5 Cheap and Effective Ways to Cope with Sore Muscles after Workout
Whether you want to get fit for the first time in your life or whether you are already an avid exerciser and want to change up your routine, you both share one thing in common: post-workout muscle soreness can really derail your fitness goals. When you try a new routine, you strain your muscles in a new way, which can cause muscle soreness until your muscles adapt. But that soreness can make it difficult to get yourself back into that exercise routine. Fortunately, there are strategies to ease that muscle soreness no matter your budget. Below are 5 cheap and effective ways to cope with sore muscles after a workout.
Use a Personal Massager
Sports massage has many benefits, such as reducing recovery time and easing muscle soreness. It relaxes your tight muscles as well as your mind, increases blood flow, improves your performance levels such as flexibility and range of motion, and in general, just makes you feel better. The problem is, a one-hour massage from a professional massage therapist can get exorbitantly expensive!
Fortunately, you can simulate the effects of a sports massage at an economical price by purchasing a personal massager. There are massagers for every budget and preference, from rolling balls that relax the pressure points to rotating disks that simulate a deep-tissue massage. The best part is this one-time purchase will get you many hours of soothing massages, so even if you invest in a higher-end massager, you are still spending much less than you would on several sessions with a massage therapist.
Use an Ice Bath
A cheap remedy for muscle soreness that you most likely already have access to in your own home is an ice bath. You might turn up your nose at dunking yourself into ice water, but studies show that taking an ice bath is just as effective at easing muscle soreness as some of the other remedies that appear on this list. The best part is that if you have a bathtub and a freezer with an ice machine home use, then you already have all of the materials that you need.
An ice bath helps combat muscle soreness because ice stops swelling by constricting the blood vessels (which is part of why an ice pack is such an effective step in treating muscle injuries). When taking an ice bath, you should follow the same precautions that you use when you apply ice to an injury–only ice 20 minutes at a time, and don’t be afraid to start a little warmer until you figure out your cold tolerance.
Wear Compression Socks
Another remedy for post-workout muscle soreness mentioned in the previous study is to wear compression socks. These are particularly helpful for runners and those who participate in high-impact sports because they help alleviate muscle cramps in the feet and calves, provide support for the ankles, and soothe shin splints. You can also tailor them to your needs—if your issue is sore feet and ankles, you only need ankle socks (which will be the cheaper option). If you struggle with shin splints and sore calf muscles, you can opt for a taller sock.
Compression socks work because constricting the muscles helps increase the blood flow to your affected muscles. Increased blood flow means that your muscles are getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to repair the damage and flush out waste. As a result, the muscles recover faster.
Take an Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever
Some people shy away from using medicine to manage pain, but over-the-counter pain relievers are some of the most effective remedies for muscle soreness. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can alleviate the symptoms of pain, but since most muscle soreness is caused by inflammation, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve) is your best bet for long-term relief.
The important thing to remember is to pay attention to dosage instructions (how many pills, how many hours apart), as too much acetaminophen too frequently can damage your liver, while too many NSAIDs can harm your stomach. Taking the right dosage for you will reduce the pain and inflammation in your muscles so that you can go about your day and get back into your exercise routine that much sooner.
Try Light Activity
This may seem counterintuitive since exercise is what is causing your pain in the first place, but studies show that light activity such as stretching or a light walk is another cheap and effective way to cope with muscle soreness. It is also the cheapest strategy, as it doesn’t require any equipment, special clothing, or pills. You just need your own body and a space to move around in.
One of your biggest concerns when experiencing muscle soreness after a workout is losing your flexibility and range of motion. Engaging in gentle activity helps your aching muscles by keeping them warm, flexible, and limber. You don’t want to push it too hard, of course, as that would increase your risk of injury and lengthen your recovery time. The important thing is to listen to your body and stop if it becomes painful.
In short, muscle soreness is a painful and inconvenient part of starting a new exercise routine, but you don’t have to break the bank in order to cope with it. Some of the most effective strategies include investing in a personal massager, taking an ice bath, using compression socks, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, and light stretching and exercise. By using any one (or more) of these strategies, you will be feeling back to normal and ready to start exercising again in no time.