Whenever you increase the intensity of your workout or try a new exercise, you’re likely to experience muscle soreness afterwards. This is due to small tears that develop in fibers of muscles that are strained. While you can’t completely avoid experiencing soreness, the following practices can enable the body to recover more quickly.
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout to flush out toxins and prevent dehydration. A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that dehydration worsens the muscle damage that leads to soreness. If you exercise in a hot, humid environment, it’s even more important to stay hydrated.
2. Eat Cherries or Blueberries
Eating cherries or blueberries can protect your muscles from damage during workouts. Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the consumption of tart cherry juice alleviated muscle pain resulting from exercise. Another study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism concluded that eating blueberries daily for six weeks decreased muscle inflammation caused by running.
3. Apply Heat
In a study published by the Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, scientists tested whether moist heat or dry heat worked best for easing muscle soreness. Both were effective, but the moist heat worked faster. The heat boosts blood flow, which helps wash away metabolic products that increase damage to muscle tissues. According to The Doctor Weighs In, a 20-minute warm bath following a workout is helpful.
4. Use Foam Rollers
A foam roller is a cylinder of dense foam, usually about two feet long. It is used for self-myofascial release, otherwise known as self-massage, a procedure that helps work out muscle tightness. In a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers found the use of a foam roller after a training session reduced muscle soreness in 20 male subjects..
5. Get Adequate Rest
Take a 48-hour rest period between working the same muscle groups. If you’re doing strengthening exercises for the biceps, give your arms two days of rest to allow them to recover before resuming the routine. Inadequate rest will worsen the muscle damage and is counterproductive to muscle development.
Aside from the above recommendations, don’t neglect standard practices for workouts, including warm-up and cool-down periods. Know your body, and don’t push beyond your limits. Incorporating the above measures into your exercise sessions and lifestyle should help minimize muscle soreness.
Experiencing pain rather than soreness after a workout may indicate an injury has occurred. If this happens, it’s a good idea to seek a care provider in your area to get expert help and advice.