We did an article about a week ago about muscle soreness and what you can do to help prevent it (well, at least lessen the impact as much as possible). Unfortunately muscle soreness isn’t ever completely avoidable. When exercising frequently, you’re going to wake up one morning and not want to move.
The bigger misfortune comes from treating the muscles soreness. The options are limited, but here are some suggestions about getting through the day as painlessly as possible.
Cold beats Hot
When it comes to feeling a little better, applying a heating pad to the muscle seems to do the trick. It helps alleviate some of the pain, and makes you feel a little better for a short time. But therein lies the issue, heat isn’t going to make any progress towards actually healing your muscles and reducing the amount of time you’re in pain.
In order to help your muscles repair faster, than you’re going to want to reduce the swelling. Muscle soreness comes from damaging your muscle tissue during exercise, even if you don’t see it, there’s a lot of swelling. An ice pack is going to alleviate the pain a little bit, but mostly it’s going to help keep the swelling to a minimum.
Stretching with a Foam Roller
If you have one, foam roller stretches have a massaging effect on sore muscles. They can be used to alleviate some of the pain and tension targeting specific muscles. Here are some roller techniques designed for sore muscles.
It helps you feel a little better in the short term, but unfortunately studies show that stretching does little to increase the rate at which your muscles will heal.
If the pain is really intense, you can look into some over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or Aspirin can all help reduce the swelling and relieve the discomfort. However, you need to be careful with these. Prolonged use of even mild pain relievers can leaned to stomach lining issues and can also interfere with your muscles’ ability to repair themselves.
I remember back in the day, wobbling into work smelling of Menthol. I had liberally applied Icy Hot to all the sore areas and while I had been successful at holding back the tears of burning pain (Clearly the marketing people at Icy Hot had a different definition of “Soothing Relief” than I do) at no point was I happy that I had used the product.
These products stimulate nerve receptors to feel hot then cold, but they don’t actually help in the repair of your muscles. So unless you love the smell of Menthol, you can usually avoid the topical creams for the most part.
As far as foods go, increasing your Vitamin C and you Protein intake is going to give your body the nutrients it needs to repair the damaged tissue.
In the end, it’s going to take time. If the muscle has been over-strained then 48 hours of lowered activity is going to help. Maybe throw in a yoga day.