What to Do for Really Sore Muscles After a Workout

You just completed an intense workout and now your muscles are really sore. What can you do to help relieve the pain and discomfort?

Warm Up and Cool Down

Warming up and cooling down after a workout is essential for preventing sore muscles. A proper warm-up will help to lubricate and relax your muscles, while a cool-down will help your body recover faster by aiding in the removal of lactic acid. By taking the time to warm up and cool down, you can reduce the risk of soreness and injury caused by a strenuous workout. Let’s explore the techniques you can use to master the warm up and cool down.

Stretch before and after your workout

Stretching before and after your workout can help your muscles recover from the stress of exercise. Before your workout, it’s important to get your body warm with some dynamic stretching. This will help reduce the risk of injury, improve performance, and increase circulation to the muscles you’ll be using. Dynamic stretches such as arm and leg circles, torso twists, side lunges, high knees, arm swings and hip circles are all good choices.

After a workout it is just as important to stretch out all muscle groups again with static stretching (in which you hold each stretch for 30 seconds). This helps return muscles to their original length, increase flexibility and decrease tightness. This can help soothe sore muscles and prevent possible injuries caused by strenuous activity. Popular post-workout static stretches include seated quadriceps stretches (such as bringing one foot up behind you), low back stretches (like the “cat-cow”), gluteal stretches, hamstrings stretch (such as lying on your back with one leg straight in the air) and shoulder shrugs.

Do dynamic warm-up exercises

Dynamic warm-up exercises prepare your muscles for a workout by getting them moving before you put a large load on them. Dynamic warm-up helps to prevent injuries such as strains, tears, or pulls. The following are some examples of dynamic warm-up exercises:

–Jumping jacks: This simple exercise will help to get the blood flowing and increase your heart rate.
–Lunges: Lunges will help to stretch out your legs, as well as work your core and balance muscles. If you need more of a challenge, add in some quick jumps between lunges.
–High knees: Run in place with slight knee lifts. Increase the speed to add some intensity and get those leg muscles firing before you start your workout.
–Arm rotations: Keep this one slow and controlled while rotating each arm in small circles at shoulder height level alternating sides.
–Side shuffles: Shuffle side to side while keeping feet slightly wider than hips and elbows bent at 90 degrees level with rib cage, engaging core throughout the entire motion

Doing these dynamic warm up exercises prepares your body for exercise by increasing your body temperature, loosening up your joints, and improving range of motion which can lead to improved performance during workouts and prevent injury or strain while exercising.

Use a foam roller

Foam rolling for muscle soreness is an essential part of post-workout recovery. Foam rollers release tension and break-up knots, which can help reduce muscle pain. They also increase blood flow to the area, helping to speed up healing and reduce stiffness. To use a foam roller properly, start by slowly rolling over each muscle group in short bursts of 10 – 20 seconds. Move slowly across the length of the muscle while applying gentle pressure and stop when you reach any painful areas. Hold on those spots for 15 – 30 seconds until you feel some relief or until the pain decreases. This can help to gradually break down adhesions or knots and may even improve your flexibility in that area. Make sure to spend time on both sides of your body if necessary, as this will help create a balance between each side.


One of the most effective treatments for sore muscles after a workout is massage. Massage can help to reduce inflammation, improve blood circulation and reduce muscle tension. Massaging the affected area will also help to loosen knots and adhesions and increase flexibility in the muscles. It is important to note that massage can be quite a painful experience, but the benefits it provides far outweigh any discomfort. Let’s look at some of the ways you can use massage to reduce muscle soreness.

Use a massage ball

One of the best ways to relieve soreness after a tough workout is to use a massage ball. This type of self-massage tool applies firm pressure to the desired muscle group, helping to release tension, increase blood circulation and reduce muscle pain. Massage balls come in a variety of sizes and materials, including hard foam sponges wrapped in plastic shells or soft plastic balls with embedded ridges.

Before using a massage ball, try some light stretching of the affected area first to reduce any pain or discomfort in moving your muscles. Apply gentle pressure on small areas of the muscle group by placing the ball directly on the location you want to work on. For instance, if you want to target your calves, roll your bare foot over a massage ball while seated or standing up. Move slowly around that area and stop if it becomes too painful or uncomfortable. Take sudden pauses so that your brain can acknowledge and accept pressure changes on that body part. You can adopt this approach for any tense area of your body such as your hips, arms and back.

Visit a massage therapist

Visiting a massage therapist for relief of sore muscles post-workout is highly recommended. Professional massage therapists can use their expertise to determine which type of massage technique will be the most beneficial for your particular needs. There are different kinds of massage techniques that can effectively target sore and tired muscles. Deep tissue massage, for example, uses firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. This can help to release specific areas where tension is held and reduce inflammation caused by intense exercise. Other modalities like swedish massaging incorporate more gentle stroke work to enhance blood circulation and provide deep relaxation. After a vigorous workout, your body needs time to recover, a visit to a professional massage therapist can be helpful in hastening the recovery process and restoring balance back into your system.

Try self-massage techniques

Self-massage techniques can be a great way to reduce muscle soreness after a hard workout session. Taking time to soothe and massage your muscles can help alleviate tension, promote circulation, relax the body, and help work out built-up areas of stress in your muscles.

You can use a foam roller or tennis ball for deeper self-massage. Foam rolling involves lying on the floor with the roller underneath you and slowly rolling over it in one direction until you find a sore or tight spot, then stop there for up to 30 seconds before continuing on. You can also try using a tennis ball as a massager by placing it between your skin and the ground or wall to find and press out tight areas of muscle.

Another technique is known as PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation), which is a stretching technique designed to increase range of motion and circulation in your joints while relieving any pain caused by overuse or training. For this technique you’ll need to identify any areas of tension in your body then apply light pressure with your hands or foam roller in order to increase flexibility and reduce soreness.

After improving blood flow and mobility through massage, try gentle stretches focusing on relaxing the muscles rather than pushing them too far at once — gradually work towards stretching further until you feel relaxed enough to do more challenging workouts that require more power and agility without putting yourself at risk of injury.


Hydrating your body after a strenuous workout is essential. Not only will it help your sore muscles recover, but it will also replenish the fluids and electrolytes you lose while sweating. Drinking water and other electrolyte-rich beverages are key to maintain your hydration levels and help recover from a strenuous workout. Aside from hydration, there are many other things you can do to relieve and soothe sore muscles.

Drink plenty of water

Drinking plenty of water can help reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery after a hard workout. Water helps to flush out toxins from the body and promote healthy hydration. Additionally, water helps to reduce inflammation in the muscles, which can work to decrease feelings of general soreness in the tissue.

It is recommended to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, but drinking even more is even better after strenuous physical activity such as exercise. Sports drinks are generally okay as a post-workout drink; however, some individuals may prefer to avoid them due to their additive contents and potentially high sugar content. Additionally, they may not be necessary if you have been drinking enough water throughout your workout session as well.

For best results, aim for a balance between plain water and other hydrating beverages such as coconut water or herbal teas with electrolytes. Keep in mind that dehydration can have many consequences on the body such as fatigue, headache, muscle cramps and a decrease in energy levels, so staying hydrated before or after workout sessions is particularly important for athletes.

Add electrolytes to your water

Electrolytes are essential minerals found in your blood and body fluids such as sodium and potassium that help to retain water and regulate body’s fluid balance. Replenishing electrolytes within the body can help you recover faster after a tough workout session. Adding electrolytes to your water is an effective way to hydrate yourself quickly and replenish lost electrolytes at the same time. Sports drinks or powders, such as Gatorade or Powerade, contain electrolytes which can be added to water for a quick hydration boost. You can also use natural foods sources like fruits, vegetables, and even honey to replenish lost electrolytes. Eating foods that are high in potassium such as bananas, kiwi fruits, oranges, coconut water, avocados, dark leafy greens will help maintain the balance of electrolyte levels in your body. Furthermore, drinking plenty of water regularly is the best way to stay hydrated throughout the day after a tough workout session.

Eat foods that are high in electrolytes

After an intense workout, it’s important to replace lost fluids and electrolytes with foods that are high in both. When your body has been under significant strain or stress, you’ll want to give it the fuel it needs to repair itself and get back into shape.
One of the best options is consuming a combination of foods that contain a good balance of carbohydrates and electrolytes, such as bananas and some salty snacks like pretzels or popcorn. To maximize the benefit, combine these snacks with other goodies that contain large amounts of water like fruits such as cucumbers, melons, oranges, strawberries and grapefruit. All these foods are naturally very hydrating and will provide the electrolyte boost you need to replenish your body after strenuous activity.

You can also add additional fluids – either from sports drinks versus plain water – if you feel like your electrolyte losses have been particularly high due to longer durations of exercise or intense physical exertion. Eating small meals throughout the day may also help maintain optimal levels of hydration by keeping your stomach topped off with the essential fluids needed for muscle recovery during those times when regular meals could be too much for your body to handle.


Rest is one of the most important things you can do for really sore muscles after a workout. It helps to give your body time to repair the muscle tissue that was damaged during the workout. Resting can help reduce inflammation, increase circulation and improve muscle recovery. Furthermore, getting adequate amounts of rest between workouts can help prevent excessive fatigue and the risk of injury.

Take a day off from your workout routine

It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to recover from a really tough workout is to take a day off or switch up the intensity level of your routine. That’s because sore muscles need time to heal and repair themselves, so by taking some time off, you’ll be giving your body enough rest to aid in the recovery process. Resting also helps reduce inflammation in the muscles and gives them time for muscle regeneration and growth.

If you’re feeling especially sore after intense workouts, it’s important not to push yourself too hard by continuing with your workout routine until all of the pain has gone away. Listening to your body is key during times like these; give yourself permission to take an active recovery day which may include light stretching, walking around or foam rolling. Other restorative activities that can provide relief for strained and inflamed muscles include soaking in an Epsom salt bath, yoga poses known for relaxation such as Child’s Pose, Pigeon Pose or Happy Baby Pose, and getting a good night’s sleep with sufficient rest.

Get plenty of sleep

Getting enough sleep each night is essential to helping your body repair and recover from the hard work you put it through during your workout. Muscles need time to rest and heal, and it’s best for them to do so without any distractions. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, or even more if you can manage it. Additionally, you should strive to maintain a regular sleeping routine: going to bed and waking up at consistent times can help reset the body’s natural circadian rhythm and optimize when we feel sleepy or alert. During deep stages of sleep is when the most muscle growth occurs, so aim for at least 4-5 cycles of sleep throughout the night.

Consider taking an Epsom salt bath

An Epsom salt bath can be used to both relax sore muscles and reduce inflammation. Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate, which helps decrease muscle inflammation and stiffness. To use an Epsom salt bath for muscle soreness, dissolve a couple of cups of the salts in a tub of warm water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Be sure to read all package instructions before using.

Another way to treat sore muscles after working out is with a yoga practice that incorporates stretching and relaxation poses. Yoga is well-known for its restorative benefits, helping to reduce stress and tension in your body while increasing flexibility and circulation. If you are not familiar with yoga, consider signing up for a yoga class or watching online tutorials that provide instruction on how to become relaxed through yogic practices such as breathing exercises, relaxation poses, Sun Salutations, Vinyasa flow sequences, meditation and Savasana (the final pose in yoga). Combining an Epsom salt bath with stretching through yoga can greatly reduce muscle discomfort after strenuous physical activity.

Treat Soreness

Exercise can be a great way to stay healthy and strengthen your muscles, but it can also leave you with some soreness. Fortunately, there are several ways to treat soreness after a workout. From taking a hot bath to performing gentle stretching, there are many ways that can be used to reduce muscle soreness. Taking a few extra steps after a workout can make all the difference in helping your muscles recover faster.

Use an ice pack

Icing sore muscles after a workout is a simple and effective way to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Applying an ice pack, or even a bag of frozen vegetables, directly to the affected area is generally the most efficient means of delivering cold therapy. It is important to take care when applying an ice pack, however. It’s recommended to apply it for no more than 15 minutes before taking a break of at least 45 minutes, as placing ice directly on the skin can cause tissue damage if left in place too long. Additionally, it’s important not to use an ice pack until 48 hours after your workout as this will do more harm than good. If you experience swelling or need additional relief after that two-day window has passed, use a damp cloth or warm compress instead.

Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory

If the soreness persists and becomes intense, you can take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to reduce inflammation and discomfort. Be sure to follow the package directions to limit your dosage and avoid extended use. You want to avoid using more than is necessary as these medications might cause stomach ulcers or other gastrointestinal problems if taken chronically in high doses.

Other over-the-counter remedies like capsaicin gel or menthol patches may provide temporary relief. Again, check with your doctor before use.

Be aware that taking any medication for muscle pain could interfere with muscle repair if used excessively. A better option might be to wait until after the workout is done and then stretch the areas that are sore. Stretching can help loosen tight muscles, reduce muscle spasms and decrease pain in sore muscles.

Try topical pain relief creams or gels

Topical pain relief creams and gels are a simple, effective way to reduce soreness after a workout. These topical formulations are designed to reduce inflammation and can provide immediate relief. Most contain menthol for cooling sensation as well as ingredients that can provide deep, penetrating heat when rubbed into the skin. They also contain natural remedies such as arnica, capsaicin, and white willow bark extract, which when combined with conventional over-the-counter medications can work to reduce activity-related muscle pain. Be sure read all directions for use before using these products and follow the instructions provided on the label. Some products like icy hot or tiger balm may be too intense for some people so if symptoms are continuing after using them twice in one day consider a gentler solution such as Tiger’s Balm or long time favorite Aspercreme. Many topical pain relief gels and creams have been shown to help reduce soreness but always pay attention to your body’s responses while using them; if your symptoms worsen after using one of these remedies then stop using it right away an see a doctor if necessary.

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