Oh, the love hate relationship with sore muscles - knowing you killed it at your workout but cringing whenever you lift your arms the next day. In case you didn’t know muscles micro tear before they can rebuild, using protein, to create muscle. Sounds sore to me, but that’s not what actually causes soreness. Initial soreness is caused by a build up of lactic acid, but if it still hurts to sit the next day, and the next, you’re experiencing a rush of white blood cells, prostaglandins (anti-inflammatory) and other nutrients and fluids that all arrive at the same time to repair the damage after an intense session causing swelling and inflammation that can last for days. And while some workout buffs love the soreness, others prefer not to walk around like a zombie. If that’s you here are a few tips and remedies to help ease the pain.
First things first, water is your best friend. If you’re dehydrated and sweating it out your muscles will be tighter and more prone to injury so stay hydrated. Ibuprofen or anti-inflammatory medication taken before or after a workout have also proven to be an effective remedy. But there are natural remedies that have healing properties that can aid in the achiness.
Massages – If you’re able to splurge on a massage or have a loved one with good hands a massage, sometimes a lot of massaging, has been proven to aid in relieving the pain. Studies have shown subjects who received massages after an intense workout had 30% less muscle pain than those that did not.
Cold packs – Make your own, use frozen vegetables, but any form of cold on a potentially sore area will reduce the flow of blood to the area and reduce inflammation.
Epsom Bath – On the other end of the spectrum filling a hot bath with Epsom salts will quicken the healing process by increasing blood flow and the magnesium in the salt nurtures muscle relaxation. This particular remedy is recommended 24 hours after the pain sets in.
Tart Cherry – Tart cherry is a fitness superfood. The fruit is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents and the beautiful rich color it gets from anthocyanin is being closely studied as a muscle recovery agent. Eat one and ½ cups or drink a cup of tart cherry juice, without sugar, after a workout to prevent inflammation and soreness.
Ginger – Raw ginger or heated ginger has natural inflammatory properties and works to enhance blood flow and circulation to alleviate pain. You can add a raw piece to boiling water to create a tea or wrap it in cotton and drop in hot water, allow to cool and apply as a compress to the injured areas.
Sore muscles are a literal pain, but you can try different paths to find relief. And sore muscles don’t have to stop you from working out. Studies show a light cardio workout before strength training will help loosen up your muscles for the next round, but if the pain is too much, you can always take a day off. Your body will let you know what course works best for you.