Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) usually happens between 6-48 hours after you have fatigued your muscles during exercise. Once you master these muscle soreness recovery tips, muscle pain after a workout is something you will experience less and less.
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Why do we experience muscle pain after a workout?
So, before we look at the muscle soreness recovery tips that actually work, let’s first learn why we experience body pain after gym first day or after a new and intense exercise routine.
Muscle tissue becomes inflamed or torn during an unfamiliar or intense workout session and the pain only manifests itself within 6-48 hours after exercise, and usually peaks after 24 hours.
At this point, it becomes extremely excruciating to do simple things like sitting down on the toilet or walking up or down the stairs. This is why gym addicts usually say that they hate leg day because muscle soreness shows them who is boss, a day or two after an intense lower body workout. But, as they say, no pain no gain, right?
Actually, you can have gains without pain if you workout more frequently and consistently. The muscles will be torn or inflamed less the next time you exercise, and you will experience less muscle pain until you step it up a notch again.
The best muscle soreness recovery tips
Since it’s going to take you a while to get to a point where your muscles don’t become still and sore after a workout, there are some effective muscle soreness recovery tips that you can follow.
1. Get a good massage
A study was conducted to determine the best post-exercise recovery techniques for muscle soreness, fatigue, and inflammation revealed that a massage was the ” most effective method for reducing DOMS”.
One way to get a great massage for muscle soreness recovery is to use a foam roller.
Foam rolling speeds up muscle recovery by first giving you gives you amazing pain while at it. Yes, recovery comes through the pain with this one, but once it’s over, you will be ready for your next workout like a champ.
Foam rolling is a self-massage method that helps with relaxing the tight muscles. Foam rolling immensely improves recovery time, increases blood flow to the muscles and often improves flexibility by stretching out the muscles.
You should get into the habit of using a foam roller post workouts while your muscles are still warm to prevent injury. Ideally, you should be spending a minimum of 60 seconds of massage per muscle group.
If you do not own a foam roller you can get this foam roller designed for deep muscle tissue massage therapy from Amazon which comes with an ebook of instructions.
2. Work through the pain
The good thing about DOMS is that you don’t have to wait until the soreness is completely gone before working out again. Ouch!
Yes, while this may sound painful, but gym life doesn’t come to a stop because you had an intense workout the previous day. Remember, it’s all about consistency.
One way to speed up muscle soreness recovery is by actively recovering. You can actively recover by going lighter on weights, reducing the volume of your workout or focusing on other muscle groups.
How this works is this: you can repeat the same workout routine two days later, but this time around, your intensity should be 40-50 of what you put in on the other day. Alternatively, you can also perform low-intensity cardio, Pilates or yoga workouts.
A takeaway from post-workout muscle soreness is that it should never discourage you from continuing to workout. The more you move, the less pain you will feel, that is how gym muscle recovery works. The only time you should be concerned and seek medical attention is if your muscle pain lasts longer than 5 days.
3. Soak in an Epsom salt bath
Epsom salt contains Magnesium and sulfate. The mineral magnesium is absorbed through the skin when it is dissolved in a hot bath. It helps to relax the sore muscles and reduce inflammation.
If you have ever had a conversation with a long-distance runner, about their muscle soreness recovery remedies, an Epson salt will find its way in the answer because most runners use Epson salt baths to recover faster between runs.
How to soak in Epsom salt
The Epsom salt Council recommends adding two cups of Epsom salt to a standard bath and soaking for at least 12 minutes to relieve sore muscles.
To help you with muscle soreness recovery, I highly recommend this quality bag of Epsom Salt which is also available on Amazon.
4. Eat anti-inflammatory foods to relieve sore muscles fast
Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants will work against inflammation. Eating anti-inflammatory foods within 24 hours of an intense workout will also help to relieve sore muscles fast.
While fighting against inflammation, it is advisable to stay away from red meat, fried foods and sodas and other refined foods.
To make this lemon, turmeric and ginger anti-inflammatory drink that works like a charm, you can check this recipe from Amazeballs Recipes.
Anti-inflammatory foods and herbs include:
5. Wear compression gear to ease body pain after the first day at the gym
Have you heard runners rave about compression gear? Well, it turns out scientific research highly recommends wearing compression tights for faster recovery after an intense workout.
You should wear compression tights immediately after, or within 24 hours of intense exercise. Although it remains unclear how exactly compression gear helps with post-workout recovery, scientists believe that compression garments reduce trauma to the body cells by improving blood circulation and raising body temperature.
If you are looking for the best compression tights, Under Armour happens to have the best compression leggings for both men and women.
6.Warm-up before and stretch after workouts
You should jump straight into a workout as this increases the chances of injury as well as muscle soreness. Warming up before exercising improves blood flow and gradually raises body and muscle temperature.
Performing dynamic stretching (stretching through movement), and not static, for at least 5 minutes is the best way to activate the muscles and warm up.
Post-workout, you should perform static stretching as a way of cooling down.
You should hold a stretch for at least 20 seconds or longer before moving to the next muscle group. Skipping stretching will cause the muscles to shorten the muscles and become tight, according to Harvard Health Publications.
7. You can use essential oils for muscle soreness recovery
If you are a lover of all things essential oil, there’s good news for you too. Some essential oils are known to have amazing soothing powers that help with muscle soreness recovery. There are a number of ways that you can use essentials oils to ease muscle soreness.
Another way to use essential oils for sore muscles is to simply add a few drops to your bath, relax and let the essential oil do its thing.
The best essential oils for easing muscle soreness
Susan Chanda is a professional content writer/journalist with over 20 years’ experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from University of South Africa and a diploma in Journalism and Public relations.
Susan has been writing evidence based fitness and health articles since 2016 for Fitness Chat, and is a certified fitness trainer, and diet and nutrition coach.
Fitness Chat is one of the several other websites that Susan owns, or co-owns with her children.
You can read more about Susan here.