If you work out or do strenuous physical activities like lifting weights, swimming, long-distance biking, or running, you will likely experience muscle soreness. When you exercise you create damage to your muscles. While you will get stronger after the muscle repairs and the soreness will go away, the soreness can still be discomforting in the meantime. Muscles need about 24-48 hours to repair themselves after a workout, and if you use the same muscle groups again without letting them recover, you may cause tissue repair and prevent muscle building.
The good news is that you can take steps to reduce muscle soreness and maximize muscle recovery which will reduce your wait time until your next workout or physical activity.
Here are nine effective ways to reduce muscle soreness:
1. Get a Massage
A light massage after exercising can reduce future pain from the delayed onset of muscle soreness. Based on a recent study, massage therapy effectively relieves muscle soreness after a workout when already sore as well. It can also help recovery by easing inflammation and relieving tightness and swelling of the muscles through pressure.
2. Try Compression Garments
Wearing compression garments on various body parts after a workout has become popular with athletes over the past few decades because they are known to help speed up muscle recovery and increase performance. Research has shown that compression garments have moderate effects in reducing the severity of delayed onset of muscle soreness but more effectively enhance recovery from muscle damage.
The light pressure acts similar to a low-level massage which, as we mentioned before, is effective at reducing muscle soreness. Compression garments also raise the temperature of the skin and surrounding tissues which increases blood flow and promotes muscle healing.
3. Use Contrast Water Therapy
Using contrast water therapy has been found to help reduce muscle soreness after a strenuous workout. Contrast therapy involves alternately submerging your body in ice-cold water and then warm water. The contrast bath is recommended for a total of 15 minutes, starting and ending with cold water.
When you dip your body in warm water, your blood vessels dilate. On the other side, cold water causes the vessels to contract. The temperature change caused by the alternate contraction and dilation stimulates your blood vessels and helps to reduce swelling and inflammation.
4. Try Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy is any treatment that involves using freezing or near-freezing temperatures such as an ice bath. You might think sitting in an ice-cold tub to recover from sore muscles is odd, but ice baths for athletes are trending for a reason. Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec found this out himself when he tried the Cold Plunge on an episode of ABC’s Shark Tank and quickly changed from shocked to really enjoying the experience.
While regular ice bathing can be time-consuming to set up and clean up, and difficult to get the right temperature, the revolutionary Cold Plunge tub saves you time and allows you to set your perfect temperature. It also easily drains to save you time and backache. You can get the full benefits of a cold immersion by following the step-by-step cold exposure protocols.
5. Stay Hydrated
The easiest way to reduce muscle pain is to drink water while working out and increase your daily water intake in general. Water energizes your muscles and helps recover muscle soreness and tension. A recommended guideline is to drink two cups of fluid before the training and 4-6 ounces every 15-20 minutes during the physical activity. If you get dehydrated, water releases from your tissues and worsens chronic muscle and joint pains. That’s why it is always important to stay hydrated, especially if you often participate in physical activities.
6. Eat Protein Before and After Working Out
Protein protects your muscles and gives you the building blocks to build new muscle tissues. This is because when broken down, protein becomes amino acids which are essential in muscle building. Great sources of protein include lean meats, tofu, lentils, fish, beans, and nuts.
When you consume protein is important. Protein is known to help improve athletic and muscle performance when consumed before a workout. Protein consumption before training also has other benefits, including enhanced muscle recovery, increased strength, lean body mass, and helps in muscle growth.
After a workout, consuming an adequate amount of protein can help repair the damaged fiber muscles during physical activity. Recommended protein intake after a workout is 0.14-.023 grams per pound of your body weight.
7. Eat Protein Before Bed
As we just mentioned, protein promotes muscle recovery which still happens while you are sleeping. While you're asleep, your body goes into Muscle Protein Breakdown (MPB) just like it does when you exercise. So by eating protein before bed, your muscles repair themselves more easilty as you sleep, and the growth hormone is elevated.
8. Skip the Alcohol and Tobacco
You may also want to forgo alcohol and tobacco while your muscles are recovering. Alcohol consumption interferes with myofibrillar protein synthesis or MPS, which is related to the recovery and growth of skeletal muscles. Following your workout, MPS is significantly elevated so any alcohol in your system may hinder muscle recovery and regeneration.
Smoking tobacco is dangerous in general to anyone's health and especially when trying to recover from a workout. The nicotine and carbon monoxide released by smoking may make your blood sticky and narrow your arteries which reduces the blood flow to your heart, muscles, and body organs, making it hard to exercise. Tar from cigarettes collects in the airways and limits your air intake, decreasing oxygen supply. As a result, your muscles may begin to starve for oxygen, leading to low endurance too.
9. Get More Sleep
Sleep is a powerful tool for muscle building and preventing a delayed onset of muscle soreness because your body produces muscle-building chemicals when you're asleep. Aim for at least seven hours or more of sleep to help your muscles recover from a workout. According to a study, athletes need 8.3 hours of sleep to feel rested. Sleep deprivation is known to activate higher levels of inflammation which inhibits recovery.
Consider cold plunging after your evening workouts for more restful sleep. A study found that athletes who cold plunged after an evening workout had fewer nighttime arousals and experienced more time in deep sleep. The Cold Plunge tub is quick and easy to set up so you can fill up, get in, get out, and get back to other things in no time.
Upgrade your at-home recovery routine
Cold plunging is one of the top recommended ways to reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery. You can set up a regular tub with water and ice, but if you want to take ice baths frequently and more efficiently, the Cold Plunge is your best option. Just fill up your Cold Plunge with water, turn it on, set the temperature, and relieve those sore muscles with immersion. Don’t forget to take advantage of our FREE cold plunge protocols for your most effective ice bathing experience.