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How to Relieve Sore and Stiff Legs After Exercising

author image Megan Smith
Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.
How to Relieve Sore and Stiff Legs After Exercising
A woman elevating her legs on the couch. Photo Credit Kraig Scarbinsky/Digital Vision/Getty Images

After a strenuous workout session, your legs might feel stiff and painful. This is no cause for concern -- if you used your muscles more than you usually do, some soreness is normal. Usually, soreness starts 12 to 48 hours after exercising and goes away on its own within a week. In rare cases, persistent muscle pain is the result of a more serious injury, like a strain or a sprain. Talk to your doctor before using any home remedies to soothe your muscle pain, especially if you have injuries or other medical conditions.

Step 1

Take a break from exercise until soreness subsides. Rest allows your muscles to repair themselves more quickly, so take it easy for at least a day or two.

Step 2

Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to your sore muscles for 15 minutes at a time to numb the area and reduce pain and swelling. If you don't have an ice pack, wrap a handful of ice cubes in a towel and apply them to the sore area.

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Step 3

Elevate your legs to reduce stiffness and pain caused by swelling. When you overuse your muscles, they can swell, making every movement painful. Prop your legs up with pillows so they are above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.

Step 4

Wrap your sore leg in a cloth bandage to reduce swelling. Compression reduces swelling and pain by putting gentle pressure on the sore muscles.

Step 5

Stretch gently as your muscles heal. Do lunges, squats and reach down to touch your toes very carefully to loosen stiff muscles and relieve pain. Hold each stretch for approximately 30 seconds without bouncing.

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