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Best Pain Relievers For Sore Muscles After Workout

Nowadays, it’s so common to find someone, to find you, wanting to get into that one dress, that one shirt for a long time. And you work out regularly and consistently, without skipping gym days at any cost. However, one day, your workout sessions leave your muscles really sore, forcing you to call in sick from your office and skip your workout session that day, followed by another couple of missed sessions. And your dream of wearing that piece of garment on your birthday now completely seems like a dream.

But that should not be the story, right? Where did the happy ending go?

To ensure that this does not happen to you, and to help stiff and sore muscles, all sorts of pain relievers are available today. While some actually help with the pain, many end up useless So it is essential to make an informed decision about the kind of pain reliever that you go to, something that suits your body and skin and does not have any anti effects. But before delving into that, it is necessary to take a step back, and exactly understand the reasons behind your sole muscles, to check if the pain can be eliminated without buying a pain reliever.

Causes of sore muscles

Sore muscles can be caused by a lot of activities- from doing household chores to actual workout sessions.

  • Changing workout pattern: Suddenly kicking up your exercise intensity level or increasing the length of your workout, is another common reason behind getting sore muscles, after working out.
  • Trying new workout exercises: When you do some unusual exercises that lengthen instead of shortening your muscle, like walking downhill or extending your arm during a bicep curl, it can easily make your muscles feel sore as well.
  • Doing an unusually strenuous Activity: Sore muscles also happen when you do something out of the ordinary for your body, like running a marathon when you normally jog just a few miles.

There are many other reasons, other than the ones mentioned above, that are likely to give you sore muscles. Overall, changes to your exercise routine, be it of any kind, can lead to tiny injuries in your muscle fibers and connective tissue, which makes you feel sore, maybe not instantly but a day later.

However, when you do the same activity again, your muscles will start to get used to it. Therefore, you will actually be dealing with no soreness or comparatively less soreness because now you have allowed your muscles to adjust to the particular activity, and the process has also strengthened the muscle or connective tissue.

Easy guidelines to ease sore muscles

If yesterday’s workout is making your muscles scream today, it is said to be a good sign., because you most likely have “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS), and it means you worked hard enough to create tiny tears in your muscle fibers

Many instant remedies have now come up, to help you relieve the pain of your sole muscles, easily, without the help of others. These can be done at home conveniently, without the purchase of any extra products or equipment.

However, you should always prefer to check in with your doctor if your pain feels severe, and equivalent to as if you have injured yourself, and/or your sole muscles last for more than a few days.

  • Constant movement: Keep moving, even if you want to cling to the sofa while your muscles recover. Movement is the key to making your body feel better. The trick is to do something light and gentle, maybe a swim, or a bike ride, for an hour or so. Some even recommend yoga to get your muscles back to normal.
  • Adequate rest and sleep: Some rest days are essential if you have been overworking your body. Taking a day off gives your body a chance to repair itself and replenishes your energy. It is suggested to go for light exercise the day after a heavy workout, then take off the next day, for the best returns. Sleeping also gives your body a chance to shut down after your intense day and helps your sore muscles relax.
  • Massage: Massage can relieve muscle tension, boost blood flow, and increase the range of motion in your joints. Additionally, it is proven to be a great mood-lifter, as well. So, when your muscles feel sore, choosing a gentle massage is said to be the best option. It is better to go for one that uses light pressure, like a Swedish massage, which is better for muscle recovery, rather than a deep-tissue massage. You can also try tender-point acupressure, in which a massage therapist applies pressure and holds it directly on the tender areas, which gives you an instant relief effect. These techniques are most effective when performed 48 hours after exercise.
  • Ice pack: Many feel confused about using heat or ice to nurse their sore muscles. Experts recommend indirect ice, i.e., an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel if you are looking for immediate relief. You can also go for a cold bath, or use a bag of frozen vegetables on the sore region. Cryotherapy, i.e., the technique of exposing your body to an extremely cold temperature for a few minutes, speeds up the process of recovery by reducing pain, inflammation, and muscle tiredness after strenuous activity.
  • Heating pad: If your muscles still ache after 48 hours, you should try heat. It can stimulate blood flow to your muscles to ease tightness and help them feel better. All you need to do is use a warm towel or heating pad. However, you must be careful, for if done carelessly, this can cause burns, along with further inflaming muscles. You must also avoid direct contact with any heating device. Warm bath towels can also be used instead.
  • Warm bath: A nice hot bath can also do the trick for your sore body (and mood!). Furthermore, you can go for an Epsom salt hot bath, since soaking in Epsom salts has been directly linked to reduced muscle pain and inflammation.
  • Dietary nutrients: It is advisable to eat within half an hour of a workout, especially if you already feel a bit sore. By feeding your muscles the nutrients they need to repair and grow back stronger, you may be able to speed up the recovery process. You should try to get 20 – 40 g of protein and 20 – 40 g of carbs into your system within 30 minutes of an intense or long workout. For instance, you can go for a serving of Greek yogurt with a handful of berries and a tablespoon of honey. While consuming protein is essential for the amino acids that rebuild your muscles, carbohydrates help in replenishing the fuel stores in your muscles that have been used up during your workout. Furthermore, you should also prioritize meals with enough protein, and consuming fruits, vegetables, and legumes are also key for giving your body vitamins and minerals that promote healing.
  • Caffeine: Many have tried and tested the theory that moderate doses of caffeine may cut your post-workout pain down by almost 50%. It works for most, but you should ensure sufficient water intake afterward.

Pain-relieving tools and techniques for sole muscles after a workout

Sometimes, despite trying all the easy hacks that you can do at home (as mentioned above), the pain does not reduce, and your body continues to feel sore. So, in that case, you should go for something one level higher, that might ease your pain.

There are many types of equipment available in the market today, along with techniques that have come out to reduce the pain in your muscles after a workout session. These pain relievers might require you to go to the market and spend some money, but they can definitely help ease your pain.

Some of the best tips and techniques that experts suggest, and have been reviewed as actually useful, have been listed below.

  • Milk protein supplementations: Milk protein concentrate is basically a concentrated milk product that contains 40-90% milk protein. It is used in protein-fortified foods and beverages, and is also available in powdered form at health food retailers. Studies have proven that milk protein supplementations can help with muscle soreness and induce strength in exercise-induced muscle trauma.
  • Protein and creatine supplements: Many types of protein powders like whey and collagen powder contain a whole range of essential amino acids, which helps your sore muscles recover quickly and easily. Research has also found that creatine helps athletes recover from intense training by helping reduce muscle damage and inflammation, as well as aiding in replenishing your muscles’ glycogen stores.
  • OTC pain relievers: This method is where most people have a divided opinion. On one hand, some say that over-the-counter versions of some medications can reduce swelling and relieve pain. If you get sore muscles once in a while, you can take acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen to help ease the discomfort. Yet, most advise to not use these NSAIDs regularly. Long-term effects of these products can interfere with your muscle’s ability to repair itself, and have other side effects as well. Moreover, most people speak against popping in these painkillers since all they do is dull your pain receptors. So, whilst it can feel good to power through a workout, you could also be masking an injury. It has also been suggested that painkillers can interfere with protein synthesis, which can detriment your muscles’ growth and recovery.
  • Foam Roller: Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a technique used to release tension in muscles and connective tissues, using tools like foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and massage sticks, that help to move the fluids that accumulate in the muscle after exercise. This helps reduce swelling and tenderness easily. The technique may also help with muscle fatigue and flexibility. To foam roll, all you need to do is place the roller on the floor underneath the sore muscle and slowly roll your body over it.
  • Massage gun: Using massage guns is another popular tool to promote post-workout muscle recovery. These handheld machines deliver rapid vibrations that, when placed on your muscles, can help promote blood flow to that area. This technique combines conventional massage and vibration therapy, to provide the best results.
  • OTC creams and ointments: Although more research is needed to prove the worthiness of these things, a 2013 study found that OTC products like topical creams and ointments containing arnica effectively relieved pain and inflammation brought on by intense eccentric exercise. However, most believe that using topical arnica as a natural remedy to heal muscles is an old myth that is just being carried forward for no reason.
  • Compression garments: Wearing a compression garment for 24 hours after exercise can reduce soreness and speed up the recovery of muscle function. These garments hold the muscles in place and increase blood flow for faster recovery. Some types of compression garments available today include sleeves, socks, and leggings. However, more research on these types of equipment needs to be done, to understand the complete effects.

Preventing sore muscles

None of us wants to spend time dealing with sore muscles, or nursing them back, using all sorts of different methods. All we look for these days is a quick fix, and the quickest fix to do this is obviously by learning how to avoid these sore muscles.

  • Do warm up before: Experts recommend stretching before a workout to prevent sore muscles. However, some research shows that stretching ahead of time does not do much to prevent soreness or injury. So, it is recommended to get in a good warm-up before any exercise, such that your muscles open up, and feel ready for the forthcoming exercise. You can always stretch later when your muscles are already warm.
  • Keep your body hydrated: Although it sounds obvious that staying hydrated is an important aspect of muscle recovery, many tend to ignore it nonetheless. You should ensure that you consume enough water, before and after your workout sessions, to prevent and/or reduce muscle soreness. Water keeps the fluids moving through your system, which eases inflammation, flushes out waste products, and delivers nutrients to your muscles, Arent says.
  • Use antioxidants: You can go for antioxidants like vitamin C, which prevent muscle soreness. This is recommended for serious exercises, who might find relief from post-workout soreness by taking in some protein. But you must check with your doctor before taking high doses of any vitamin. Moreover, consuming curcumin, which is a compound found in turmeric, and fish oil, among other things, are also rich in antioxidants that ease your muscles after workouts and prevent soreness.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco: Consuming these is said to increase the muscle soreness you might feel after your workout session. Moreover, these also restrict the positive results that you should get from continuous workout sessions.
  • Always start slow: One of the best ways to prevent sore muscles is by easing your way into your exercise routine. Start off with light exercise and gradually build up.
  • Consume a balanced diet: Reducing your intake of overly processed food, and eating an overall healthy diet can ensure that you do not develop any nutrient deficiencies that make your muscle feel healthy, and ensure no restriction to its recovery after an injury, a workout, etc.
  • Choose an easy aerobic activity: A cool down after a workout helps your breathing and heart rate return to normal. It can also help keep blood flowing to the exercised muscles, which can aid the repair process and potentially reduce the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness. You can easily cool your body down by walking or jogging for a few minutes.
  • Stay mindful: Being mindful of your body and workouts is the best way to prevent future soreness and get the most from exercise. Do not get too excited and enthusiastic on day 1, such that you have to be tied to a bed for the rest of the week! Learn proper form and stick to a routine that gradually increases in intensity and duration to lessen soreness and reduce your risk of injury.

Sore muscles definitely fall into the category of one of the less pleasant side effects of exercise. Depending on the type and intensity of the workout, muscle soreness can range from barely noticeable to extremely painful.

Sore, torn, inflamed muscles sound bad, and at that point of time, all you want to do is to undo whatever caused the discomfort and pain in the first place. However, research has shown that some degree of soreness and inflammation can be a very good sign for your body, for it indicates muscle growth and repair. If you help your muscles recover from the soreness, they are likely to grow back bigger and stronger. No pain, no gain.

So, you should not want to skip the stage of sore muscles during workouts. But you should get it under control as soon as possible, and consult an expert otherwise.

Moreover, you should also not be in the psychology that soreness after every workout session is equivalent to you being effective. Soreness primarily means damage, and damage is fine, maybe even healthy, but only in small doses. You should not voluntarily create soreness-inducing damage to your muscles every time you work out. You do not have to be sore in order to prove to yourself that you had a good workout.

Moving on, linking sore muscles as a sign of a weak body is just as bad. Remember that muscle soreness happens to beginners and conditioned athletes as well, and it is just a natural adaptive response to a new activity or an increase in intensity or duration.

Lastly, keep in mind that consistent effort, dedication, and hard work will get you to your fitness goal, with or without sore muscles.

We hope that your sole muscles go back to normal in no time, and you reach your fitness goal soon!

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