If youíre an athlete who is used to pushing your body to the limit, youíre probably already familiar with that feeling of intense soreness a day after an athletic activity. Itís so commonly experienced that it has a name: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS.
DOMS is caused by tiny, microscopic tears in your muscle tissue that occur when you exercise. Muscle pain and soreness acts as a warning signal from your body communicating that you should go easy as your muscles try to recover.
With that said, you might be wondering what you can do in the meantime to make things a little more pleasant for yourself as you try to just complete your daily tasks. Below, we have some tips you can use to help ease your muscle pain.
Youíll be considerably less sore if you take the time to properly warm up before jumping into your work out. Itís a little more work but it can make a difference if your muscles are constantly wracked by pain after you exercise.
In fact, if you donít adequately warm up before your workout, you could be risking a muscle strain or sprain. Cold muscles also simply wonít perform as well as warmed up ones.
So, consider a 10-20 minute warm up period to properly prep your muscles for exercise.
Wear the Right Gear
If youíre wearing flip flops while hiking, youíre going to be in a world of pain after your hike is over. While you donít have to shell out tons of money to do the activities you love most, it is important to invest in the right gear if you want to avoid unnecessary pain.
In addition, you should be conscious of how long youíve been using certain gear and clothing. Athletic clothing may wear out quickly depending on the frequency of your exercise, so itís important to make sure your gear is in good shape.
If youíre running in shoes that have seen better days, you may experience sore feet and aching knees from the lack of adequate cushioning that has been worn down over time.
Not only can drinking enough water help you prevent cramps while youíre exercising, it can also help decrease inflammation post-workout. While water is the best fluid to drink during your workout, if you are working out for a long time or in incredibly hot conditions, you may want to consider adding an electrolyte supplement.
If you have trouble remembering to drink water, consider investing in a water bottle that helps keep track or an app that reminds you to do so like Plant Nanny.
After your work out
Donít jump into your car and drive away from the gym after your work out is done. Spend at least 10-15 minutes giving your muscles a chance to relax with an adequate cool-down period.
Follow your cool-down with some light stretching and foam rolling if you really want to maximize your recovery period. Plus, relaxing after a workout will help your mental health in addition to your physical health.
Another post-workout routine you should consider is an ice bath. Ice baths Ė while deeply uncomfortable Ė are a great tool for your recovery. They have been shown to reduce athletesí muscles soreness compared to resting.
Another good tip is to follow up your icing later in the day with a round of heat from a heating pad. Heat promotes circulation to the area of soreness, which can speed up your recovery.
Itís also a relaxing way to unwind after a hard day at work that might be able to replace your evening nightcap habit.
If the pain doesnít go awayÖ
If youíre experiencing pain after a few days of at-home treatment, itís a good idea to see a doctor to rule out something more serious than a muscle strain or sprain.
If you have muscle pain that comes out of nowhere, pain that has occurred after a change in your medication, or pain that happens with higher temperature, these could be signs your muscle soreness is serious.
Muscles soreness is to be expected if you work out a lot. However, to ease the symptoms so you can go about your day, you can follow these tips in our guide. Soon, youíll be pain free and back to exercising.