5 Ways to Massage Sore Muscles Without Paying a Fortune
If you’ve ever tried a few new moves out at the gym and worked muscle groups that you’re not used to typically working so hard, then you know the feeling of post-workout muscle soreness. While you may feel accomplished to have your muscles aching for days after you’ve worked them harder than they’ve ever been worked before, muscle soreness can be a major nuisance if you’re looking to continue your everyday exercise routine.
It might seem convenient to head over to a massage therapist to see if they can work out your muscle soreness, but at $60 an hour, it might be smarter to skip it and spend your week limping around your office instead. While all sore muscles that have come as a result of exercise will return back to normal in about a week’s time or less, there are things you can do to bring yourself some relief — and it doesn’t involve emptying your bank account, either. Here are five ways to massage your sore muscles without breaking the bank.
1. Try yoga
Whether you’re the weight-lifting type or you can’t wait to go for a run in the mornings, sore muscles can greatly benefit from some yoga. When your muscles are so sore that you feel as if you can barely move them, the worse thing is to stop movement altogether. While a full-blown workout may feel like an impossible task to complete, the best thing you can do for your muscles is to keep them moving, and yoga is perfect for this.
Greatist explains that practicing yoga as part of your workout recovery routine is helpful for increasing flexibility and avoiding stiffness when your muscles become sore from that new routine you started. The goal here isn’t to overextend your muscles and cause injury to your already sore body — it is to lightly stretch any sore areas using your own body weight or a light resistance band if you have one. Try holding a bridge pose on the ground for 30 seconds to stretch your back and abs, or hold a resistance band with both hands behind your head and “floss” back and forth to stretch your shoulders and upper back. You can also use a resistance band to lightly stretch the hamstrings on the floor, but make sure to keep moving through the stretches. Static stretching should only be performed after you’ve already been moving for awhile, so moving through your stretches will loosen up your muscles and help your soreness.
2. Take an ice bath
Warm baths are soothing for the body and mind, when it comes to mending those tired and sore muscles, it might be the ice bath that reigns supreme. Chris Bleakley, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Ulster, reports for WebMD that the only better way to relieve muscle soreness other than an ice bath is to rest. If you’re eager to get back to your routine asap, then consider this chilly alternative, as it can reduce your muscle soreness by up to 20%.
Ice baths may be the ticket to reducing muscle soreness because the ice may soothe the inflammation caused by muscle damage. Researchers found that those who took ice baths following their exercise reported less pain in the previously sore areas, leading them to believe that perhaps the ice water reduced the swelling of the muscles, allowing for better mobility. Some researchers still maintain that the ice bath only works because of the placebo effect it has on athletes, but because so many athletes report a shorter recovery period when submerging themselves in ice water, it’s worth a try. Alternatively, if you find that warm baths give your muscles the soothing effect you’re looking for, then go that direction instead.
3. Grab a foam roller
If you’re not quite brave enough to dunk your body into an ice bath and you don’t want to spend the money on a deep-tissue massage, then do yourself a favor and get a foam roller. This exercise device is the perfect tool for giving yourself that massage you so badly want for your sore muscles, and you may be surprised by how well these devices actually work. If you don’t have a foam roller, then a lacrosse ball or ball of similar size can have the same benefits when used as a massaging agent.
According to Breaking Muscle, the point of a foam roller is to “roll” over trigger points in the body to release muscle tightness and aid in faster muscle recovery. Trigger points are “knots” that form in the muscles, and when you foam roll over them, you’ll feel pain or discomfort. While rolling over these trigger points can be uncomfortable, you’ll work out the “knots” in your muscles and allow for faster recovery from soreness. With continuous foam rolling, you’ll also notice that your flexibility and workout performance may improve. You’ll have more blood flow to the muscles, which means a better functioning and more able body to perform all of your workout moves, new and old.
4. Add turmeric to your diet
If you’re not well-acquainted with the popular Indian spice turmeric, then start adding it into your dishes if you want to see a real difference in your muscle soreness. Turmeric contains an extract called curcumin, which has long been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for its anti-inflammatory benefits, explains Runner’s World.
A study from the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that researchers supplied men with a curcumin supplement, and then these men performed a leg-press exercise on one leg that was meant to cause some serious muscle soreness. The researchers found that the supplement actually caused a decrease in muscle pain after the soreness had already set in, and the circumin even reduced muscle damage and inflammation in the worked leg. With results like these, it looks like circumin could be one of the best extracts out there for avid exercisers who want to continuously workout as much as possible without the soreness. Because you can receive these benefits by eating turmeric, this method is way cheaper than a single massage session will ever be.
5. Do a concentric workout with light weights
A concentric workout is an exercise that incorporates small contractions of the muscle groups — if you’re thinking that sounds like what happens in most weight-lifting scenarios, then you’d be correct. During a bicep curl, the lifting motion is the concentric movement, for example. According to the Poliquin Group, your sore muscles may actually benefit and feel less sore if you practice some concentric movements with light weights during your bouts of soreness.
While you may be focusing on lifting the heaviest weight possible while still maintaining proper form during your ordinary workout days, try doing those same small muscle contractions with very light weights, or no weight at all. Studies show that practicing concentric biceps curls for four days following a seriously tough workout that incorporates both concentric and eccentric exercise resulted in a decrease in muscle soreness by up to 40%. You’ll also feel a lot less stiff when you keep those muscles moving, so your range of motion will increase as well. Scientists believe that the more you train, the smaller your inflammatory response is, so keep training and eventually, your muscle soreness will be easy to manage.