The best pain reliever is time, but there are some things you can try to help relieve some of the pain.
Unfortunately, if you already suffer from monumental pain, the only surefire remedy is time (DOMS usually lasts about two to three days after the pain peaks, says McCall). But there are some things you can do to relieve the pain while you wait, and in some cases, it can even speed up the process.
- Make a slight movement.
Yes, that sucks. “But if you’re really in pain and decide not to get off the couch, it’s the worst thing you can do,” says McCall. In fact, activity increases circulation and improves blood circulation throughout the body.
“Increased blood flow and nutrients to the muscles are believed to speed up the repair process, which in turn should reduce DOMS,” says Seedman. Although more research is needed, we know that blood transports nutrients and oxygen to muscle tissue, says in particular amino acids, which are the “building blocks” of muscle repair. The idea is that the faster these nutrients reach their destination (through the bloodstream), the faster they can work and the faster they will feel better.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should go back to your regular exercise routine – we’re talking about light activities, like riding or jumping on a recumbent bike at the gym. If you succeed, Seedman also recommends very light strength training. “The blood flow is huge, which is why strength training is so productive – it’s one of the best ways to get blood flow [directly] to these muscles,” says Seedman.
But seriously, light means super light, because you don’t want to further damage muscle fibers. Seedman suggests using only 25 to 50% of the weight you would normally carry or adhere to bodyweight exercises.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
Step 2: drink water. “A small body of research shows a correlation between dehydration and increased muscle pain and DOMS,” says Seedman. While more research is needed, “researchers and practitioners have postulated that if dehydration increases pain, increased levels of hydration can minimize it,” he adds.
The main theory here is that water helps to remove waste, he explains. When muscles break, they release waste and toxins that need to be filtered out of the body (like hydrogen ions and an enzyme called creatine kinase), says Seedman. This waste (among others) is associated with increased pain, says Seedman.
While your kidneys and liver are primarily responsible for filtering toxins (after all, it’s our organs, not everything we eat or drink that detoxifies our bodies), staying hydrated can help move this process forward and keep you going. getting hydrated is still a good idea anyway.
- Do some light stretching.
Again, the keyword is light. Stretching can be a great way to release tension and increase your range of motion when you are in pain, which can make you feel better, although it does not actually heal tears in your muscles or make them repair more. quickly. But more is not always more. “You need to be careful,” says Seedman. “Doing a little light stretching can be good, but trying to stretch the muscle a lot when you feel extremely tense can actually make the muscle even tighter because the body is trying to resist,” he says.
So, how do you know how far it is too far? “Stretch until you are firm enough, relax after 5 to 10 seconds and repeat this, but don’t get to the point where it seems unbearable,” says Seedman. If it is too painful to think about stretching, skip; in fact, it’s about getting temporary relief if you can.
- Make sure you get enough protein.
Protein is an essential nutrient for building and maintaining muscles, so it plays a huge role in helping muscles recover after a hard workout.
While you should eat enough protein all the time to avoid recurring or long-lasting pain in your workouts, says Seedman, it can still be useful to ensure that you eat enough protein after the damage. “You can almost say it will be as vital as light exercise [to recover],” he says.
This does not necessarily mean excessively high amounts of protein. Although needs vary, people who exercise should look for 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For an active person who weighs 150 pounds, this represents about 95 to 136 grams per day, spread over all their meals.
- Try heat or ice to relieve pain.
The debate between heat therapy and cold therapy is ongoing, but for that matter, it’s really about what’s good, in most cases, the effects are temporary. But when you’re super sore, any fleeting relief (as long as it’s safe) pays off.
Ice can help reduce swelling, which is sometimes accompanied by extreme pain, says Seedman. Reducing swelling can help reduce some of the stress that causes pain. Raising your legs (if that’s where it hurts) can also help.
However, heat can also minimize signs of tension and pain, says Seedman. So if relaxing in a hot bath makes you feel better, do so. McCall also notes that this can help with circulation.
In general, time will heal any pain, as long as it is not something more serious.
During recovery, it is also important to watch for signs of something more serious. A syndrome called rhabdomyolysis occurs when overworked muscle fibers die and release proteins from myoglobin into the bloodstream, which can lead to kidney damage and even failure. It is a medical emergency and, with extreme muscle pain, weakness and swelling, the main sign is usually glue-colored urine. If you notice these signs, see a doctor as soon as possible.
If you experience acute pain during training or if the pain does not start to improve after a few days, it can be a sign that you are really hurt and need to see a health professional.