We’ve all been there before: After one-too-many days “being good” and getting in those workouts, it hits — muscle soreness. And just like a good relationship gone bad, once it’s over, the pain is all sorts of awful and makes you question why you even did it in the first place. The good news? There are some ways to deal with that on-set pain. Here are some ways that you can manage muscle soreness from Holly Perkins CSCS, author of Women’s Health Lift to Get Lean:
- ASSESS YOUR LEVEL OF FATIGUE. You should feel tired and “worked” but not completely wrecked from your workout. If you feel completely wrecked, ease up during the next workout and see if that improves things.
- DO SOME LIGHT CARDIO AFTER YOUR WORKOUT. Try 10 minutes of brisk walking or stationary cycling or do exactly what you did for your pre-workout warmup. This helps to bring bloodflow to your muscles and can reduce soreness. Another good idea: foam-rolling.
- EAT PROTEIN AFTER A WORKOUT. Some research suggests that eating fast digesting protein after workouts can help to minimize soreness. I’ve had great success with my clients who’ve tried this. I see a very real correlation with soreness and improper refueling. I pretty much never miss a post workout “meal” that emphasizes protein.
- TAKE A FEW EXTRA DAYS OFF. Overtraining can result from poor recovery, rather than from intense workouts. If you find that you are chronically sore even after troubleshooting with the tips above, you may need more time off in between workouts. In this case, take 2 to 3 days off from exercise altogether and reassess 2 weeks later.
- ICE, ICE, BABY! Ice reigns supreme when it comes to muscle soreness. At the onset of muscle soreness, ice the area for 8 to 10 minutes, two to three times per day, until soreness subsides. The best way is to use real ice, placed in a waterproof bag directly on the skin. You don’t have to worry about frostbite when using real ice, but it’s wise to avoid using reusable ice packs for this reason. If the soreness is substantial — like, can’t-sit-down substantial — anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen are great when used immediately before bed.