The Best Ways to Handle Muscle Soreness
Muscle soreness can range from mild to extreme, and it can be hard to figure out what exactly to do about it. To best treat it or gauge when a rest day is in order, it’s best to know exactly what causes it in the first place. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (or DOMS) occurs in the days following an intense workout that created small tears in the muscles it worked. When the muscles mildly tear it gives them the space to grow. This microtrauma is not a bad thing, but it can hurt. Here are some things to know about it.
If you are experiencing soreness in your legs from workout yesterday, make it an arm and chest day today. It is not necessarily bad to work out sore muscles (and sometimes it can help the soreness), but when a muscle is sore its range of motion is limited which means that injuries are more likely to occur.
When your muscles are sore it can be helpful to work them out a bit, as long as it’s aerobic exercise and not more weigh lifting on the sore muscles. Sore muscles have a buildup of lactic acid in them, and going for a jog or some other aerobic exercise can be just the thing you need to flush some of it out. Plus, you can still work on your calorie burn while you’re taking an off day from pumping iron.
If your muscles have been sore for five days already then it might be time to take a few days off to let them recover. If you’re feeling sore in a joint as opposed to an obvious muscle area then you should consider that you are experiencing a different kind of injury and that it might be time for some down time. Joint pain might also point to the fact that you are overtraining certain muscle groups while overtraining others, or that you might be missing some sort of nutrient in your diet.
Luckily there are some things you can add to your diet that can effectively cut down on muscle soreness. Cherry juice has been proven to cut down on soreness thanks to its high antioxidant content that can reduce inflammation, so try drinking some before you go to workout. Another thing worth drinking before your workout is coffee, which has been shown to cut muscle soreness by half.
Like other injuries, soreness can be treated with ice right. If you start icing the worked muscles right after your workout, you can cut some of the muscle damage and encourage the muscles to start recovering right away. Ice has been shown to help more than a hot bath, despite how cozy and relaxing it may be. For added healing power, try using the herbal cream arnica, a homeopathic treatment that has been shown in some studies to help with muscle pain as much as ibuprofen can.
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About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.