Experiencing muscle soreness after a strenuous workout or a tough hill run is normal. Your muscles can also feel soreness if they are exposed to a new physical activity.
There are a couple of natural ways to relieve sore muscles, as well as preventing and minimizing muscle soreness.
What's the Cause of Muscle Soreness?
Sometimes your muscles can feel sore a day or two after your workout. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a normal occurrence and includes symptoms of soreness, weakness, and tenderness.
The first time that you train, there's going to be small tears in the muscle fibers. Your body is not used to it and it has to recover from it.
Sometimes the soreness is more intense during the second day. For example, if you worked out on Monday, then you could feel more intense soreness on Wednesday.
Some theories state that it is caused by the breakdown of muscle fibers, releasing lactic acid that attracts inflammatory cells. These inflammatory cells release chemicals that touches nerve fibers causing pain.
Soak your affected muscles in a warm bath mixed with Epsom salt. The compound in Epsom salt, called magnesium sulfate, plays an important role in relieving muscle soreness, as well as stress. Epsom salt helps to restore your body’s magnesium and sulfate by absorbing it through your skin.
- Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt depending on your bathtub size
- The water should be warm, not hot! Hot water will strip away your skin's protective oil
- Make sure Epsom salt is completely dissolved
- Soak for for about 15-20 minutes.
Note: According to the Epsom Salt Council, Epsom salt baths are not recommended for people with heart problems, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Consult your physician if you have any questions.
This second method of minimizing muscle soreness may be the last thing that you would consider doing. After my volleyball tournaments, my body is in so much pain that I just want to lay still for a couple of days. Every muscle hurts with movement. However, in order to minimize the soreness you should move around.
By gently doing light exercises, you are increasing blood flow to the muscles. This will help increase rate of recovery. You're going to get more oxygen, blood flow, and nutrients to the muscles that are damaged, which flushes out lactic acid. It helps speed up the recovery process.
So ideally, take a light walk around the block or do some light chores around the house.
If your muscles are sore from lifting weights, it is caused by small tears from your muscles being stretched out. Drink a lot of water to flush out the lactic acid.
- Pineapples contain an enzyme called Bromelain, which helps reduce pain and inflammation in joints. Bromelain is also good for muscle soreness.
Daily consumption of antioxidants can limit soreness of muscles. Vitamins C and E are very effective antioxidant defenders against damage to muscle tissues. vitamin C is found in fruits such as oranges, berries, and melon. Vitamin E can be found in leafy green vegetables and whole grains.
I recommend that you blend up a healthy recovery sports drink that includes leafy vegetables and fruits.
While you likely will still experience muscle soreness while eating these foods, the pain should be less noticeable. Muscle soreness is inevitable, but if you follow these tips it can be minimized and recovery time can be faster.
Make sure you are stretching properly after workouts to minimize muscle soreness. Contrary to popular beliefs, you don't have to stretch prior to a workout. However, warming up your muscle is important.
- When stretching, hold it for 15-20 seconds.
- Do not bounce or move around too much.
- Do not overextend and stretch too far.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Joe Cseko on December 02, 2016:
I'd like to make one or two corrections, if I may.
You stated "Some theories state that it is caused by the breakdown of muscle fibers, releasing lactic acid that attracts inflammatory cells."
This is only partially correct. The breakdown of healthy contractile tissue is actually caused by enzymatic damage, which occurs after the "muscle tearing:, or more accurately microtrauma. Those enzymes are flushed into the area to "clean up" the damaged tissue, but ultimately destroy some healthy tissue.
Also, there's nothing "touching the nerves". The chemicals that cause the sensation of pain ar called prostaglandins. Those are the same chemicals that anti inflammatory drugs inhibit.
The above comment made by "Simon" is completely incorrect. Soreness doesn't just stop because you've trained for a period of time. I've been lifting weights for over thirty years, and I'm very sore after every workout. If you become accustomed to a workout, but never try to exceed the performance of the previous workout, yes, you may no longer get sore.
Simon on June 21, 2016:
Soreness occurs most severely when working out a muscle or group of muscles that haven't been worked in a long time. So if you're training very intensely and consistently, you won't get as sore as if, say, you see how many pull ups you can do twice a year.
ideadesigns on January 04, 2015:
My trouble would be the staying active part. I get in a routine, but then slack off, oh well, great tips for soreness!
Cholee Clay from Wisconsin on March 14, 2014:
Great tips. I just started going to the gym and found myself very sore some days. I've always stretched out after working out, but I tend to do very little the next day. Think I'll try my own short workout on days I don't go to the gym. Never thought staying active would help the muscles heal faster.
Claudia Mitchell on September 05, 2012:
Years ago someone told me not to stretch after a workout so I didn't for a long time. Later, I was speaking with a fitness buff who told me the opposite and boy was she right. Stretching made all the difference and I'm not so sore anymore. Great tips!
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on August 30, 2012:
Thanks very much. Found it at https://caloriebee.com/diets/Attention-athletes-dr... Looks very useful and I will try that.
Kim Lam (author) from California on August 29, 2012:
Hi DreamerMeg, refer to my hub on pickle juice and muscle cramps.:-) And yes- stretching always help for me too! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on August 29, 2012:
I tend not to get very sore after workouts - and yes, I am working hard! I find I am more likely to get muscle cramps at night in bed, though these have lessened considerably since I started going to Pilates class. I think the stretching helps.