6 Ways to Ease Ab Pain After a Workout

Holding a plank for longer than you're used to could cause sore abs after exercise.

A little soreness after you've exercised is normal, especially if you're new to the activity. Post-exercise soreness, or delayed-onset muscle soreness, is usually worst 24 to 48 hours after you work the muscles.


You may even get sore abs from exercises that didn't strictly target your core, such as running a marathon, a heavy squat session or an intense game of pickleball. Your abs are intrinsic to much of the activity you do. That's why core workouts are so important but also why you can get pain in abs after exercising.

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Usually the soreness in your abs after a workout is due to exertion: You may have exercised your abs hard, skipped your warmup, let your form falter a little or moved too suddenly and now your muscles are on the mend. This kind of post-workout abdominal soreness should go away in a few days. The remedies below can give you quick, temporary relief from ab pain following exercise and speed up that process.

But if your abs ache suddenly or chronically, it's worth talking to a doctor about what else might be going on.

1. Use Epsom Salts

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and the major ingredient in Epsom salts. While there isn't a lot of robust research around this abdominal pain after exercise treatment, the thinking goes that your skin soaks up the magnesium and eases muscle soreness, according to the Cleveland Clinic.


Plus, it's safe and relatively inexpensive to try. Pour 1 to 2 cups into a warm bath and soak for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Try Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can provide quick relief by reducing inflammation.


If you're on any prescription medication, check with your doctor before taking over-the-counter meds and follow dosing on the package.

Don't rely on these medications long term, however, or use them to get through another workout. They are a temporary way to deal with acute soreness.

3. Add Some Heat

In addition to a warm Epsom salts bath, consider applying a heating pad or heat pack, available in most drug stores, to the sore area of your abs. Never directly apply a heating pad to your skin, though, especially as the skin on your abs can be less tough than, say, the bottoms of your feet or palms.



Heat is especially helpful if your abs cramp after crunches, because it can relieve tightness and spasms, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

4. Stretch Out

Stretching sore muscles after a workout can increase blood flow to start the healing process. Consider it a form of gentle, active recovery. If a stretch causes a sharp pain, though, stop immediately. Here are a few stretches to try for sore abs.



  1. Lie on your stomach on a mat or towel.
  2. Slide your hands underneath the creases of your armpits, palms flat on the mat and elbows pointed to the ceiling. Extend your legs behind you.
  3. Press into your palms and gently extend your arms to lift your head, neck and chest off the mat. Only extend your elbows until you feel the front of your abs stretch comfortably.
  4. Hold for 3 or 4 breaths.
  5. Release slowly.
  6. Repeat several more times.


Standing Side Bend

  1. Stand tall with your feet about hip-distance apart. Reach your arms up and press your palms together over your head.
  2. Lean to the right, rooting firmly in your left foot. Feel the entire left side of your torso, including your abs, stretch.
  3. Hold for several breaths.
  4. Return to center and repeat on the other side.
  5. Do as many repetitions as you'd like.

Reclined Bridge Pose

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted a few inches from your glutes. Keep your arms flat on the floor alongside your hips.
  2. Press through your heels to gently lift your hips up until you form a diagonal line from your knees to your shoulders.
  3. Hold for several breaths.
  4. Release slowly.
  5. Repeat 2 or 3 more times.


5. Rest

Soreness after exercise that interferes with your daily activity for several days probably means you worked out too hard. You might want to consider doing fewer sets or using a lower weight next time you work your abs and building up to more intense activity gradually.


In the meantime, take some time to rest your sore abs until the discomfort disappears.

6. Maintain Other Healthy Habits

When you're distracted by core pain, it can be easy to forget the lifestyle habits that support overall muscle recovery: Get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated and eat enough protein and carbs to support your post-workout recovery.

These are important habits all the time if you want to see results from your workout routine, but they can help in moments of soreness, too.

When to See a Doctor

If the pain you experience after ab workouts is chronic, sudden or long lasting, talk to your doctor. You should also seek medical attention if your ab pain makes it hard to walk, interferes with your day-to-day activities or if there's a lump or bump at the site of your pain, which could be a sign of a hernia, according to the Cleveland Clinic.


Common Questions

Is it good if your abs hurt after a workout?

It's certainly normal to be sore after a workout, but it's not necessarily "good" — you can complete an effective workout without being sore afterward. And if your abs hurt ‌too ‌much, you might be less likely to stick with your workout routine.

How long should abs be sore after workout?

It's normal for muscles to be sore anywhere from about 6 to 48 hours after a workout, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Can you overwork your abs?

Yes, you can overwork any muscle, including your abs. This is especially common if you do an ab workout every day. Depending on how experienced you are with fitness, you might do two or three ab workouts a week or even up to six, but everyone benefits from days off.