If you’re a beginner who works out often, you likely experience muscle soreness regularly.
Strangely, the soreness usually sets in a day or two after your workout. This can make for some unpleasantness, especially if you live an active lifestyle.
Most people confuse muscle soreness with muscle damage. Yes, resistance training and hypertrophy do damage your muscle tissue. In response, your body sends out inflammatory signals that begin to repair the damaged tissue.
It’s during this healing process that you make neuromuscular improvements and also when you start feeling sore. This soreness is also referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
The pain and aches from DOMS will peak about 2-3 days post-workout and dissipate over time. So, how can we accelerate muscle recovery and get back to our workouts?
While there’s no shortage of innovative recovery technologies and therapies, not everyone can step into a flotation tank or own a cryotherapy chamber.
The next few methods I’m about to share are not only low-cost alternatives but also highly effective at reducing muscle inflammation.
If you want fast recovery without having to break the bank, read on!
You can foam roll around sore regions of your muscles for relief. It promotes the myofascial release of connective tissue covering your muscles, organs, and joints.
Your Fascia can become tight and stiff due after a heavy workout, which can restrict your muscles’ full range of motion.
Foam rolling helps to elongate and loosen the fascia and relieve that pressure.
While personal sports therapists and masseuses are clinically trained in myofascial therapy, a foam roller is a quick DIY alternative you can perform at home.
There are many parts of the body that can benefit from foam rolling such as areas of tenderness, tightness, and even past injury.
Here are three common areas and a guide on how to foam-roll for each:
Upper back (Thoracic spine)
A rigid thoracic spine can be the result of spending a day slumped over at the office. Follow these steps:
- Lie on your back and place the foam roller behind the shoulder
- Bend your knees and gently lift your midsection above the floor
- Slowly roll the foam roller down the spine till your reach the lower ribs
- Roll back up and repeat
Tight hammies can clam up and become a nuisance if you don’t stretch frequently.
- Sit upright on the floor with your legs extended to form an L position
- Place the foam roller under your thighs
- Roll backward from the back of your knees to your glute regions
- You can apply more pressure by crossing one leg over the other and rolling on one hamstring at a time
Hips are utilized in everything, from your posture to your movement. Here’s how to keep them loose:
- Sit on the foam roller with it positioned at the back of your hip
- Cross one leg over your opposite knee
- Roll on your outside hip
- Hold for about 30-60s if you hit any areas of tenderness to reduce discomfort
Bengay or Tiger Balm
Grab pain-relieving menthol rubs like Bengay or Tiger Balm off your local Walgreens or Costco pharmacy.
These greasy ointments contain camphor and menthol to help relieve muscle pain and apply a cooling effect to the regions of muscle inflammation.
While they don’t directly speed up the healing process, menthol rubs are great for alleviating pain.
Tiger Balm’s mix of herbal ingredients also contains essential oils that provide comfort from aches, such as clove oil, mint oil and cassia oil.
It’s also simple to use. Just rub well on the affected area and repeat three to four times daily for best results.
A cheap but timeless remedy for aches and pains, ice baths have become almost ubiquitous in athletic therapy.
The application of ice to a sore region helps numb the nerves and reduce pain. Exposing your body to extremely cold environments such as an ice bath constricts your blood vessels and reduces fluid buildup and swelling.
Getting out from the cold triggers a physiological response that redirects blood flow and circulation in your body. This helps to deliver nutrient-infused blood that aids muscle recovery.
The risk of hypothermia is relatively low but it’s advisable to follow some general guidelines for safety.
Keep the water between 50 to 59 degrees and immerse yourself between 10-20minutes at the most.
While this might seem counter-intuitive, performing some light exercise and warm-ups can help improve your recovery from DOMS.
They help to move and lengthen the muscle, promote blood circulation to affected areas and reduce tightness.
Try dynamic stretches like body weight squats or lunges the day after a heavy workout.
Alternatively, a slow jog or walk can also work wonders for pain relief.