Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Fit

6 Ways to Ease the Ache After Exercise

Some muscle soreness post-workout is unavoidable. Here are six strategies to minimize the next day's discomfort and speed up recovery so you can get moving again soon.

Author Image
Contributing Writer

Right after a tough workout, your body and mind feel amazing. You’ve pushed yourself, risen to the challenge, and, as a reward, released some feel-good endorphins, like a runner’s high. But sometimes, vigorous exercise can leave your body feeling not so hot (or mobile) the next day. In fact, in the days following an intense physical effort your muscles may be so sore that it hurts to walk down stairs, reach overhead, or touch your toes.

This perfectly normal post-exercise pain is called Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness (DOMS) and it often strikes between 24 and 48 hours after a hard workout. The culprit behind this aching: Tiny tears in the muscles that form when you’ve pushed your body just past its limit. As these tears heal the soreness goes away and your muscles get stronger. While that sounds promising, this no-pain-no-gain approach isn’t always good for you, especially if you’re feeling too weak, stiff, and sensitive to stick to your fitness routine.

Rather than suffer through it or blow off your workouts, try these six strategies to feel more benefit and less burn the day after a challenging workout.

Before You Exercise
Eat some ginger.

Eating ginger root can actually help make your muscles less susceptible to DOMS. One study from the University of Georgia found that eating 2 grams of the spicy stuff—or around ½ teaspoon—for several days before working out helped reduce soreness in intense exercisers by around 25 percent. Researchers aren’t sure of the exact correlation, but they suspect that ginger’s inherent analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties help temper the soreness. Another study found that eating a single 2 gram dose of ginger one day after exercise can also help cut down on pain.

Add a warm-up.

Jumping straight into intense exercise may be one cause of DOMS, according to a study from Australia. In this study exercises were divided into four groups: one that warmed-up before a workout, one that cooled-down after a workout, one that did both, and one that did neither. All participants did 30 minutes of activity designed to illicit soreness the next day. Those in the groups with a gradual 10-minute warm-up felt less sore the next day than the exercisers who hadn’t eased into the exercise.

Related: A Yoga Warm-Up and Cool Down for Athletes


During Your Workout
Push a little less.

You can absolutely make fitness gains with experiencing DOMS. Easing up on intensity is one option for ridding this pain from your workout plan. By gradually adding intensity in the form of additional reps, time, weight, etc., over time (as in days and weeks, not the duration of the sweat session), you’ll slowly ramp up your workout, giving your muscles a chance to adapt. If the slowing down isn’t appealing, remember this: Pushing yourself to the pain point may make it hard to consistently exercise, making it harder to reach your goals.

Change your location.

Do you have a beach nearby, or a pool? Studies show that taking your cardio workout off the typical flat road and onto one of these surfaces can make you less likely to suffer from post-exercise soreness. Much of this has to do with the ratio between pushing and pulling in exercise: When this is close to even (such as when working against the resistance of sand or water) the muscles get a balanced workout, making it less likely that you’ll overdo it.

After Your Activity
Smooth out the kinks.

What’s one just reward for a hard workout? TLC for your muscles in the form of a massage or a self-massage. One study from Australia found that exercisers who got a rubdown three hours after working out—and for several days following exercise—experienced 30 percent less DOMS than those who didn’t. These exercises also had less swelling than exercisers who skipped the massage. Researchers are still determining why massage is so effective at alleviating this pain, but they suspect it has to do with the increased blood and lymph flow that follow a massage as well as reductions in swelling.

Related: 6 Self-Massage Tools to Restore Your Body at Home 

Put it on the rocks.

Damaged, over-used muscles are often inflamed. Applying cool ice to your muscles right after a hard workout can help reduce this, subsequently limiting the pain you feel the next day too. One study from Loma Linda University in California found that applying a cold pack to the effected muscles directly after exercise and 24 hours later reduced the amount of pain subjects felt. Heat worked too, just not as well. Scientists believe that applying cold right after exercise actually reduces the amount of damage done to the muscles during exercise.



Comments (0)

Load More

Find us on Instagram

  • Looking for a quick at-home workout? Try "The Tens" from Stacey Pierce-Talsma, DO, RYT: Start with 10 burpees, 10 pushups, 10 sit-ups, 10 lunges, and 10 squats. Then you do nine of everything, then eight, then seven, all the way down to one. "I like to time myself and see if I can get it done in record time. I enjoy this workout because it usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes, yet I’ve totally gotten a good workout in and strengthened most major muscle groups of my body," she says.

#homeworkouts #WorkoutFromHome #fitness #exerciseroutine
  • During times of uncertainty, it can be a struggle to find time for self-care. But a few minutes of quiet can do so much for your well-being. In our guided meditation, Deepak Chopra, M.D., invites you to take a few moments of mindful attention so you can center yourself and make space in your mind to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Click the link in our bio. 
#meditation #selfcare #mindfulness
  • Many yogis chose to decorate their bodies with intellectual and emotional reminders of the practice. The symbology of the yogic tradition from chakras to Sanskrit letters has been paired with universal symbols of love, life, breath, and oneness to create a yoga-tattoo canon of sorts. The symbology has been overturned and reinterpreted over time, so that the scope of a “yoga tattoo” has actually become quite wide. Here we present a collection of body art, which honors the diversity of the many yoga lineages and the masterful and artful creativity of the modern yogi:

Check out the link and then tell us: Do you have any yoga tattoos?

#yoga #tattoos #bodyart #yogaart #bodyink
  • Start your day with this empowering mantra. "It sets the tone for the morning and can help me come back to my truest self and feel like I can take on anything," says @sophie.jaffe. 
What's your favorite mantra to kickstart the week? Tell us below!

#mantra #mondaymantra #quotes
  • Have you ever noticed that spas tend to smell of flowers such as lavender and ylang ylang? Studies show that these scents increase calmness, which is right for that setting. If you were to look for an essential oil that had the opposite effect—one that made you more energized and alert—choose peppermint. This distinct odor has the opposite effect of soothing essential oils, although it’s still a pleasant scent. Peppermint can even enhance your memory. #energyboost #boostenergy #essentialoils #memorybooster #naturalhealth #naturalremedies
  • If you find it hard to concentrate, try this practice from @alive.awake.empowered at least once a day: Count breathing cycles. Inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale, three. And so on.

You may be able to get only as far as two or three at first. But with practice, you will improve, and so will your ability to concentrate. Do what you can, and when a thought interrupts, go back to one.

#meditation #concentration #focus #mondays
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!