Muscle soreness, if not handled properly, can be severely painful and stop you from doing other activities. And who would want workouts to be a hurdle in your lifestyle rather than improving it?

Understanding the importance of this fact, here are certain methods and tricks that’ll help you to learn about easing your muscle pain if it becomes unbearable.

But before that, let’s know about the reason and types of muscle soreness in detail.

Reasons Behind Sore Muscles After Workout & Exercise

Also known as Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), muscle soreness after exercise is the result of damage to your muscle tissue while working out. This damage or micro-tearing initiates the repair process in the body by fostering inflammation.

Fluid will accumulate in your muscles at the site of injury and it will put extra pressure on the damaged areas. This will, in turn, result in the feeling of pain and sensation at least 12 to 24 hours after your workout.

Generally, certain types of workouts or exercises that are more intense and are performed for the first time result in soreness.

Movements that involve a lot of eccentric patterns are likely to result in higher levels of damage and muscle soreness when compared to other types of workouts.

Another reason for this muscle soreness can even be a sudden increase in the volume of your intense workouts. Before learning the methods to handle muscle soreness after a workout, let’s know about the different types of muscle soreness.

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Different Types of Muscle Soreness: Acute & Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

There are 2 different types of muscle soreness both of which are a good signal that you are getting stronger and moving towards your fitness goal. These 2 types are acute muscle soreness & the delayed onset muscle soreness.

Acute muscle soreness is the immediate muscle soreness that you feel after you workout. The reason behind acute muscle soreness is the build-up of different substances like lactic acid within your muscle fibres.

You do not need to worry if you have acute muscle soreness because it will resolve generally in a couple of hours.

As the name itself suggests, delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is usually felt after a delayed time from your workout routine.

The muscle ache can start anywhere after 12 hours from your exercise and can be at its highest painful point around 48 hours after your workout.

How Long is Post-Workout Muscle Soreness Supposed to Last?

Generally, your muscles will be sore after a workout and will take anywhere between 24 to 48 hours to come back to the normal state.

But if your muscle soreness does not go away even after a few days of rest then you may have to consult a physical therapist. It could even be a sign of serious muscle injury, muscle strain or tears in the muscle.

Ways To Ease Sore Muscles 

Different ways can help you get some relief from post-workout muscle soreness. Let’s have a look at them-

1. Consume Enough Nutrition to Help Ease Muscle Soreness

Muscle soreness in the body results in the damage to the muscle and hence enough nutrition is required for passive recovery.

Your body will require proteins to repair these muscles, healthy fats to lubricate your joints and even carbohydrates that will help you perform the next tough workout.

You must eat a balanced diet both before as well as after your workout.  This balanced diet should include anything like boiled chicken, steamed vegetables or even a slice  of peanut butter toast with bananas.

The pro tip hair is not to do a good workout while you are hungry.

2. Hydration is the Key to Relieve Muscle Pain

Hydration is the foundation of muscle recovery because water helps to keep the fluids in your body moving which is crucial for muscle recovery.

The moving fluid can deliver nutrients to your muscles. It will also ease the inflammation process while ousting out all the waste products.

According to a study, you should keep it a thumb rule to drink approximately 13 to 20 ounces of water 2 hours before working out.

But if the duration of your workouts is more than 90 minutes, then you should consume some type of electrolyte beverage that can help to replenish the lost glucose.

Get an idea about the indication of hydration by the colour of your urine. If you have pale yellow urine, then it means you are hydrated. On the other hand medium or dark yellow urine give signals of dehydration.

3. Practice Active Recovery after a Tough Workout

Studies suggest that static stretching after a workout will not help much with muscle soreness. However active recovery can. Active recovery refers to low-intensity or light exercise that helps your muscles to recover after an intense workout.

There are a number of ways through which you can integrate active recovery into your fitness regimen. First of all, you can practice it during your workout. For this, add high intensity exercise and brief recovery intervals in interval training.

Secondly, you can incorporate active recovery post your workout session. Practice slow and easy movements like jogging or walking as part of a cool-down sequence after an intense exercise training session.

At the end, you should even practice active recovery on your rest days. You can take advantage of these days by indulging in gentle activities like Yoga, meditation, swimming, etc.

sore elbow pain

4. Try Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a type of self-massage that has been shown to improve the range of motion while easing out muscle tightness and stiffness.

It is a type of myofascial release that uses a foam roller to massage your fascia. Fascia is a connective tissue that connects your ligaments, muscles and tendons together.

You can get a foam roller online and try out the foam rolling exercises after your workout to improve athletic performance and reduce pain. Trying out foam rolling before your workouts can help you start the workouts and warm your muscles.

If you are a beginner make sure you start with a low-density and smooth massage ball or foam roller instead of a firmer roller.

5. Apply Essential Oils

Apply essential oils to help with muscle pain and stiffness. There are a variety of essential oils available in the market like Rosemary oil or Lavender oil.

But one important tip to remember here is that essential oils are highly concentrated and hence can react with your skin.

So make sure to dilute them before you apply them directly on your skin. The best way is to do a patch test and then start by using small quantities of diluted oil on your sore muscles.

6. Compression Garments

Crafted from materials like nylon or spandex, compression garments fit around your skin and apply pressure to the muscle groups.

The compression applied to the particular area helps to enhance blood flow to your muscles and hence decrease post-workout muscle soreness.

7. Opt for Ice or Heat Therapy

There is a long debate about whether to apply Ice or heat to sore muscles. Though there is no clear result, we can try both ice and heat therapy because they can help to deal with sore muscles. Before you op for a particular method, here is the background behind using each of the methods.

Cold therapy reduces swelling by slowing circulation and helps to ease pain. It can be used to deal with new or immediate injuries and pain.

On the other hand, heat therapy increases circulation and hence helps to deal with muscle pain by relieving any tight muscles. However this method can be used to deal with old injuries or pain.

According to a study, if you use either cold or heat therapy after approximately an hour of your workout, then it can help to ease muscle pain.

Another study showed how using cold therapy like an ice bath had pain-relieving effects for about 24 hours while using heat therapy like heating pads had effects for more than 24 hours.

8. Try a Split-Day Routine

People who workout daily can try a split routine to deal with their muscle soreness. As the name itself suggests, a split day routine is to split out your workouts by muscle groups.

If you are doing legs 1 day then the next day you can do another muscle group like arms. A split-day routine has numerous benefits.

Since it helps to target different muscle groups each day, it will ensure that you have enough time to recover before you target the particular muscle group again. This also make sure that each of the muscle groups are given proper time and efforts.

9. Warm Up

Warming up before starting a high-intensity workout routine is essential to prevent muscle injuries. To warm up before your workout routine, you can take out 15 to 15 minutes and stretch out your muscles or perform easy aerobic activities like walking or jogging.

The main aim here is to enhance the flow of blood to the particular muscle group you are targeting that day. This will prime your muscles for high-intensity activity.

10. Cool Down

Cooling down simply means taking time to slow your workout after a high-intensity exercise. It is the reverse of a warm-up routine and helps to prevent any fluid from getting held up in your muscles and joints.

When you stop your workout immediately, your heart beats at a high rate. So 10 to 15 minutes of cool down will help to bring back your breathing pattern to a normal rate and even help with any muscle soreness.

11. Get Sleep for Pain Relief

Sleep is a crucial component of exercise recovery. Though it may not have any immediate effect on your muscle soreness, it can definitely be useful. Get anywhere around 7 hours of sleep post-workout.

According to a study, Non-Rapid eye movement sleep helps to increase the protein synthesis in your body. This, in turn, will repair the damaged muscles and ease muscle soreness.

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When Should You See a Physical Therapist for Muscle Soreness?

Generally, DOMS is not a reason to require any medical treatment or professional help. But if your pain lasts for more than a week and keeps coming back then you should consider hiring a Healthcare professional.

There are certain conditions when you should see your health care provider. If you have dark-colored urine or less frequent urination, severe pain, and very swollen limbs, then you should consider having a word with your doctor.


Thus, this was all you need to know about how to handle muscle soreness after your workouts. Muscle soreness is an indication that you are on the right track however, long-lasting pain can be a symptom of an injury.

So, make sure you consult a physical therapist if things get out of hand and even these tips do not ease muscle soreness.

Good Luck!

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