How to Get Rid of Sore Muscles

Three Parts:Practicing Home CareMaking Lifestyle ChangesSeeking Medical Care

Sore muscles can be caused by overexertion or underlying medical conditions. Most of the time, sore muscles will go away on their own without medical treatment. You can use home remedies and lifestyle changes to ease the pain until soreness passes. However, sore muscles that persist for a week or more should be evaluated by a doctor.

Part 1
Practicing Home Care

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    Practice R.I.C.E. R.I.C.E is a treatment method for sore muscles that stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Following the principles of R.I.C.E can help with muscle soreness.
    • Resting simply means taking break from your normal activities. If your muscles are sore, take it easy for a few days and allow them to heal.[1]
    • Ice the sore area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time three times a day. You can use a bag of frozen vegetables, ice cubes placed in a plastic Ziplock bag, or an ice pack from the supermarket. Never place a store bought ice pack directly on your skin, however. You should always wrap it in a towel before application.[2]
    • Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling of the sore area. You can buy such a bandage at a local drugstore. Apply as directed.[3] You may want to check with your doctor if you have a family history of blood clots before using a compression bandage.
    • Elevate the sore area, if possible. It's best to elevate a sore muscle above the heart whenever you have the opportunity to do so.[4]
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    Soak in the tub. Heat can help with sore muscles. Soaking in a warm tub of water for about 20 minutes can help ease sore muscles.[5] Some people claim Epsom salt helps ease sore muscles. You can add a handful of Epsom salt to a warm bath and allow it to dissolve. You can find Epsom salt at most local pharmacies.[6]
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    Apply heat after 48 to 72 hours. If your muscles are still sore 2 or 3 days after treatment, consider applying heat. You can use a heating pad or run warm water over a washcloth. If you use a heating pad or a heated blanket, make sure you do not fall asleep with it on as this can be a burn hazard.[7]
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    Try over-the-counter pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can be used to treat sore muscles. Take any medications as directed on the label. If you're on any prescription medications currently, you may want to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking over-the-counter pills to make sure they do not interact poorly with your existing medications.[8]
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    Try foam rolling. Foam rolling is an inexpensive technique to get an at-home massage. A foam roller, which can be purchased at many sports good stores, is a foam cylinder that's 6 inches in diameter. To use a foam roller, lie on the floor with the foam roller beneath you. Gently roll your body along the foam roller where the muscle is sore. Do this 5 to 6 times a week for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. You can look up more specific foam rolling techniques online. Websites like YouTube may provide tutorials.[9]
    • You can also check out How to Use a Foam Roller.

Part 2
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Eat a proper diet. A diet full of protein and fatty acids will help your muscles. Aim for 20 grams of high-quality protein every few hours throughout the day. Fatty acids can be found in nuts, seeds, and fish. If you are having trouble getting your fatty acids, ask your doctor about fish oil supplements.[10]
    • Include a foods from the four major food groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy. Aim for low-fat dairy products, lean meats like fish and poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole wheat breads and pastas, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Make sure to eat a lot of leafy greens like spinach and lettuce.[11]
    • Try to cook at home when you can. Avoid fast food, eating out, and frozen meals. Sticking to the basics, items easily found in the local grocery store, can help make eating healthy easier.[12]
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    Drink enough water after working out. Dehydration can cause a variety of problems including muscle soreness.[13] Make sure you hydrate adequately before working out in order to avoid muscle soreness.
    • You should aim to drink 20 to 24 ounces of water for each hour you work out. Drink water before, during, and after a workout.[14]
    • A good way to test your hydration is observing your urine color. Within a few hours of your workout, your urine should be clear or light yellow. Dark urine indicates possibly dehydration.[15]
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    Warm up before exercise. A proper warm-up increases muscle temperature. When the muscle temperature is warm, it contracts more forcefully and relaxes more quickly. This helps you get more out of your workout and reduces your chance of injury and muscle soreness. If you’re doing a leg workout, try a 10 minute run to warm up. If you’re focusing on upper body, try a lightweight shoulder circuit to warm up. Ask a trainer at the gym if you’re not sure which workout will cater to you best. You can also talk to your doctor about ways to warm up before exercise.[16]
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    Stretch. Stretching throughout the day or after working out can greatly relieve muscle soreness. Work on incorporating stretching into your day-to-day routine if you want to prevent sore muscles.
    • Always cool down after exercise. You should spend 10 minutes or so after a workout doing light aerobics, walking, or stretching. You can find stretching techniques online or talk to your doctor or trainer on how to best stretch after a workout.[17]
    • Soreness in the neck and shoulders, sometimes caused by using a computer at work, can be treated with occasional stretching. Try rolling your shoulders backwards and down 10 times, squeezing your shoulder blades together 10 times, or bringing your ears to your shoulders 10 times. Such exercises are quick and can be done on the car on the way to work or during downtime at your office.[18]
    • Workout routines like yoga and Pilates focus on stretching the muscles. You can look for yoga and Pilates classes in your area. You can also find easy to follow routines online.

Part 3
Seeking Medical Care

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    Know when a doctor's visit is necessary. Sore muscles are usually not a major medical concern and will heal on their own with rest. However, under certain conditions you should see a doctor for evaluation.
    • You should go to the ER if sore muscles are accompanied by trouble breathing, dizziness, extreme muscle weakness, or a high fever and stiff neck.[19]
    • If you have a tick bite or rash accompanied by sore muscles, see your doctor for evaluation.[20]
    • Soreness around the calves after exercise should be evaluated by your doctor.[21]
    • Signs of infection around a sore muscle, like redness or swelling, should be looked at by a doctor. If your muscles suddenly became sore after you started taking new medication, talk to your doctor.[22]
    • Any muscle soreness that lasts longer than a week should be evaluated by a doctor.[23]
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    Make an appointment with your physician. If you think your muscle soreness requires medical attention, make an appointment with your physician. He or she should be able to evaluate your muscle pain and make a plan for treatment.
    • At your appointment, your doctor will ask you a variety of questions regarding your pain. He or she will want to know when your pain started, how long it's lasted, its location, any medications you're taking, and whether you have any other symptoms.[24]
    • Depending on your medical history, your doctor may order certain tests. He or she may want to do x-rays, a blood count, or other blood tests. This can help check for certain medical conditions that can cause sore muscles.[25]
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    Get a professional massage. Therapeutic deep-tissue massage can help relieve muscle soreness, especially if it's done after you exercise.[26] If you have consistent muscle soreness, talk to your doctor about the possibility of a medical massage referral. Often, insurance companies will cover medical massage if it treats a medical condition.
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    Attend physical therapy if necessary. If your sore muscles are the result of an injury, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. The type and duration of physical depends on your current health, medical history, and the specific cause of your muscle soreness. Your doctor should be able to provide you with a referral to a physical therapist.[27]

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Categories: Building Muscle & Strength | Warm Ups Stretching and Flexibility