something slightly lower in intensity should be perfectly safe and may actually help with your symptoms.
Warm-Ups and cooldowns are important.
While there’s not much that can be done to fully prevent muscle soreness, warming up before a workout and cooling down afterward can help reduce any uncomfortable symptoms while simultaneously protecting your muscles from injury.
Keep in mind that stretching before a workout isn’t necessarily the best course of action. Instead, dynamic movements that increase your heart rate while gently mobilizing your muscles are your best bet in a warm-up.
Then, during a cool down, this is where you’ll be able to implement some static stretches and foam rolling to help soothe your muscles and hurry any soreness along.
Muscle soreness isn’t an indicator of fitness.
In other words, even bodybuilders and professional athletes still experience muscle soreness, no matter how fit they are.
Sure, as your muscles get stronger, you should be able to do the same workouts with less soreness. But, as you increase the intensity of a workout, you’ll always get a little sore, and it’s not a sign of being out of shape or unfit.
You should see a doctor if your muscle soreness lasts for more than 7 days after exercising.
While DOMS does occur for a few days after a workout, sore muscles lasting longer than 7 days without any further exercise may be cause for concern. Be sure to see you’re doctor if your muscle soreness persists for a week or more.
How to Deal With Sore Muscles
Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Supplements
Since sore muscles are technically a form of inflammation, it makes sense that anti-inflammatory foods and supplements can help treat muscle soreness.
Amino acids are particularly helpful in this regard. So, foods like watermelon that are high in L-citrulline or BCAA supplements are key to better recovery. Magnesium and turmeric are also beneficial.
Hot or Cold Therapy May Help
Applying heat such as a warm compress or taking a warm bath right after a strenuous workout can help soothe sore muscles. And cold therapy such as using an ice pack or taking an ice bath can also provide muscle relief.
Use a Foam Roller
Foam rollers allow for a form of self-myofascial massage, which releases tension in your myofascial tissue, the connective tissue surrounding your muscles.
Gently roll out your sore muscles using a foam roller and get the benefits of a deep, soothing massage on your own.
Proper hydration is always essential, no matter whether you’re doing strenuous exercise or not.
But, in terms of sore muscles, hydration not only helps flush out excess lactic acid but also helps improve your overall performance. Proper form is also a huge factor in how sore you’ll be after exercising, so improved performance is key.
All in all, sore muscles are a natural fact of life. They’re the price we pay for our muscles to rebuild themselves and get stronger over time. Still, we don’t have to simply grin and bear it.
Hopefully, you learned a thing or two about sore muscles and how to deal with them. Give these tips a try after your next workout. Your muscles will thank you!