They always say “no pain, no gain”, but how much pain are you expected to sit back and take, anyway? Some aches after exercise are to be expected, especially if you’ve been out of the habit for a while or you’re pushing yourself harder to achieve new goals. But they don’t have to be quite as bad, nor do they have to keep you off your feet for quite as long. Here, we’re going to look at what you can do about them.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
Listen to your body when you’re at the gym, especially if you’re just getting started. You should err on the side of caution when it comes to deciding whether a pain is a good pain or a potentially dangerous pain. Finish your rep unless you feel an unfamiliar tightness, tension, or pain, but know your limits and don’t be afraid to cut a session short. It simply gives you a target to beat next time. Much better than running the risk of actually injuring yourself.
Opt For Low-Impact Exercises
There’s good muscle pain, then there’s joint pain, which is practically never good. If you’re experiencing joint pain, it’s a good indication that you need some strength training and mobility improving exercises. But it’s also a sign that your current routine is too high-impact. For instance, running causes a lot of impact on the knees and ankles, which can cause them to become inflamed and sore.
If you’re experiencing joint or back pain from your exercise, you should switch your aerobics to something like swimming, which has tons of benefits, or cycling. At the same time, you should incorporate those strength and flexibility training exercises, such as yoga, once those pains have subsided. That way, you should be able to better handle high-impact exercises in the future.
Stretch It Out
Are you taking the time before and after your routines to make sure that your body is properly prepared for the strain ahead and easing into a more relaxed state? If not, you could be doing yourself more harm than good with your exercises. Improving your flexibility and core strength with exercises like yoga can help you recover more quickly. However, you’re still likely to cause yourself an injury if you don’t stretch before and after an exercise.
A full routine of stretches should include at least six different stretches, each held for at least 30 seconds, including your calves, hamstrings, arms, back, and hips. Don’t forget to temper the beginning and end of your routine with an easier-going warm up and warm down exercise. It’ll release all that tension that might otherwise cause inflammation when your body is at rest.
Tackle Inflammation Directly
There is a range of ways to improve your recovery directly after exercise. But first, let’s start with what doesn’t work as effectively as you might imagine. Cooling gels and topical treatments feel good, easing the pain, but they have no impact on the actual inflammation that causes the worst of it.
That doesn’t mean there are no solutions, however. Herbal tea reduces pain and inflammation, even helping those with arthritis and tendonitis, so consider making it a part of your diet. Massages, using an ice pack on pained areas, and taking a warm bath shortly after the exercise can help you banish the pain even sooner.
Give Yourself Real Recovery Time
Just as you should be listening to your body during exercise, you should listen to it afterwards as well. Even if it goes against your planned regimen, if your body is experiencing consistent muscle pain the day after your routine, you should let it rest. This doesn’t mean a complete day of bed rest, however, as some light activity is also essential for aiding the recovery process, but it doesn’t need to be much more than a brisk walk and plenty of stretching.
You can also aid your natural recovery from intense workouts by ensuring that you get a good night’s sleep. For that reason, try not to exercise too late in the evening as it can disrupt your nights.
Managing those aches and pains after exercise isn’t just going to make the whole effort a lot more pleasant. It’s also going to ensure that you recover more quickly from your sessions, so you’re ready to get back up and get back to it all the sooner. If you want to reach those fitness goals, you need to treat yourself with a little tenderness (so you don’t feel quite so tender).