Three nights of late bouldering sessions at the gym, and I feel like a zombie who's been hit by a truck. Sore muscles are never comfortable, but I wear them with a badge of honor knowing I pushed my body a little harder than usual. But days after I have gone a little (or a lot) overboard, relief is definitely in order. Here are my go-to ways of easing sore muscles after an intense workout.
- Whether it's a hot tub, steam or sauna room, or just a soak in my tub at home, a little heat always does wonders for sore muscles - I always feel less stiff and more relaxed. Applying heat to muscles reduces pain by increasing blood flow to the area, which helps the small muscle tears causing the pain heal faster.
- I find that after working out, lengthening overworked muscle fibers by stretching easing possible post-workout pain. Although, studies have found that stretching doesn't relieve the lingering pain of a hard fitness session, I feel it makes the new muscles fibers more elastic and healthier. On the other hand, light cardio the day after an intense workout improves circulation warming up your body, and we already know that a little heat goes a long way to help the pain go away!
- As if any of us need an excuse for a massage, getting one is a great way to relieve tension and pain away from muscles. Pamper yourself with a professional massage, ask a friend to do the rubbing for you, or DIY with The Stick, a foam roller, or tennis ball.
- There's a reason elite athletes swear by the post-workout ice bath - it works. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels, which reduces swelling. And when you come out of the bath, your body warms up quickly, improving circulation, which also helps with the healing process. Because I am not a fan of shocking cold temps, I only use ice for the times when I have a strained muscle or serious injury. Occasionally I am inspired to take a cold shower post-workout, which is said to help the pain causing inflammation.
- Even with the best care, we sometimes need a little something extra to ease away the pain. Don't be ashamed to take an ibuprofen; it might not help you heal any faster, but it can definitely take the edge off. Give yourself a day - or two - to rest and recuperate before heading into the next intense workout.