Sore muscles are inevitable when you’re active. Think of them as a bonus for moving closer to your fitness goals. You’re feeling the micro-tears your sweat session caused in your muscles — which, as they heal, makes you stronger.
Still, the actual experience of achy muscles isn’t fun. Nobody wants to wince every time they stand up. No wonder you can find tons of products and strategies for alleviating sore muscles. If nothing you’ve tried works, consider the strategies below trainers use when they need to ease the ache.
“When I’m super sore, I take the next day off from working out, but walk as much as I can to keep the blood flowing, which helps to reduce inflammation,” explains Dani Tsukerman, a personal trainer and owner of Very Personal Training in Brooklyn. “The day after that, I go back to my workouts, but I do a lighter recovery version and don’t use weights. It seems counterintuitive, but it can actually help with the soreness.”
“Usually I will foam roll for a while and then do either a gentle yoga flow or some low-intensity cardio to get the blood flowing and ease muscle soreness,” says Morit Summers, owner of Form Fitness in Brooklyn, New York. “I also find that a warm shower or a heating pad works wonders. One of my nightly rituals when I have muscle aches is to take a warm shower. Then I put on a CBD balm and lay with the heating pad. I always feel really good the next day.”
“I prioritize sleep over any other nightly indulgence, including Netflix,” says Mike Clancy, a fitness and nutrition expert from MikeClancyTraining. “I make a commitment to be in bed seven and a half hours prior to my alarm going off. This simple strategy alone has been far more effective than any fancy aids or supplements.”
“For me, there’s nothing like firm, pointed pressure in a really sore spot to give me instant and enjoyable release,” says Kira Macoun, a functional trainer and somatics movement teacher and owner of Comfy Fitness in Chicago. “Using my hand, a foam roller or a myofascial release ball, I’ll press into the point, take a deep breath and then release it. Or I’ll get a massage from a therapist or my husband.”
“When my muscles hurt, I hang upside down in a suspension hammock for 3–5 minutes, rest a minute to re-calibrate and then repeat. I find this tractions the joints in my spine, increases blood flow and allows a few minutes of gravity-free living on my bones, muscles and joints,” says Janis Isaman, founder of My Body Couture.
“Usually the day after a workout I’ll use Hypervolt [a targeted massage device] throughout the day to help relieve whatever area is sore or tight. If I’m still sore the next day, I’ll use the foam roller or PVC pipe throughout the day for as much time as I need. That way I can really put all my weight into the sore area and ‘massage’ it out,” says Mike Donavanik, certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder of Sweat Factor. “If the area is super sore, I’ll use a topical CBD solution. It’s like Icy Hot with CBD.”