Sore muscles in the human body are a common symptom of physical exertion and strain. You might feel it as achy, tight muscles, or even stiffness—making it hard to do your normal daily activities.
Don't worry—you're not alone! Analysis from the American College of Sports Medicine indicates that over 90% of people experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after their workouts or a day of strenuous activity.
But what if you could reduce the amount of muscle soreness you feel? Luckily, simple strategies can help keep muscles healthy and alleviate soreness so that you can get back to doing what you love.
Applying ice to a sore muscle is one of the most practical ways to reduce inflammation and boost blood circulation. It can also help prevent further muscle tissue damage from taking place. The best way to apply an ice pack is by folding a damp washcloth or towel around it before placing it on top of the injured area for about 20 minutes. After this period, remove the towel and re-apply every 2 hours until your symptoms subside.
You should drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to keep your body well-hydrated. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramping, soreness, and other physical discomforts as your body attempts to compensate for the lack of fluid by holding on to it more tightly. Health professionals recommend drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily (about 64 ounces in total).
To reduce muscle soreness, consume more antioxidant-rich foods like berries and vegetables. These help fight free radicals that cause inflammation in the body, leading to muscle aches and pains. Also, ensure to include a healthy balance of lean proteins in your diet, which will provide your body with much-needed nutrients to heal itself after a tough workout session.
Stretching before and after any physical activity not only increases flexibility but also helps to remove lactic acid buildup, flush out toxins, and improve circulation in your body—all of which reduce inflammation and muscle pain.
While practicing proper breathing, gently rotate your shoulders, arms, and wrists. Then stretch your legs by bending at the waist to touch your toes. After this initial warm-up, you can focus on stretching the muscles you've used most. For example, if your lower back is sore from a challenging workout at the gym, try some yoga poses that specifically target this area.
Strengthening our abdominal muscles can help us relieve pain by releasing pressure off the joints and ligaments in our lower back, pelvis, neck—or shoulders. This relief comes from improved posture through spinal support. Easy exercises include planks, pelvic squeezes, bird dogs, and dead bugs. The key to effective abdominal exercises is doing them regularly, with good quality over quantity, and building up slowly so you don't get injured.
Make sure to ask your healthcare provider or AmeriCare PT therapist for advice if you have any questions about which kind of workouts are right for you.
By combining the above five strategies with a few tips from your physical therapist at AmeriCare PT, you can start feeling better and stronger than ever before.
Whether recovering from a significant injury or surgery—or just trying to maintain your overall health—AmeriCare Physical Therapy can help you get back to enjoying your life!
Our friendly therapists will work with you to find the treatment options that best address your mobility, strength, and functionality issues. Book an appointment today to connect with our extensive team of rehabilitation professionals!