Sore muscles happen to all of us at some point or another. Some people experience sore muscles more frequently than others. Whether it was from an intense workout, a spur of the moment weekend adventure, or a let’s tackle this yard or house project all at once, you are bound to feel the aches, pains, and stiffness for the next couple of days. Sore muscles are probably the number one reason most of my clients come to see me, followed closely by stress reduction, headaches, and overall wellness and maintenance.
I know that I can speak for myself when I can say that I cannot even count the number of times where going up and down flights of stairs has been a challenge, and even putting on my shirt in the morning is a struggle. Between doing strength training, Pilates, massaging clients, and of course playing with and walking my dog, I live a very active life. With being so active, I often find that my muscles become stiff and sore. So how do I bounce back to make sure that I can keep giving my clients the massages they need and deserve? Well, besides the obvious of getting a wonderful massage from one of my many fellow Licensed Massage Therapists, I have several at home self-care remedies that I rely on to help me bounce back faster.
Roll it out with a foam roller and/or a lacrosse ball. A foam roller is great for all the major muscles groups that may be feeling sore or tight and is easy to just roll around on the floor. I also love using a lacrosse ball to get the smaller areas such as the feet, the upper back between your spine and shoulder blade (Rhomboids), your pecs (although it can be quite painful), and I also love to use my hands to roll the ball around on my hip flexors. Tennis balls are great to use, too.
Soak it. If you have access to a tub that you can soak in, use it! Fill the tub up with warm or hot water to your desired preference of comfort and pour several cups of Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) into it. Try to soak in the tub for 15 to 20 minutes. Both the heat and the dissolved Epsom Salts have an amazingly soothing, and sore muscle relieving, effects.
Apply topical ointments and gels. I prefer to use Biofreeze after a tough workout on my sore, or potentially sore, muscles. There are other similar products that people love to use (Tiger Balm, IcyHot, Salon Pas, etc.), but this is my number one go to that has been successful for me. The cool menthol gel quickly cools the area you apply it too, then gradually warms back up, giving your muscles that nice alternating of cold and hot hydrotherapy effect. The cooling down reduces inflammation, and then the warmth helps bring back the blood flow to help heal the area in need. I also have relied on Arnica for helping to reduce any swelling and to help get me through the days that I do not want to smell like menthol.
Load up on protein and water. To put it simply, when you exercise, you are effectively tearing and breaking muscle fibers apart, which then need to be repaired by the body, requiring protein to do so. Your body uses protein all day, so when you exert your muscles even more, you need to up your protein intake to help fuel and repair your muscles. Water is also very important, as your muscles become dehydrated when you work out, thus you need to increase the amount of water you consume to rehydrate those muscles, keeping them filled with healthy fluids, and reducing tension and soreness in your muscles.
Consume fish oil. We do not consume enough Omega-3 fatty acids in our diets naturally. Consuming high potency fish oil can help us fill in that gap. Fish oil is known to be an anti-inflammatory, helping to reduce sore muscles and to keep your joints lubricated. (You may want to consult with your doctor or nutritionist about the dosage that may be appropriate for you and to make sure you do not have any other health conditions you need to be aware of when adding supplements.)
Stretch it out. Take the time to stretch your sore muscles out. Sore muscles are often compressed and need to be lengthened again. Spend 10 minutes doing various stretches on the particular sore muscle group. Or if you have more time, spend some time stretching out surround muscles groups as well. Remember the hip bone is connected to the back bone, etc. If one muscle group is sore, it could be pulling on other muscles nearby. Doing a full body stretching routine once a day can go a long way in easing muscle soreness and promote recovery faster as well.
These are my quick go to home remedies to help reduce muscle soreness and to bounce back faster. No one likes to walk and move around stiffly and in pain for days on end after exerting themselves with physical activities. Try to be proactive with your recovery within the first 48 hours of working your muscles to help reduce the muscle soreness. If you can, even schedule a massage in there to have a professional help work those sore and tight muscles out.