If you’ve ever felt the soreness of post-workout muscles, you know how painful it can be. Some experts say that this pain is caused by microscopic tears in the muscle that occur when you ask your body to do something new or more strenuous than usual.
Other sources point out the role of lactic acid in muscle soreness – this by-product of cellular respiration can settle into the muscles during the hours following a workout, setting the stage for muscle pain.
How can you avoid this crippling feeling after working out? Here are some ideas on how to reduce muscle pain after exercising.
Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your workout helps your body flush out those by-products your body produces as a result of burning energy.
Slow Start-Up Cool-Down
It may help your muscles to start and stop your workout gradually. If you jump right into intense muscle strain, it could produce more damage than if you warm up with cardio exercises first.
Stopping exercise abruptly may not be good, either – if you work your muscles intensely, and then go sit on the couch, your blood – loaded with all kinds of microscopic by-products from your workout – may “pool” or stagnate in your muscles. Since the blood vessels remain dilated for some time after a workout, say experts, having a cool-down period where you walk gently and keep your muscles moving should greatly minimize the next-day soreness.
Calcium and Magnesium
These minerals are crucial for muscle integrity. Taking a calcium and magnesium supplement daily is recommended to prevent muscle soreness – you might want to increase your intake of these minerals on the days you work out by eating foods with lots of magnesium and calcium: black beans, dark leafy greens, and low-fat dairy products, for example.
As part of your warm-up and cool-down, include stretching. This oft-repeated advice is easy to forget, but it’s considered very important for preventing pain after your workout. At the beginning of your session, stretching preps the muscles for a more strenuous workout by increasing flexibility and circulation. At the end of your workout, stretching helps relax tense muscles and keep circulation moving.
Take a Cold Shower
Okay, maybe it doesn’t actually need to be cold – but cooling your muscles down after a workout might help prevent muscles soreness, say some sources. While most of us think of heat to relax muscles, cold is said to reduce inflammation, and inflammation is the culprit in muscle soreness that results from muscle damage. A bath or shower in water as cold as you can stand may help keep your muscles from becoming swollen and sore.