WHMC Blog

How to Treat Sore Muscles

For some, it’s a great feeling: Waking up the day after a fantastic workout and feeling the exertion in your muscles. You know you exercised and did something good for your body. However, the muscle soreness can be pretty severe—at times it can even be very limiting. Muscle soreness is usually caused by strenuous activity or working out new muscles. Don’t worry: You’re not alone! Everyone from gym newbies to experienced body builders gets sore muscles after a strenuous workout. Here’s how to cope with muscle soreness after physical activity. Remember to listen to your body. Soreness is normal and fine, but if you feel pain, see a doctor.

Top Ways to Work Through Muscle Soreness

Here are some top tips for avoiding or working through muscle soreness:

  • Work through it – While this may be the last thing you want to hear, studies show that a light workout can actually help you work through muscle soreness and feel better!
  • Get a massage – Is the pain really bad? Get a massage! Treat those sore muscles to the treatment of a professional. Be sure to tell your massage therapist about any soreness you have.
  • Invest in foam rollers – Learn how to use foam rollers for a “self massage” that works through painful sore muscles.
  • Use heat therapy – Heat therapy can work wonders for sore muscles. Treat your body to a nice hot soak or apply a hot pad to sore areas.
  • Hydrate – Make sure you are getting enough water! Proper hydration aids in muscle recovery.
  • Get plenty of sleep – Don’t skimp on sleep! During sleep, your body repairs itself and builds muscles, with muscle-building chemicals such as the growth hormone (GH) produced during the deepest stages of your sleep cycle. It’s critical that you get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep for proper muscle recovery.
  • Invest in compression wear – Serious compression wear can aid circulation and reduce swelling. It’s not enough to just purchase tight clothes: You need serious graded compression wear in order to truly reap the benefits!
  • Fill oil pills – Get in your Omega-3s to ensure muscle recovery! A recent piece of research published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine stated that taking a fish oil pill every day helped lower inflammation and muscle soreness within 48 hours after a strength training workout. Omega-3s stimulate blood flow to your muscle and cut down on inflammation. You can also get your important Omega-3s through other sources such as spinach, nuts, coconut oil, and salmon.
  • Acetaminophen – Acetaminophen—or Tylenol—is the best pain killer for hurting muscles. Ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory drugs may calm swelling and help you feel better, they they also block production of lipid compounds known as prostaglandins that help muscles repair themselves. Tylenol is a much better option.
  • Post-exercise / warm-up stretching – Prevent sore muscles from the get-go by taking time to stretch after a workout. Avoid the old wisdom of stretching before a workout; pulling on cold muscles leads to a greater risk of injury. Instead, engage in a light warm-up before stretching, and / or enjoy a good stretch session once your workout is complete.
  • Cross-train – It’s important not to get “stuck in a rut” when it comes to working out. Mix up heavy strength training with a “cross-training” activity such as walking, cycling, hiking, swimming, or paddleboarding.
  • Yoga – Most people don’t stretch enough. Incorporating yoga into your workout routine can be a great way to achieve your fitness goals while increasing your flexibility, decreasing your risk of injury, and taking care of your body.

Remember: Muscle soreness is a positive thing! It means you are challenging yourself and getting stronger, pushing your body to try new things. When your body is no longer being pushed by a workout, you will stop feeling sore. Learning ways to naturally minimize soreness and promote your body’s healing process ensures that you can continue to push yourself and reach your fitness goals!

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.