Sore muscles are kind of a way of life when you do lots of exercise. No matter how much you stretch, warm up, and cool down, you’re going to feel a bit achy the day after lifting heavy weights, running 15 miles, or taking your intense Yoga class. If your muscles are a little bit sore, it’s an indication that you’re doing something right.
Now, if the soreness persists past a day or two, it’s usually an indication that you’re doing something wrong. Your muscles should be sore for a long time, once you’ve gotten over the initial soreness. If they are sore, here’s what to do:
Give Yourself a Day of Stretching
If you’ll look at workout programs like the P90X, you’ll notice that there’s an entire day given over to stretching your muscles. A day of very sore muscles can cause you to slow down, so why push your body harder than necessary? Instead of pushing too hard, give your muscles a day off, and spend time stretching them.
You’ll find that initially your muscles are going to resist being stretched. They’re going to be a bit achy, and you’ll have a hard time settling into each stretch. Don’t worry, but give the muscles time to relax and loosen up. Once you get them stretched and warm, the soreness will go away.
Take an Ice Bath
An ice bath sounds like a terrible idea, and the truth is that it can be supremely painful. However, you’ll find that it’s excellent for your body, particularly your sore muscles. You can take a bath where only your lower half is submerged in water, as that will help to reduce soreness in your legs. If your arms and shoulders are hurting, dunk them in the ice water.
It’s going to be cold – make no mistake about it. However, the cold bath will reduce the swelling in your muscles, effectively eliminating the soreness the same way an ice pack reduces swelling in an injured ankle or knee.
If you don’t have the cojones to jump right into an ice bath, take a bath in cool water. Once you’re used to the temperature, add a bit of ice into the tub. Keep adding more until the temperature of the water is ice cold. It will be easier if you get used to it like this, but some people just prefer to hit the ice water cold turkey-style.
Do Hot/Cold Showers
The ice bath may sound a bit extreme to some, but the shower can be useful as an alternative. Turn on the hot water until it’s as hot as you can stand, and then turn it down to a mild lukewarm. Once you’re used to it, turn off the hot completely so the water is totally cold. Stand in the cold flow as long as you can, and turn it back to mildly hot.
Fiddle with the knobs on your shower to change the temperature of the water, and it will act like a hot and cold pack on your muscles. It will help to flush out any lactic acid – making it much easier for you to recover from your intense workout the previous day.
Get a Massage
Deep tissue massage can be a bit dangerous if not done properly, but it’s not a bad idea to visit a spa once every month or so to get a full body Swedish or Thai massage. You can massage your own muscles to help alleviate the soreness, and you’ll find that a simple manipulation of the muscles will help to ease the pain surprisingly effectively!