Self Help Tips In Treating Sore Muscles
Experiencing sore muscles is a normal response of the body that usually occurs 24 to 48 hours after exercise or strenuous activity. Soreness of muscles can be pleasurable after a serious workout at the gym or after doing household chores, but it can be painful at times. You may feel pleased by the slight tenderness of your quads and hamstrings after a long run but “bad soreness” is a sign that your muscles are shocked, and the manifestations include persistent pain, numbness or weakness, and black-and-blue bruising due to lactic acid buildup. It is a result of tears in the muscle fibers combined with inflammation, which results in pain.
A sore muscle lacks strength, becomes stiff, and reduces contraction. A doctor like the one here can assess your muscle soreness to ensure that it won’t be a major cause of health problems. To prevent sore muscles you need to ensure that your muscles properly recover. To limit your pain and trips to the doctor, make sure you engage in warm-up exercises before performing repetitive and strenuous activities. Here are some more self-help tips when it comes to treating sore muscles:
Perform an Active Cooldown
To prepare your muscles, you can spend some time to cool down. Decrease your activity gradually at towards the end of your workout rather than resting entirely. Doing so promotes better blood flow, and reduces blood lactate or the metabolic byproduct which makes your muscles sore. Here are some things to consider when doing an active cooldown.
- Do a 20-minute low-intensity exercise following a strength workout
- Stretching and brisk walking before and after strenuous exercise is always a good idea
- Decrease exercise intensity (20%, 30%, to 50%) gradually towards the end
Hot and Cold Compress
Alternating heat and cold compresses is beneficial in treating a sore muscle that is induced by exercise. Heating pads can increase blood flow since heat is a vasodilator which causes the blood vessels to dilate or expand, flushing the byproducts of inflammation like lactic acid out of the muscles. Ice or cold compress prevents elastic tissue damage. Here’s how you’ll do it:
- Apply ice or cold compress for 20 minutes
- Wait about 1 to 2 minutes
- Apply heat or hot compress for 20 minutes
Get a Massage
A post-exercise massage can reduce pain associated with muscle soreness by reducing the release of cytokines and other compounds causing inflammation in the body. A massage can stimulate the mitochondria or the “powerhouse” structures in the cells, thus promoting proper cellular function and repair. A soothing massage can also help you surpass an exercise rut and motivate you to get back to the gym.
Wear Compression Gear
Wearing compression gear helps reduce muscle soreness, making the muscle recovery faster. It constricts the muscles and prevents fluid buildup while simultaneously improving blood flow. It also eliminates creatine kinase or the enzyme in the muscles that causes muscle pain.
Consume Foods with Anti-inflammatory Properties
There are certain foods with anti-inflammatory effects that can help reduce muscle soreness. Here are some examples:
- Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain with anti-inflammatory properties comparable to anti-inflammatory medications.
- Tart cherries are loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants that can decrease exercise-induced muscle soreness.
- Mushrooms contain polysaccharides or anti-inflammatory compounds.
Use a Foam Roller
While using a foam roller on sore muscles can make you cry, it is also an effective way of repairing your muscles. It decreases edema or muscle swelling as well as enhances tissue healing. Foam rolling for 20 minutes using a high-density foam roller reduces muscle tenderness and decreases dynamic movements.
An ice bath can reduce tissue breakdown and swelling by constricting your blood vessels. Taking an ice bath for 10 minutes after exercising will reduce muscle soreness and pain.
Elevate the Affected Limb
Raising your affected limb above the level of your heart encourages proper circulation of oxygenated blood to your affected muscles, thus helping in repair and recovery.
Stop and Rest
If you feel muscle soreness, it’s important to stop whatever activity you are doing and take a rest. Doing so will help you assess the situation of your muscles and your overall body to avoid causing major muscle damage.
Replenish lost water and electrolytes in your body by drinking water. Ensuring that your body is hydrated will help improve blood circulation to assist in the recovery process of your muscles. Keep a full water bottle by your side during your workout—it’ll help bring red and white blood cells into the site and reduce swelling and inflammation.
If the self-help tips mentioned above are not useful in easing your sore muscles, it is time to talk to your doctor. You don’t want to risk your health and your life just because you think that the pain is generally okay and will fade away soon. Persistent pain, weakness, and bruising all warrant a doctor’s attention. You can talk about alternative pain treatments with your physician aside from taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs to prevent the unpleasant side effects.