Whether you hit the gym hard, sat for too long or woke up feeling like the tin man, being stiff is not only uncomfortable, it could also limit your ability to participate fully in your favorite activities. The good news is there are a few all-natural things you can do to help get your body back in action quickly.
Here are five of my favorite ways to help a stiff, sore body bounce back fast:
1. Gentle movement
It may seem counterintuitive when you feel like you’re a puppet made of wood, but some gentle movement can help relieve stiffness almost instantly. This is especially helpful for those who may have overdone it at the gym. Even though you may just want to rest on the couch all day, that won’t help relieve your pain. An easy-paced walk, light swim or some tai chi can get your blood flowing so you can begin to move more freely.
One of the best ways to counteract the rigidity in your body is to stretch. By definition, the more flexible and pliable any object is (including your body), the less stiff it is. If you wake up feeling stiff, try starting your day with some easy full-body stretches. Feeling tight after a long flight? Stretching can help. If you aren’t sure where to start with stretching, check out seven of my favorite flexibility moves for relieving tension and tightness and improving range of motion.
This one is particularly great if you are experiencing stiffness due to sore muscles or joint pain. Soaking in warm water improves circulation, relaxes muscles and loosens up stiff joints. Relaxing in a bath or hot tub even for just 10–15 minutes can provide relief from the aches and pains caused by stiff muscles and joints. Many find that magnesium-rich Epsom salts help enhance the rejuvenating benefits of the warm water.
Not only can massage therapy help reduce inflammation and soothe soreness and stiffness, but it also helps calm both the body and mind. If you enjoy massages, schedule one anytime you experience tightness or tension in your body. For the best possible benefit, be sure to discuss your needs with your massage therapist before your appointment. The right amount of pressure is important, so be sure to communicate with your therapist about what feels best for your body, as the goal is to help relieve pain, not induce more.
5. Foam Rolling
Warning: This one may not make you feel better while you’re doing it. However, it can certainly help work out muscle knots and replenish blood flow, which can go a long way in loosening up your body. Foam rolling before or after a workout may help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness and may help improve performance both in and out of the gym by increasing your range of motion and potentially reducing your risk of injury. Learn more about the benefits of foam rolling and how to do it properly.
It’s important to note that if you regularly experience the pain of muscle or joint stiffness, or if you have a medical condition that causes these symptoms such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, you may need to talk with your doctor about any physical and dietary changes and/or supplements you can use to help ease your discomfort.