Whether you are a pro athlete or maintaining good health with regular workouts, it’s common to feel post-exercise muscle soreness. A change in intensity or activity activates the muscles in different ways and might engage new muscles.
As a result, small tears in the muscle fibers occur. This response is healthy because it helps the muscle grow and get stronger. But you’ll feel the effects of it for a few days.
How Long Does Muscle Soreness Last?
You might notice muscle soreness immediately after your exercise session – known as acute soreness. Within 12 hours after you finish exercising, it’s common for the muscles to tighten up or start aching. Most people find that the soreness peaks between 48 – 72 hours later. This pain is known as delayed-onset muscle soreness.
The length of recovery depends on your overall fitness and the intensity of your exercise session. Sometimes, the discomfort improves quickly. Other times, it takes a few days until you are back to normal.
7 Tips to Speed Up Your Recovery
You can do a few things to speed up your recovery time and get back to your regular exercise routine again. Try these tips to find the muscle soreness recovery that works best for you:
- Stretch the Muscles: Gentle stretching is beneficial to loosen up the muscles and improve your flexibility. Stretch at the end of your workout and again when you feel you need to loosen things up. It can be helpful to stretch first thing in the morning and again before bed. Also, proactively stretch before future workouts to minimize muscle soreness later on.
- Ice and Heat: Applying cold and warm compresses to the muscles can help with recovery. Ice reduces inflammation and swelling. Heat increases blood flow. Try placing an ice pack on the affected muscles for 15 minutes. Also, take a hot bath with Epsom salt to loosen things up.
- Pain Medications: If the pain is interfering with your daily activities, you might take over-the-counter medications. Follow the dosage instructions for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as Advil or generic ibuprofen.
- Massage and Topical Creams: Massage the muscles to work out the lactic acid and speed up recovery. Invest in a massage gun, or use this as an excuse to schedule a professional massage. If needed, add a topical over-the-counter cream. Popular brands include IcyHot or Aspercreme.
- Rest and Recovery: Even though you are anxious to continue your exercise, give yourself time to recover so you don’t injure the muscles. Rest is just as important as the workout to allow the muscles to rebuild between training sessions. Listen to your body and set a reasonable workout schedule that makes you feel good.
- Use Antioxidant Supplements: Some people find it helpful to use antioxidant supplements, such as fish oil or turmeric. These supplements have potent anti-inflammatory compounds that can help the body during recovery.
- Try a Foam Roller: Work out the soreness by massaging the muscles with a foam roller. This form of self-massage is beneficial for improving flexibility and reducing muscle fatigue. Place the foam roller on the floor, position your sore muscles over the roller, then gently move back and forth to work out the tender spot. Look for instructional videos for more information.
Are your symptoms intensifying with time or lasting longer than a few days? Then it could be an indication of an injury. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor to determine if you need medical treatment.
Preventing Muscle Soreness
You can’t avoid muscle soreness. If you are exercising and working the muscles, then you can expect to feel a bit of pain and discomfort for a few days. It’s part of the process as you are getting stronger.
Here are a few suggestions to help you minimize the soreness after future workouts:
- Stay Consistent: Muscle soreness is often the worst when you are starting a new exercise routine. It takes time for your muscles to get used to the new activities. Even though you are sore, stay consistent, and you’ll find that the pain eases in the coming weeks.
- Honor Rest Days: Listen to the message the muscles are sharing. When you are sore, then it’s best to give that group of muscles a break. Wait for 48 hours before you work on that muscle group again. Avoid inactivity because the muscles sometimes tighten up more because of lack of movement. Instead, choose lighter intensity movement to help loosen the muscles – such as walking.
- Warm-Up: Take a moment to engage in gentle movements instead of jumping right into a workout. The warm-up increases blood flow and wakes the muscles up, preparing them for the intense activities that are coming. Try light cardio exercises, such as walking, gentle jogging, or cycling.
- Practice Mindfully: Be aware of your body position and technique during your exercise. Using the proper positioning helps to prevent post-workout muscle pain.
- Drink Water: Staying hydrated is key, especially when you are moving your body. Hydration helps prevent muscle soreness by lubricating your joints, managing body temperature, and carrying nutrients to the cells. Always have a water bottle during your workout to minimize serious symptoms from exercise.
- Know Your Limits: Over-training increases the likelihood of feeling sore after a workout. Pay attention to your physical limitations. If you are trying to increase your weights or intensity, then take it slowly over the upcoming weeks.
Keep in mind that the pain you feel after exercising doesn’t necessarily indicate your fitness levels. Both novice participants and conditioned athletes experience muscle soreness. It’s how the muscles adapt to changes in movement, such as an increase in duration or intensity.
When you are enjoying the benefits of regular gym attendance, then these muscle soreness tips can help you at the top of your game. If you need a quality place to work out, then we invite you to join Fitness Nation today. Our facility has all of the equipment and services you need to optimize your health.