Natural Ways to Ease Post-Workout Sore Muscles

Aly Walansky

woman working out

Sometimes a great workout leaves an unfortunate parting gift — sore muscles! We want to stay fit and feel (and look!) our best, but if the post-workout soreness leaves us feeling terrible, it’s counteractive! We asked the experts how to avoid and help the soreness before it becomes an issue.

Yoga: Anytime Fitness’ Director of Exercise Program, Shannon Fable, shares several active yoga poses that are great for sore muscles post workout. If you are a runner, try the runner’s lunge pose. This stretch is extremely beneficial for runners as hip flexor muscles tighten (especially when running on ice) during the constant forward motion associated with jogging. From forward fold, step your right leg back. Bring your hands down next to your left leg which should remain at a 90-degree angle. Hold this stretch for about 20-30 seconds and switch to your right leg. A pose like pyramid pose (standing leg forward fold) is perfect for loosening up sore hamstrings and IT bands. It strengthens and loosens the back and entire leg. Also try happy baby pose: Settle into this pose to gently open the hip joints, stretch the inner groins, and massage the spine. Bonus: Gently rock side to side to get a nice back massage.

Icing: Using an ice pack after a workout can facilitate injury prevention by reducing inflammation in the body before it causes tissue damage. Although is especially important after long or strenuous workout sessions, if you have time you should really ice after every workout.  If you engage in high impact exercise, such as squash or running, experts recommend using cold therapy for 15 to 20 minutes after each session. You can ice as much as 15 to 20 minutes every hour. You should ice anything that feels swollen.

“Ice baths reduce inflammation, which expedites the healing process. If the ice bath is too cold for your liking, try cycling the temperature of the water during your post-workout shower. One minute cold, followed by two minutes warm for 10-12 minute alternations,” says Stacy Adams, Certified Personal Trainer & Certified Nutrition Consultant/owner of Fitness Together of Central Georgetown.

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Use a foam roller: “Rolling on a foam roller is like a self-massage when you can’t get in to see a massage therapist, and is excellent for muscle recovery after intense work outs. It breaks up tight muscle fibers to assist in muscle warm-up and recover, keeping the muscles more supple!” says former Rockette and Dancers Shape barre fitness studio owner Jennifer McCamish. See it demonstrated in this Livestrong video!

Watch what you eat — and drink: “Drink plenty of alkaline water. That should be filtered pH+ water. Do this before, during, and after your workout,” says supermodel Carol Alt, host of the new show on Fox News, A Healthy You & Carol Alt.

“I like a light meal within one hour of a workout like chicken or fish paired with broccoli. The protein is imperative for muscle recovery and broccoli is a super food that fights cancers and contains excellent fiber,” says McCamish.

Take a day off: Most people don’t realize what an issue overtraining can be. Your muscles need to recover to be able to work to their full potential again. The body needs time to repair and strengthen itself. “If you see or feel signs of general discomfort, boredom, depression, decreased performance ability, or potential injury, you are probably overtraining and in great need of a day off or two,” says  fitness expert Sara Haley.

Image via Mike Kemp/Getty Images

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