Home / Fitness / How to Relieve Post-Workout Muscle Soreness When You Can’t. Even. Walk
How to Relieve Post-Workout Muscle Soreness When You Can’t. Even. Walk.
Five all-natural tips to help ease your misery.
You know that on-top-of-the-world feeling you have after starting a new exercise routine in January? Whether you’re hitting the gym, the pool, or the great outdoors, there’s no better feeling than setting a fitness goal and achieving it.
There’s just one problem — your sore muscles post-workout are an absolute buzz kill. It’s been 1-2 days since your last sweat session, and you’re not sure you can get out of bed, much less pick up your kids or do a burpee!
- Walks upstairs: “Oh, my legs! Yeah. Good rock climbing sesh yesterday.”
- Puts on shoes: “Ahh, yep, okay, those deadlifts really did the trick!”
- Drops bobby pin: “Oh, bloody lunges! Nope. You can stay on the floor.”
Know the feeling?
In the fitness world, this all-too-common phenomenon is known as DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS develops after strenuous or unfamiliar activity. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 - 72 hours after a workout, but sometimes the pain is so severe that it can be mistaken for a muscle strain or an actual injury.
It seems unfair that agony is the reward for putting yourself through a tough workout. But in fact, DOMS can be a sign that you did something right during your sweat session!
So, what exactly causes DOMS?
“The whole idea of resistance training is that you're creating micro-tears in your muscles, so that they recover stronger and firmer," says Leah Hearle, a registered osteopath who treats sports injuries in top athletes.
DOMS suggests an elevation in intensity and the inclusion of new movements, both of which are great elements in an exercise program.
“Even trained athletes get DOMS when trying something new," says Leah.
After exercise, blood cells rush to the inflamed area to heal the micro-tears. “It's normal for that creaky can't-get-out-of-bed feeling to get worse before it gets better. But after 48 hours, you're definitely on the road to recovery,” explains Leah. So don’t worry — your body will get back to normal soon!
Did you know?
Performing 10 minutes of low-intensity cardio can be as effective as a stretching session? This could mean a jog that's slower than your usual running pace, pedalling on a stationary bike at an easy speed, or even walking on the treadmill.
(Center for Sports Performance, California State University)
What’s the best way to recover from DOMS?
Although DOMS is a natural process that indicates your body is getting stronger, there are some natural remedies you can try at home to reduce your discomfort (aka misery and constant complaining). Here are our top 5 tips:
1. Take an Epsom salt bath
Hands down, the best way to soothe tired muscles is by having a hot bath with Epsom salts (candles, bubbles and Netflix optional).Epsom salts are magical white crystals rich in magnesium sulphate, which is a natural muscle relaxant. The magnesium and salt work to pull fluid out of your tissues, thereby reducing swelling. So, next time you’re feeling a little worse for wear, hop into the tub and chill out for 20-30 minutes. Easy!
If you don’t own a bathtub (or don’t have the time to soak), applying magnesium topically is the next best thing. Using a magnesium spray, cream or roll-on gel is quick and easy and can be applied directly to your skin for rapid absorption. The best part? You can throw your magnesium lotion in your gym bag (or keep it in your car) and rub it into your muscles immediately after your workout. It’s a super convenient solution for recovery on the go!
Did you know when muscle temperature is increased, blood flow increases, bringing fresh oxygen and healing nutrients to your injured muscles? Yep! Increased circulation can also carry away toxins that result from trauma and improve tissue elasticity. Translation? Applying a heat pack to your sore spots for 20 minutes can help to reduce swelling and relax your muscles.
If you've recently exhausted yourself at the gym or conquered a big mountain hike, you might be tempted to reward yourself with a chocolate thick shake or a sugary iced tea. But water is the best thing you can drink to recover from exercise and aid in your long-term muscle health. For improved hydration, try adding a scoop of recovery powder with electrolytes. Not only will this give your water some natural flavour, but it will also replenish your body with vital nutrients lost during physical activity.
You may have heard personal trainers or fitness influencers raving about the benefits of foam rolling before. The practice is super trendy right now – and for good reason! Foam rolling immediately after your sweat session can help to increase blood flow, relieve muscle tension and reduce DOMS. Combine this with a recovery oil blend or a natural deep rub ointment, and you’ll reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain in no time!