Nothing takes the joy out of a hard exercise session quite like the agony of muscle pain long after you’re done. Even If you’re doing everything right, you’re still going to have to face the demons eventually: after all, the whole point of exercise is damaging your body just enough to motivate it to come back stronger. That doesn’t mean you have to let muscle pain run rampant, however, as we’ll show with these five simple tricks for taking the edge off of your post-workout agonies.
Combat Muscle Pain
Coffee. It may surprise you, but coffee can work wonders for muscle pain. Recent research has shown that not only do coffee drinkers show a distinct-if-minor edge in performance compared to their non-drinking friends, they experience reduced muscle pain during and after exercise. If the other benefits of coffee haven’t won you over yet, maybe this one’s worth your attention.
Beet juice. The high nitrate content of beets lends itself to quite interesting effects on stamina and recovery—like coffee, a cup of beet juice before a workout will let you go further and pay less of a price when the day is done, a clear win/win. Alternatively, you can try some tart cherry juice; the anthocyanins contained within can reduce inflammation and get your muscles back to normal faster.
Ice. The classic solution to muscle pain and injuries of every sort remains as valuable today as it’s ever been. Ignore the immediate relief of heat—hot baths, hot compresses, these may feel good in the short term but slow healing and recovery. Ice, on the other hand, prevents your muscles from doing themselves any more damage and get you back to normal faster. So grab an ice bag or run yourself a cold shower, and reap the benefits.
Ibuprofen. Muscle pain’s ultimately about inflammation, and NSAIDs like ibuprofen are here to help. If you like to go the all-natural route, there are a few herbal solutions available that can provide similar relief, such as the arnica plant. Just make sure you don’t overdo it—if the recommended dosage isn’t enough, DON’T JUST TAKE MORE. It’s the recommended dosage for a reason!
Tennis ball massage. A nice deep tissue massage after a hard workout works wonders for recovery (and feels great to boot), but most of us don’t have a servant at hand to deliver such a service. Fortunately, you can get much the same result with a handheld massage device…or a tennis ball. Work your muscles over to get blood flowing to clear out the inflammatory chemicals which cause muscle pain—and don’t just stick to the painful areas. Blood flow around the roughed-up muscles matters, too.
On top of these methods, don’t forget simple good practice for health: get regular rest, take the occasional break weak, and know your limits. You do your body no good if you put it in a state it can barely tolerate, much less bounce back from with style.