If you are someone who works out regularly, you will know that there are two types of post-workout soreness that you are likely to experience.
You can experience a small degree of pain and discomfort shortly after you have completed your workout, and you can also experience delayed onset muscle soreness (aka DOMS) approximately 24-48 hours after you have completed your workout.
In either case it is perfectly normal to experience some degree of pain, and is generally nothing to worry about (unless you have genuinely injured yourself), but it can sometimes be really annoying if it starts to interfere with your everyday life.
So listed below are 10 different ways you can prevent, or at least reduce post-workout muscle soreness:
One of the main reasons why people experience a great deal of pain and discomfort after exercise is because they do not warm up beforehand. Throwing yourself straight into a vigorous workout is never a good idea, so you should always stretch your muscles and do some gentle warm-up exercises before you begin.
2. Warm Down
It is also important to do some gentle warm-down exercises after you have completed your workout rather than head straight for the showers. So instead of stopping immediately after you have finished a gruelling workout, you should do some gentle exercises that will get some blood flowing to your muscles to reduce soreness and speed up recovery. A little bit of light cardio may well help as well.
3. Apply Ice And / Or Heat Packs
As with any kind of pain, applying ice and heat packs will often help to ease the pain. Therefore if you always seem to have a small amount of pain immediately after a workout, or indeed a day or two after your workout if you suffer from DOMS, applying ice and heat to the affected muscles will often make a difference, and will at least give you some temporary relief. Taking alternating hot and cold showers is also said to be effective as well.
4. Fuel Your Body
If you are not overly concerned about what you eat, the truth is that you are far more likely to experience some muscle pain because your body needs the right nutrients to build and repair muscle and recover from each and every workout. The general advice is that you should eat easily digested carbs to fuel your workouts, healthy fats to lubricate your joints and protein to build and repair muscle.
5 .Stay Hydrated
Many people experience pain in their muscles because they do not consume enough water before or after their workouts. However this is vitally important because you lose a lot of water through sweat during a strenuous workout, and it is all too easy to become dehydrated if you are not careful.
6. Allow Your Body To Recover
Sometimes the main reason why people experience the exact same muscle pains over and over again is because they are working the same muscle groups far too often. It is generally best to focus on certain muscle groups on certain days rather than hitting all your muscles every time you go to the gym. You need to give them a chance to fully recover before you put them through another workout, otherwise you will experience more and more pain and may end up injuring yourself.
7. Keep The Muscles Working
Although it is contrary to the last point, it is often a good idea to do some light exercise during rest days or in the period between workouts simply to get the blood flowing to your muscles. This is often enough to shorten recovery times quite considerably and reduce some of the discomfort.
8. Massage Your Muscles
One of the best things you can do to prevent stiffness and muscle soreness is to massage your muscles on a regular basis. During my 6-month stay in Thailand I went to the gym all the time and experienced hardly any post-workout pain whatsoever, and I’m sure it was because I always use to have several invigorating Thai massages every week.
9. Take A Complete Break
If your constant pain is really starting to affect your daily life, it is often a good idea to take a complete break from exercise to give your muscles, and indeed your whole body a chance to fully recover. An extended break of at least a week is usually enough to get your body back to full working order in my experience.
10. Consider Taking Anti-Inflammatory Medication
Another way to ease the pain is to take some anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen, for example, but I would try all of the methods listed above before you consider this option because of the possible side effects.