How to Recover from Post-Workout Muscle Soreness

Workout Muscle

Experiencing muscle soreness two days after a tough exercise routine is not unusual, particularly if you are ramping up your workout intensity or beginning on a new exercise program or trying a new sport. This delayed muscle pain and aches are triggered by micro tears in your connective tissues and muscle fibers.

This type of pain is quite common and it’s called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If you haven’t worked out for some time or if you are trying a new exercise program, there is a good chance that you will get muscle soreness after the activity. Your body is just telling you that your muscles need some time for recovery.

The upside is that when your body gets used to the new workout routine or sport, you will not experience a lot of post-workout soreness or pain. Sometimes, you wouldn’t get them at all. 

How long does post-workout muscle pain last?

Muscle soreness that happens after an intense exercise often goes away after two days of resting. However, if the muscle pain does not go away after resting and becomes more painful, it can be a sign that you have possible muscle injuries.

Feeling intense muscle pains during an exercise can also mean that you have muscle injuries or strain. If muscle ache comes with a stiff neck, fever, difficulty in breathing, and weakness, you need to consult a physician.

Tips to stop muscle soreness and pain

Use a cold compressIf it’s a serious injury, or if you see some swelling on

 the joint or muscle area and feel warm, to the touch, wrap some ice in a towel and apply it on the painful area for 15 minutes. If you don’t see swelling and you just feel sore from the workout, you can use a hot pack also for 15 minutes to improve the flow of blood.

Get a post-workout massage

A sports or deep tissue massage using a percussion massager can help relax tense, sore muscles and relieve muscle pains.

Do stretching exercises

Do stretches for 10 minutes after an intense workout to avoid sore muscles. And before you start working out, do warm ups using movements like marching in place or swinging your arms. You can also walk slowly and increase speed slowly.

Active recovery exercises 

Active recovery simply means you don’t stop exercising. The fact that you are feeling soreness after a workout means you’ve stretched your muscles and the muscles are getting stronger. By doing active recovery exercises – like walking, cycling or swimming, you break down lactic acid buildup in the muscles and you avoid pain and soreness.

Slowly do eccentric exercises

You are more prone to getting muscle pains if you do eccentric exercises. Eccentric contractions happen when muscles stretch using tension like during the “down motion” of a bicep curl. Running or walking downhill are also types of eccentric exercises, so gradually increase your intensity.

Take warm baths

Taking warm baths relaxes tense muscles and improves blood flow, which gives temporary pain relief.

Use topical pain relief creams

There is not much proof that liniments, oils and other typical over-the-counter sports creams have any effect beyond the massaging action. 

What can you do to avoid muscle post-workout soreness?

Although the suggestions here can help ease the soreness, there are other things you can do to minimize delayed onset muscle soreness or even prevent it from happening in the first place. 

Go about your workouts slowly

Since doing too much too soon triggers DOMS, it follows that going into a new workout routine or sport slowly lowers the chances of you experiencing muscle soreness after the activity. 

Use a massage gun after working out

Using a  handheld massager after working out can lower the intensity of muscle soreness. A study published in 2014 by the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy stated that self-myofascial release, as done with massage guns or foam rollers after a tough workout  helped minimize post-workout muscle soreness in the following days.

All in all, time and rest should help relieve muscle soreness—unless of course it’s something serious.

While you’re in the process of recovery, you also need to look out for signs of a more serious condition. A condition called rhabdomyolysis happens when over strained or too worked up muscle fibers die and release myoglobin into your blood, which then causes kidney damage and worse – kidney failure. 

Rhabdomyolysis is a serious medical condition, and comes with several other symptoms such as: weakness, excessive muscle aches, swelling and brown-colored urine. Should you start noticing any of these signs, you should go to a hospital emergency right away. 

Or if you feel sharp pains while you are working out, or if muscle soreness doesn’t go away after two days, those can indicate that you actually have an injury and must see a doctor immediately.