Treating Muscle Soreness After Exercise

Treating Muscle Soreness After Exercise

Doctors and fitness enthusiasts have discussed delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. It's a common issue in the body of those who exercise more than they're used to. Still, it might also be experienced by anyone who typically stresses their muscles less yet puts them through strenuous activity regardless. Doctors suggest that DOMS is caused by inflammation and small tears in our muscle fibers.

DOMS often sets in for most people the next morning after a particularly arduous workout or a day or two afterward. DOMS often peaks from 24 to 72 hours from the initial event before subsiding; symptoms can include muscle aches, swelling, stiffness, and soreness.

Treatment focuses on reducing inflammation and allowing a sore muscle to heal properly. The treatments that some athletes say have helped them may or may not have been studied well enough to know whether they are effective, but there is still no harm in trying to see if they work.

Several treatments exist for this common complaint and vary from person to person. For example, some people deal with pain relief naturally after rest and water intake. In contrast, others need specific pain medications, professional help, and a special diet designed for their doctor or nutritionist, depending on their needs.

Here are some common treatments and the rationale for their effectiveness.

Rest

Stressed muscles are often overlooked but frequently happen in some people. Luckily, there are easy ways that even the least active person can ensure they don't suffer the aches and pains that may come with sore muscles. As the Mayo Clinic points out, one way to relieve muscle tension is by getting enough relaxation time because we know how much of a struggle this can sometimes be. 

For example, rather than force yourself to go out for a run or head over to the gym every night after work, why not consider another option? It will prevent your muscles from becoming overworked and tired, which could cause severe discomfort elsewhere. After all, resting and relaxing are something we need more of in modern life.

Heat therapy

Heat application can help relax a tense, stiff muscle. Heat application before exercise can also help ensure the muscle is warm and loose during active recovery. The warmth will also increase blood flow to the area and allow faster healing in as little as three days.

Sacksythyme Everywhere Microwaveable Heating pad helps to relieve body stiffness. Stiffness pain occurs when muscles, ligaments, joints, and tendons cannot move freely. Instead, they become entangled and create discomfort as a result. In addition, the muscles inflate with blood, and the connective tissues compress while the body is active. 

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    As a result, muscles get stiff while the connective tissues stretch. All of this can make it difficult to move. However, with the correct heating pad, you can alleviate the discomfort.

    When to use heat therapy

    Here is a general guide on when to use heat therapy for muscle soreness:

    • In the first 24 hours after exercise
    • For chronic muscle pain
    • For muscle spasms
    • To improve flexibility

    Tips for using heat therapy

    Here are some tips for using heat and cold therapy safely and effectively:

    • Do not use heat therapy for broken skin, decreased sensation, or poor circulation.
    • Do not use heat therapy for more than 20 minutes at a time.
    • Do not fall asleep with a heating pad on.

    Cold Therapy

    Cold water has been used for many physical ailments but primarily pain relievers for centuries. From easing headaches to reducing swelling and bruising, cold therapy is a proven method for treating many skin ailments. Many athletes have also discovered relief from cold therapy like ice baths or cold packs applied directly to the affected area. 

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      While there are still some, who say that this type of treatment doesn't do anything except temporarily distract you from feeling the symptoms associated with overuse injuries like delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), studies have shown that properly cooled muscles and joints recover more quickly than that left at room temperature.

      Inflammation occurs when your immune system tries to heal an injured or infected area of your body. A cold pack on the affected part helps reduce inflammation by constricting the blood vessels, which reduces the amount of fluid in the tissue. 

      It can be very effective and ideally should be kept on for 15 minutes to half an hour, and in most cases, cold sacks should be used several times a day. However, it's also important not to overdo it, as this can cause more damage than help you feel better!

      When to use Cold therapy

      Here is a general guide on when to use Cold therapy for muscle soreness:

      • In the first 24-48 hours after exercise
      • For acute muscle injuries
      • For Inflammation
      • To reduce pain

      Tips for using Cold therapy

      • Do not apply ice directly to your skin. Wrap the ice in a towel or cloth before applying it to your skin.
      • Do not apply cold therapy for more than 20 minutes at a time.
      • Do not use cold therapy if you have decreased sensation or poor circulation.

      Massage

      Massage therapy stimulates blood flow, alleviates swelling, and generally reduces discomfort within the muscleʼs tissue. In addition, massage can help prevent aches and pains by alleviating soreness and improving circulation.

      There are many ways to handle stress in your life. For instance, many athletes enjoy foam rolling. This technique is a form of self-massage where you use a high-density roller to place pressure on the muscles for an effect known as myofascial release. 

      Many have found this extremely helpful for relaxing and stretching out the muscles that have been worked very hard because it helps improve blood flow and nourishes the tissues surrounding your muscles.

      Gentle Stretching

      Scientists have proposed that stretching after running or another activity will help prevent soreness, but specific evidence has not backed the theory. But many people are still convinced: for example, studies suggest that regular stretching athletes report less soreness than those who do not. Plus, no evidence suggests that a good stretching routine could hurt you.

      If you want to try some stretching, we recommend it! It may help and probably won't hurt. But it would be best if you also remembered to be relaxed and comfortable.

      Topical Creams

      Topical analgesic heat rubs include Aspercreme, BenGay, and IcyHot. These products are a type of counterirritant, meaning they don't warm up or cool down the muscles themselves but cause the sensation of feeling warmer or cooler in your skin. The sensation is caused by a substance (the medicine) that irritates nerve cells and helps send pain signals to the brain, thus masking them with other sensations.

      These rubs do not affect the muscle or change the skin's temperature. Instead, they can encourage the perception of pain relief by essentially distracting from the underlying issue.

      Active Recovery

      Active recovery is a method athletes can use to speed up recovery after an intense day of playing or competing. It means you do a less strenuous activity than the one which made you sore. Suppose you're feeling wiped out after playing basketball, for example. In that case, it might be a good idea to go for a walk instead of downhill skiing that same day because it differs from the previous activity.

      Active recovery stimulates blood flow to the muscles and helps reduce muscle pain while maintaining an athlete's conditioning. The key to this exercise differs from how hard you work and how light or easy your movements are.

      Essential oils

      Essential oil is a chemical compound derived from plant sources that captures the plant's scent or "essence." The resulting concentrated substance, commonly called aromatherapy, can be utilized in numerous ways to support one's health. 

      Aromatherapy employs the therapeutic properties of fragrant essences to promote healing, including antibacterial, calming, anti-inflammatory, and immunity-boosting properties. These benefits are especially useful for post-workout recovery.

      Benefits of Essential Oils: After exercise,

      Essential oils can be beneficial for post-workout recovery. Let us explore various aspects of recovery and determine which oils are most effective.

      Anti-inflammatory

      Engaging in high-intensity workouts that challenge the capacity of your muscles to perform beyond their typical limits can yield multiple health advantages, such as building and toning muscle groups. 

      Unfortunately, this form of physical activity induces small tears in the muscle fibers, leading to inflammation. While this process is common in muscle-building, it can cause discomfort. However, scientific research and personal experiences have demonstrated the efficacy of essential oils such as Lavender, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Thyme in reducing inflammation.

      Pain Reduction

      It is common to experience pain following a workout due to inflammation or injury. However, opting for essential oils rather than over-the-counter medication can provide a safer and less harmful solution for mild post-workout pain and discomfort. 

      In addition, a meta-analysis conducted in 2016 revealed that aromatherapy using essential oils such as Lavender, Eucalyptus, Ginger, and Citrus/Orange was effective in treating pain in various studies. Therefore, essential oils can be viable for addressing post-workout pain and discomfort.

      Improved circulation

      Another aspect of post-workout recovery is enhancing circulation, which is crucial in delivering oxygen, nutrients, and immune cells to areas inflamed or damaged during the workout. Essential oils that stimulate and improve circulation, such as Lavender, Ginger, Cypress, Black Pepper, and Peppermint, can be highly beneficial.

      Getting to Know Your Oils

      It is noticeable that certain essential oils were included in multiple categories above. This characteristic of essential oils is beneficial as they possess diverse properties to promote one's health. For example, Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus are essential oils that aid post-workout recovery. 

      For individuals unfamiliar with essential oils, experimenting with these oils first can provide the most extensive benefits without requiring significant upfront time and cost. In addition, trying new oils and combinations can be an enjoyable and practical experience as one becomes more comfortable with the application methods.

      Peppermint oil: 

      Peppermint oil is known for its therapeutic properties, making it a valuable addition to any wellness routine. To experience its benefits, dilute peppermint oil in water and gently apply it to your muscles for topical relief after a rigorous workout.

      Lavender

      Lavender essential oil is widely recognized for its soothing scent and therapeutic benefits in aromatherapy. This chemical compound is extracted from the leaves of the Lavender plant and is known for its calming effects. 

      According to a study conducted in 2018, Lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and edema by limiting the body's nitric oxide and histamine responses. The study showed that topical application and oral consumption of Lavender essential oil effectively achieved this benefit. In addition to its anti-inflammatory benefits, Lavender essential oil has been found to alleviate muscle pain.

      One way to experience its benefits is by using the Sacksythyme Hot Therapy Relief Lavender Heating Pad on targeted muscle areas.

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      Eucalyptus

      The essential oil extracted from Eucalyptus leaves possesses a potent aroma compared to other essential oils.

      Nevertheless, it still exhibits unique antioxidant and analgesic properties. Its chemical composition is akin to Lavender and has been demonstrated in various research studies to have anti-inflammatory effects by limiting the production of prostaglandins that cause swelling.

      Anti-Inflammatory Medications

      Muscle soreness from routine exertion is a pain, but thankfully, some medications can help with that - like ibuprofen. Unfortunately, you can't just pop a pill and get rid of that muscle pain. The medicine won't make your muscles feel better faster; it will only relieve some discomfort. If you are struggling with the pain, take some time off to heal and get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, which may also help reduce the severity of your symptoms!

      Ways to Prevent Muscle Soreness After Exercise

      • Warm up before you exercise. A good warm-up helps to increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare them for activity. A good warm-up should last 5-10 minutes and include dynamic stretches like arm circles and leg swings.
      • Cool down after you exercise. A good cool-down helps your body to transition from exercise to rest. A good cool-down should last at least 5-10 minutes and include static stretches, such as holding a hamstring stretch for 30 seconds.
      • Hydrate properly. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and soreness. Ensure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise.
      • Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to recover from exercise. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
      • Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for muscle recovery. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

      Here are some additional tips for preventing muscle soreness:

      • Listen to your body. If you are feeling pain, stop the activity and rest.
      • Don't push yourself too hard. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time.
      • Vary your workouts. Doing different workouts will help prevent your muscles from getting too used to the same movements.
      • Use different muscle groups. When working out, focus on different muscle groups each day. This will help to give your muscles time to recover.

      "This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your physician to determine a treatment plan that is right for you."

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