This Is the Best Way to Treat Sore Muscles After a Workout

For multiple people, the mark of a fantastic workout is waking up with sore muscles. Common as it is, though, there’s still a lot of uncertainty about soreness. Can you work out when you’re sore? Do you require to treat sore muscles? Is soreness a cause for concern?

Dr. Ryan Lingor, a primary care sports physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, answers all of your questions about muscle soreness.

Is soreness bad?

Not usually. “When people are initiating a new workout regimen, it’s true common to develop soreness,” Lingor says. Soreness is further common after people incorporate new moves or additional weight into their existing routine. “It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to stop the exercise or they have an injury.”

How sore is too sore?

Experiencing a few soreness is fine — but there are a few red flags that may suggest your pain isn’t normal. Soreness is typical symmetrical, Lingor says, so if you experience significantly more pain on one side of the body, it may be a sign of a pulled muscle or other injury. Normal soreness should further develop between 24 and 36 hours after your workout and recede within about three days; if it persists longer, Lingor says, it may be a sign of something more serious.

Perhaps the biggest thing to look out for, however, is a change in urine color, that may indicate a relatively rare but potentially serious over-training condition called rhabdomyolysis. “Sometimes you can get something where the muscles start to break down in an abnormal fashion,” Lingor says. “That muscle breakdown filters over the kidneys and turns the urine dark.” If you notice that your urine looks darker or brown in the days after an intense workout, consult a doctor.

How do you help sore muscles after a workout?

Light activity is the best treatment for muscle soreness, Lingor says. “There’s no true effective treatment for delayed-onset muscle soreness. The best thing actually is low-impact activity,” he says. Time further helps.

Common strategies such as stretching, icing and applying heat aren’t harmful, Lingor says, but “there’s mixed evidence about whether those stuff are helpful or not.”

Can you work out when you’re sore?

Yes. Since light activity is the best cure for soreness, Lingor says he recommends people swim or do other low-impact exercise when they’re left with aching muscles.

As long as you don’t see any of the above red flags, Lingor says there’s no medical reason to stay away from higher-intensity workouts either, although the discomfort may be enough to prompt a rest day.

How can you prevent soreness?

While soreness is to be likely when you start or intensify an exercise routine, Lingor says you can minimize its impact by staying properly hydrated, recovering adequately after a difficult workout and eating healthy sources of carbohydrates and protein after exercising.

Otherwise, merely look at your tender muscles as a sign that you’re mixing it up a the gym. “Variety is a fantastic thing,” Lingor says, and soreness “just kind of comes with the territory.”

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