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8 Ways to Minimize Post-Exercise Muscle Soreness

July 20, 2011

We’ve all experienced it: the soreness in our muscles after exercising. Usually it’s at it’s worse about two days after you’ve exercised.

And it doesn’t matter if you went swimming or played five hours of basketball. At some point you will get sore.

What Causes Post-Exercise Muscle Soreness?

The general consensus is that this soreness is a result of tiny tears in your muscle fibers. How bad the tears are depends on how long and hard you worked out and what type of exercise you did.

Basically, any movement that’s new to your body will cause post-exercise muscle soreness.

The exercises that seem to cause the worst pain are those exercises like downhill running, squats and push ups where eccentric muscle contractions are involved. In other words, movements that cause muscles to forcefully contract while it lengthens.

In some cases a small amount of swelling may occur also.

So how do you manage this post-exercise soreness–whether you get it from a hard work out or competition? Try the following methods to minimize the impact of soreness on your muscles.

How to Minimize Post-Exercise Muscle Soreness

1. Low-Impact Recovery. Immediately after a tough workout or competition, perform some really light-impact exercise to increase the blood flow in the areas of your body most impacted. If you’re a sprinter, this might mean jogging around slowly. Body builder? Same exercises but with about a tenth of the weight.

2. Rest and Recover. Left alone, soreness will go away in about 4 to 7 days. Can’t wait that long. Then try the following methods.

3. Get a Massage. But not just any type of massage. Find a massage therapists who specialize in sports massages. They’ll understand your particular needs. This is a favorite of marathoners.

4 Sink into an Ice Bath. Evidence doesn’t exist to demonstrate whether this truly works or not but hundreds of professional athletes swear by this treatment. Give it a shot. .

5. Apply R.I.C.E. The standard sports injury method, RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. In that particular order.

6. Stretch. A gentle stretch won’t make the soreness go away but it will feel good.

7. Take an Anti-inflammatory. While ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen sodium won’t actually heal your minor injury, but it will minimize the soreness. Take about 800 milligrams after you exercise and any time soreness occurs.

8. Do Yoga. No evidence that yoga will actually heal your injury or even reduce the soreness, but like stretching it will make it feel good, if only temporarily.

When Can I Exercise Again?

After a rough work out or competition you might want to think about taking the next day or two off. After that, warm up completely before your next exercise session and take it slowly. Never try to achieve the same level of performance until you’ve given your body adequate time to heal. Otherwise you may end up with a chronic and painful sports injury that may sideline you for a long time.

Now, if your soreness continues after seven days or increases in spite of trying the above methods, contact your doctor.

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