Despite all the wonderful and myriad ways in which exercise can improve your health, it is not without its downside – muscle soreness after working out!
A good hard workout does wonders for the body, but that can be easy to forget that when you wake up the next morning with so much muscle soreness that it makes it difficult to get out of bed. We’ve all been there, and telling yourself “no pain, no gain” doesn’t really help when your legs feel like jelly but you still have to get up and power through the day.
It can be hard to motivate yourself to stay active when you know that each workout will have to be paid for with pain. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to reduce muscle soreness after working out!
How to Reduce Muscle Soreness After Working Out
I really cannot emphasize enough the importance of stretching. I know someone who has been a practitioner of the martial arts for over 20 years now, and some of the training has been quite rough.
Not only has he experienced some pretty harsh training himself, he has also trained others and learned to understand their reactions. Stretching properly makes a big difference between who bails out and who stays.
Those who refuse to stretch fully before working out will usually wake up the next day feeling like they’ve been run over with a steamroller. I have often seen large, strong men and women leave the training hall barely able to walk….and why? Because they didn’t stretch enough! And it is never long before these people decide to quit.
By contrast, those who adopt a proper stretching routine tend to be much more able to engage in intense physical activity without injury.
Martial arts senseis actually recommend that you stretch every morning for 15 minutes. Furthermore, you should do this immediately upon waking. Every minute that you wait will only allow your muscles to seize in place.
Additionally, the Ayurvedic daily routine I follow recommends that each day is started with some form of gentle stretching, such as some sun salutations.
Massage is another effective method of relieving muscle soreness. Of course, the easiest way to use this method is to know a person who is able and willing to massage you. Needless to say, this is not an option for everyone. (If I could afford it, a daily, personal massage therapist would definitely be something I’d be investing in!)
Unless you can afford to see a professional, your only real candidate would be your significant other. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really feel comfortable asking my friends to massage me, haha!
But if you’re unable to convince your significant other to give you a post-workout massage, no problem – there are many methods of self-massage that can help to relieve muscle soreness after working out.
One of the more popular ways is to use a foam roller. As the name implies, this is just a round piece of foam that is rolled over the body to work soreness out of it.
If you’ve never used a foam roller before, I recommend a foam roller that is on the softer side and provides a moderate intensity. Fair warning – foam rolling can actually be quite painful (but in a good way) so it’s important to avoid choosing the wrong foam roller.
I recommend using this AmazonBasics High-Density foam roller if you’re just getting started with foam rolling. It comes in a variety of colors and highly rated by thousands of people!
Also, don’t forget that those things attached to the ends of your arms can provide a great massage – your own hands 🙂 Even just rubbing your sore areas in a circular motion can do the trick at helping to reduce muscle soreness after working out. A lot of the time, I find that I can just “rub” the soreness out of most areas.
If you are experiencing extreme soreness, you can also try using a cold pack. My favorite is this reusable ice pack with a strap. The strap on this ice pack makes it a lot more convenient to use than regular ice packs or a bag of ice, because you don’t have to sit there holding the ice pack to your muscle.
Another tip – rather than simply holding the ice on the sore area, you can try gently rubbing it in, to massage the area also.
Numbing or Pain Relieving Products
You may also consider some kind of a numbing product, of which there are many on the market. Tiger Balm is my favorite, and I’ve used it since I was a teenager to help alleviate muscle soreness after working out.
Tiger Balm contains only natural, herbal ingredients including camphor, menthol, cajuput oil, mint oil, clove oil and cassia oil. These do an amazing job and alleviating muscle soreness!
Soaking in a warm tub of water can help to relax your muscles and loosen stiff joints, and adding Epsom salts to your bath can help to increase the benefits of a long, hot soak.
Epsom salt baths are a popular treatment for muscle soreness. Many people claim that Epsom salt baths help to alleviate their muscle soreness after working out, due to the magnesium in Epsom salt that is absorbed in your skin while soaking.
In recent years, acupuncture has become increasingly popular. Acupressure is a similar approach but without the needles. By using pressure on certain points, proponents believe it stimulates your meridian system and help you reduce your physical pain by producing endorphins.
If you want to learn more, see our guide to the best acupressure mats
If you can afford to go the extra mile, then there are some various options that I don’t personally own, but would love to at some point.
A dedicated massage chair like this uses the power of shiatsu to reduce muscle soreness, stress and fatigue. If something like this is in your price range, it would definitely be a good investment in your health.
Less pricier than a massage chair but still pretty luxurious, is an inflatable hot tub. There’s not much better for sore muscles than a good, hot soak – imagine being able to do that every day at home.