Exercise is a crucial part of leading a healthy lifestyle, but it doesn’t come without its difficulties. When you exercise, you put your muscles through some pretty intense movements, and more often than not, those movements can leave your body sore and aching. Even the best athletes in the world have recovery days for their sore muscles.
So, what can you do about it?
We know that quitting exercise is out of the question, but thankfully, there are some incredibly useful recovery techniques that you can utilize to get your sore muscles back to 100%. From active recovery techniques to the benefits of temperature therapies, we rounded up a few great ways to keep your muscles in tip-top shape. So the next time you have sore muscles after a workout, take a read-through of this article and figure out the best step you can take towards muscle relaxation.
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Why Do Muscles Get Sore?
No matter how experienced of an athlete you are, a day or two after a workout, you’re bound to feel soreness in the muscle groups you worked on most recently. This phenomenon is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and it’s a fairly universal experience.
When you exercise, you put your muscles to the test, and often, you work them harder than they are used to. To handle this increased workload, your muscle fibers have to endure microscopic tears or mild muscle strains! Then, 24 to 48 hours later, you feel the full effects of these micro-tears, resulting in muscle pain and soreness.
When it comes to DOMS, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that DOMS rarely lasts longer than 72 hours and will always go away eventually! The bad news is that there’s not much you can do to avoid DOMS in the first place. Fortunately, that’s where our muscle fixing techniques come in!
How To Help Sore Muscles
To get your muscles to a better place, you’ll need to figure out what kind of pain your muscle is in. For example, if you have acute injuries or severe pain, you should seek medical aid rather than trying to deal with it yourself. However, if your aches and pains feel pretty standard, try a couple of these solutions.
Probably the easiest step you can take to reduce muscles soreness is hydrating! You should always drink plenty of water during any physical activity, but the water shouldn’t stop there. Make sure you drink water before and after your workout to give your body the hydration it needs.
When your muscles are aching, it can be tempting to dig into them and get a deep tissue massage. Unfortunately, deep tissue massages won’t do much for your muscles after a workout, so try a gentler form of massage instead. If you’re at home, foam rolling is an easy way to get a gentle massage on most muscles.
Even though you might not want to in the moment, stretching can and will fix your sore muscles in the long run. You can find stretching routines to target your aching muscles after every workout, but only stretching post-workout won’t give you the best results. Instead, try to develop a daily stretching routine, as well as stretching after a workout. Stretching daily will increase the flexibility and durability of your muscles, which cuts down your future muscles soreness!
Stretching, hydrating, and massaging your muscles are all good practices to put in place, but sometimes, they just can’t give you the relief you need. Here’s where temperature therapy comes in! You can use heat or ice for sore muscles, depending on the recency of your workout and what kind of pain you feel!
Immediately after your workout, you should focus on Cold Therapy treatments like cold water tubs, cold compresses, and ice packs. Focusing on cold therapy first will help you reduce inflammation in your muscles while also providing some numbing relief. For small areas in need of ice, apply a cold compress for no longer than 20 minutes. To target the entire body, try a cold plunge, but only for 2-5 minutes!
After the first day or two of sore muscles, you can make the switch to Heat Therapy treatments, including hot tubs, heating packs, and saunas. Apply heat on stiff or painful areas, and read up on some moist heat therapy techniques to get the most out of your thermotherapy!
If you really want to get fancy with your temperature therapy, you can do a combination hot/cold therapy! This therapy consists of switching between hot and cold temperatures for a few cycles. When your body gets cold, your blood vessels dilate, reducing blood flow to preserve your heat. When you heat back up again, your blood vessels expand, increasing blood flow! By switching back and forth between the two, you can help improve your circulation, bring better blood to your muscles, and aid your recovery.
When it’s all said and done, there’s no perfect solution to sore muscles; and that’s ok! Sore muscles are the sign of a good workout, and they’re perfectly natural. Focus on being gentle with your body and these few recovery techniques, and you’ll be good as new in no time.
No More Sore Muscles
After your next workout, why not try a cold plunge? Our Plunge tubs are designed to give you a quick, convenient, and therapeutic cold tub experience! Build up a regimen of daily cold plunges, or get some relief for your aching muscles.
Check out our blog for more tips and tricks on cold therapy and your body, or visit our FAQ page to learn more about our plunge tubs.