Post Workout Pain: Easing Those Aching Muscles

The faster you recover from workout pain, the faster you can get back to exercise.

Have you ever felt the unwanted burn of sore muscles after a workout session? Although some discomfort can send the message to your brain that you just achieved greatness, too much pain may send you to the couch instead of the gym. The faster you heal, the faster you can get back to exercise, so it’s important to nip workout pains in the bud. Use these various ways to soothe your pain after exercising. You don’t have to put forth much effort to feel relief.

Why Your Muscles Hurt

Doctors call workout pain delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It usually happens a day or two after a strenuous workout and can last several days depending on the severity. It’s a normal part of your body’s ability to adapt to the environment. The workout itself tears tiny muscle fibers, leading to soreness. It has nothing to do with amino acids in muscle tissue, as many have been lead to believe. It’s simply a result off overworking muscles, which the body then builds back stronger. While that rebuilding process takes pace, some soreness is normal. Once the muscle repairs, you will be able to work out at a higher level than you could before, but you should expect muscle soreness any time you push yourself beyond your current limits.

Put Your Body in a Time Out

Even if you follow all the rules for warming up, cooling down and stretching, you may still end up feeling your muscles on fire after a workout. If you’re ambitious enough to challenge those same tissues while they are still sore, you can make the condition worse, so avoid training the same muscles on consecutive days.

Chill Out, Then Heat Things Up

After exercise, your muscles become sore because of the inflammation that occurs during the healing process. You can reduce this swelling by applying ice to the affected area. The cold application will narrow your blood vessels, causing the inflammation and pain to subside. The cool temperature may also numb the area, which offers temporary relief as well.

Heat also plays an important role in alleviating muscle pain. Applying heat to the aching areas can improve blood circulation and lessen muscle tension. The key is to use heat after swelling has decreased. You can double the effectiveness of these two methods by letting your ice and heat packs become friends. Cool the sore area for 20 minutes, and then heat it for 20 more minutes.

Work or Reward Your Muscles

workout pain

In many cases, sore muscles are just fatigued from being used. If you experience tired muscles, light exercise may wake them up. Practice some basic yoga, take a leisurely walk or do a few exercises using your own body weight as resistance. By gently moving the muscles, you can get your blood flowing more quickly and ultimately relieve the ache.

If you can’t fathom doing much more than turning the page of a book while resting your tender muscles, consider getting a massage. It’s a nice reward for the hard work you did. A massage complete with gentle rubbing and stretching will release those tight muscles and eliminate some of the stiffness you may feel after your workouts.

Taking anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen may relieve the burn of overworked or torn muscle tissue as well. You can also apply topical treatments to soothe your aches and pains. No matter which method of relief you use, avoid pushing yourself too hard during workouts so that your muscles can remain healthy and strong.