How To Reduce Muscle Soreness After Working Out

Muscle soreness usually occurs after a workout that may have been more intense than usual. Perhaps, you are returning to exercise after a break or tried to perform a more demanding routine compared to your usual activity.

Here are a few suggestions to help your body deal with post-workout aches and stiffness:

1. Schedule a massage

It has been suggested that massages can reduce muscle pain by reducing inflammation and promoting mitochondrial biogenesis. In one 2012 study, massage therapy appeared to reduce the release of cytokines, which play an important role in triggering inflammation in the body.

Among the various types, a deep-tissue massage or a sports massage can be suitable options to look into. While the former targets the deeper layers of the muscles, the latter focuses on a problem area rather than being a full body massage.

2. Cool down after exercising

"It's important to incorporate a proper cooldown after your run in order to enhance recovery," said Katie Harper of Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy. Apart from soreness, suddenly stopping a demanding workout can affect blood circulation and lead to lightheadedness and potential fainting.

If you go on a run, for instance, it is recommended that you end it with five to ten minutes of slow jogging. "It allows you to return your heart rate to baseline gradually, instead of abruptly," Harper explained.

3. Plan for what you eat

Amino acids and proteins are regarded as the building blocks of life for a reason. Eating a little protein before and after your workout can help in the process of repairing sore muscles, thus, acting like a building block.

Men's Journal also recommends eating foods high in potassium (such as bananas, oranges, melons, raisins, and potatoes) as people who have low levels of this nutrient are prone to experiencing muscle soreness and cramping. 

4. Foam rolling exercises

"When done regularly, foam rolling unties the knots in your muscles by breaking down the adhesions and helping to heal the tissues," said Mike Boyle, owner of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning in Massachusetts. 

It can help in targeting specific areas of pain such as the knees, the lower back, shoulder, heels, the Achilles tendon, and other parts of the upper body.

According to a study published in 2015, taking up twenty minutes of foam rolling was found to be effective in reducing delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS. 

5. Using cold and heat

"Alternating cold and heat may be most beneficial following exercise-induced muscle soreness," said Christopher Hogrefe, an orthopedic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine, Chicago.

"Going from icing to heating reduces muscle pain after exercising. Applying ice for twenty minutes followed by heat for twenty minutes may be an effective regimen to help address muscle soreness following activity." 

However, both temperatures may not always be suitable in every case. For example, if a part of the body is bruised or swollen, using cold therapy is preferable.