How to Prevent Sore Muscles
Knowing how to prevent sore muscles will save you a lot of pain. We’ve all been, on the day after a hard workout, barely able to walk from the pain of sore muscles. It usually sets in between 24 and 48 hours after a workout or other strenuous activity and can range from mild discomfort to real pain. However, there are plenty of preventative steps and post-workout treatments that can minimize the occurrence and severity of sore muscles.
- Start slowly. While starting a new a workout regimen is exciting, overdoing it is the most surefire way to wind up with sore muscles the day after- and possibly even the day after that. So while you may be super motivated to jump right in, start with a light to moderate session when you begin any new workout routine or take on a new activity, and work up to sustaining longer times and harder rates.
- Warm up and cool down. To prevent sore muscles, warm up your body with roughly five minutes of light cardio activity. This could be a brisk walk to the gym, or just a slow jog before you begin running. Even when you’re weight training, jump on a treadmill for five minutes to get the blood flowing through your body, which can reduce the potential for sore muscles later. Similarly, allow your body to cool down after working out by putting in 10 minutes of light cardio like jogging or biking.
- Stretch! Stretching immediately after working out is important to prevent or minimize the potential sore muscles. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends stretching after workouts, since static stretching before a workout may make muscles more susceptible to strains or pulls. However, post-workout stretching is encouraged to increase flexibility and to decrease muscle soreness. Stretch every major muscle group, holding the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds without bouncing.
Drink up! Hydration has an effect on nearly every aspect of your workout, from giving your body the ability to perform at its peak to helping to regulate your body temperature. Drinking water while working out can also prevent muscle cramps and soreness.
- Hit the gym. If the damage has already been done and your sore muscles are aching and stiff, try a light workout. It may be the last thing in the world you want to do, but putting your muscles back in motion has been proven to relieve pain by getting your blood flowing and stimulating endorphins. Start with light aerobic exercise for 10-15 minutes, and continue if you feel able to complete your workout.
- Get rubbed down. Multiple studies have proven that massage can ease the pain of sore muscles by helping to move fluids out, resulting a reduction of swelling…in case you needed an excuse!
- Heat things up. Heat can work to soothe the pain of muscle soreness by stimulating your circulation. However, because it also promotes inflammation, try waiting for a few hours after your workout before applying a heating pad, or better yet, jumping into the hot tub.
- Consult the medicine cabinet. Ibuprofen is an effect pain remedy for muscle soreness, although some people report better results taking it before they work out, while others have more success taking it afterward. Follow the directions on the bottle for dosing instructions, and try taking it before some workouts and after others to see which works best for you.
- Stick with it! No matter what, don’t let muscle soreness deter you from adopting a workout plan! Soreness will subside as you get more accustomed to the activity, and the long benefits will compensate for any short term pain.