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Pain game: how to beat muscle soreness

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Betty Doyling (Photograph supplied)

Exercise can be painful! If you’ve ever done a really tough leg workout, you know what I’m talking about. Your muscles take a real beating. To make things worse, it’s impossible to escape the pain even a day or two later — those ten sets of squats will come back to haunt you.

Think you can walk up the stairs or sit on the toilet? Think again! Recovery can take a few days, however, there are things you can do before, during, and after your workout to speed up the process and make it a little more bearable.

Try out these tips to help you bounce back a lot faster:


To prepare your body for a tough workout, warm up properly. Jog on the treadmill, crank out a few sets of body weight exercises or, if you live close enough, walk to the gym instead of driving. A good warm-up adds just ten minutes to your workout and will pay off big-time when you’re more comfortable the next day. If it’s a heavy lifting day, warm up with lighter weights first. Work your joints through a full range of motion, to get some blood flowing.


Your hydration plan should be twofold: first, sip water throughout your workout. Second, keep drinking after you finish. Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches and dizziness. Research shows that dehydration also increases symptoms of delayed-onset muscle soreness. Speed up your recovery and drink!


If there’s ever a time to treat yourself to a massage, it’s after a tough training session. A rubdown can reduce feelings of delayed-onset muscle soreness by a whopping 30 per cent. Some therapists are covered by insurance, but if professional massages aren’t in your budget, self-myofascial release is a cheaper and equally effective alternative. The technique involves using a firm object such as a foam roller or rubber ball to apply pressure to your muscles. This can be used before and after your workout.


It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout session. After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. Doing this helps your body decrease muscle protein breakdown and enhances muscle growth.


Make sleep a priority. If you don’t, everything from your performance to your mood can suffer, which may ruin your next workout. Try to get seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night; if you’ve just finished a particularly challenging session, try to hit the higher end of that range. To make getting to sleep and staying asleep easier, invest in a good mattress and buy quality pillows and sheets.

Keep moving

When you can barely walk upstairs without cringing, the last thing you probably feel like doing is exercising, but do it anyway. Exercising immediately after a tough workout temporarily alleviates symptoms of delayed-onset muscle soreness. Go for a walk, do yoga, or go for a bike ride on your off days! You’ll recover faster and get back to the activities you love. Speed up your recovery and B-Active For Life!

Betty Doyling is a certified fitness trainer and figure competitor with more than a decade of experience. Check her out on Facebook: facebook.com/B.ActiveForLife

Betty Doyling (Photograph supplied)
Betty Doyling (Photograph supplied)