We’ve all been there: Yesterday you crushed a tough workout at the gym and then woke up with stiff, aching muscles. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is pretty common and the good news is that pain usually means your muscles are getting stronger. The bad news? Even if you exercise regularly, the can’t-sit-down-or-lift-my-arms-up muscle soreness may set you back a bit.
Here are five easy ways you can alleviate that DOMS on your own:
While this may seem like an obvious solution, most of us are guilty of not drinking enough water throughout the day. Remembering to hydrate properly is essential for proper bodily functions and it can help prevent muscle tightness. Seriously. If there’s not enough water and electrolytes in the body, your muscles will become tight, tender and easily injured. Solution? Drink water! A healthy adult male should consume approximately 3 liters a day. Note: That 3 liters a day doesn’t only need to be water. You can also rehydrate with beverages that contain water, such as juice, sports drinks and milk.
Apply ice or heat
That’s right, either cooling or heating your sore muscles can help bring you some immediate relief by reducing inflammation and swelling. Applying heat to warm up sore muscles will help get your blood vessels to dilate and will help those tightened muscles relax. Applying cold to your sore muscles does the exact opposite—it causes the blood vessels to constrict, thereby reducing blood flow, which can cut down on inflammation.
Take a pain reliever or try topical treatments
Taking a dose of Tylenol or Ibuprofen can help relieve your aches and pains, but topical treatments such as gels and creams may be a more soothing option to help temporarily alleviate sore muscles. Voltaren Emugel helps reduces inflammation, relieve pain (thanks to its active ingredient diclofenac) and can help speed up your body’s natural healing process. Plus, unlike most over-the-counter creams and gels, Voltaren’s mild scent disappears fast as the non-greasy emulsion gel quickly penetrates the skin targeting sore, inflamed areas.
Rest in moderation
Give your sore body a break—but don’t just stay in bed or parked on the sofa watching Netflix for weeks. In fact, being lazy could make things worse. Take it easy, but make sure you maintain some level of activity. As you start to feel better and your muscles start to let you move more freely, continue to increase your activity until you are back to normal.
Gentle stretching and light massage
When sore muscles are in recovery mode they tend to tighten up. Don’t dive back into your gym routine because you’ll only make things worse. Instead… try stretching the area. Gentle stretching will help relieve that tight feeling and help to diffuse the pain. Next step? Massaging sore muscle can also help reduce tightness while promoting blood flow, which in turn helps speed recovery.