5 Natural Ways to Ease Post-Exercise Muscle Soreness
Photo Credit: Smoobs/ Creative Commons
An effective workout often leads to sore muscles. I like to tell my clients that this is a reminder that they received value out of all their hard work in the gym. Some people think that when they get sore that they are too out of shape for exercise and it discourages them from working out regularly. However, mild muscle tenderness is helpful feedback for your body that it worked hard enough to make positive changes. Excessive soreness is a sign you should scale back the number of repetitions, the amount of weight you lift, or the total time spent working out.
Whether you have been exercising for years or are just starting up, feeling sore indicates the muscles fibers had to do something they weren’t used to and this process makes them stronger over time. As uncomfortable as being sore can be when washing your hair or walking up stairs, it’s important to take advantage of simple ways to alleviate it so you can continue to be active on a consistent basis.
1. Arnica. This popular homeopathic can be used externally in the form of creams or massage oils, and can be taken internally using common homeopathic remedies. I have found both applications helpful for easing muscles aches and pains. Arnica has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of trauma, soreness, and bruising -- whether due to an accident or from over-exertion.
2. Epsom salt. These naturally occurring minerals, officially known as magnesium sulfate, are well known for relieving muscle soreness. Add 2 cups of Epsom salts to your bath and soak for at least 15 minutes. The magnesium sulfate is readily absorbed into your body through the skin, and flushes toxins, reduces inflammation, and encourages your muscle fibers to heal.
3. Reduce inflammation. The body is designed to heal naturally when inflammed by activating anti-inflammation measures. However, poor lifestyle choices and chronic stress prevent the body from successfully reducing inflammation when needed. Eating more omega-3 fatty acids from fish, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts as well as incorporating relaxation techniques and getting adequate sleep can do wonders to support your body to anti-inflame without the use of over the counter medications like ibuprofen.
4. Remember to fuel. Keep your body well hydrated before exercising, as well as afterwards. Look to consume about 8-10 cups of water or other sugar and additive-free beverages like herbal tea per day. Eat protein-rich foods, which contain the necessary amino acids (also known as building blocks) to refuel and rebuild your muscles.
5. Just move. As hard as it might be to walk or lift your arms, the best course of treatment for soreness is to get moving again. Incorporate some light stretching and enjoy moderate exercise in the form of walking, swimming, or yoga to get your system moving. Gentle movement activates the lymph system, which will push the toxins and chemical by-products that caused the soreness and get it out of your body quicker.
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