Physical activity provides a number of benefits when it comes to improving health and maintaining a healthy weight. In addition to burning calories for weight loss, exercise decreases blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improves sleep, reduces stress and increases strength, endurance and muscle tone. Muscle soreness post-exercise may be the result of heavy workouts, excess load or prolonged activity that fatigues the muscles. Prevent and decrease soreness by following a number of healthy tips that can leave you feeling energized for your next workout.
Stretch following a workout. Stretching muscles following physical activity can decrease muscle soreness by preventing tightness caused from contraction. There is conflicting evidence as to the benefits of stretching with some researchers claiming it can help versus others who found no significant effects on fitness levels. However, stretching can improve flexibility and decrease the risk of injury by improving range of motion and blood flow to the muscles. Stretch each major muscle group following physical activity for approximately 30 seconds of two to three reps.
Warm up and cool down properly before and after engaging in physical activity. A light warm up increases blood flow to the muscles to help prepare muscles for intense or prolonged physical activity. A cool down aids active recovery to unwind tight, contracted muscles and prevent soreness and fatigue. Incorporate five to 10 minutes of light physical activity, such as walking, jogging, marching in place or doing jumping jacks before exercising.
Soak in a hot bath or hot tub to decrease muscle soreness. Hot water can relax contracted, stiff muscles and reduce muscle tension that leads to soreness. Adding epsom salts to a warm water bath can also decrease muscle soreness by releasing magnesium and sulfates to be absorbed by the skin. According to the Epsom Salt Council, many researchers report that magnesium flushes toxins and metals from the body's cells to help decrease muscle soreness. Sulfates may also assist removal of toxins from the body as well as form proteins that line the joints and intestinal walls.
Massage your muscles to decrease muscle soreness. The Stretching Institute reports that massage stimulates neutrophils in the body. These are white blood cells that fight inflammation associated with stiffness and pain. Consider getting a regular massage once every couple of weeks or perform self-massage by gently kneading sore muscles. Equipment, such as a foam roller or a tennis ball, can also be used to reduce soreness by applying pressure to sore muscles.