Exercise is good for you but as with anything worthwhile, it’s not always easy—especially when you feel the burn post-workout. It’s normal to experience some soreness after exercising and there’s even a term for that achiness that comes about a day after a gym session: delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.
It’s been said that “pain is weakness leaving the body,” and indeed, DOMS is a sign that your body is on its way to getting stronger. But even knowing that doesn’t make it any less unpleasant. These are some tips on how to relieve sore muscles fast:
- Get some rest. There’s only so much strain your body can take. Going hard at the gym day after day can be counterproductive as you don’t give your muscles time to repair themselves. If you can’t stand the thought of sitting idle, incorporate days of active rest into your workout program. This means that you’ll still get some movement in but nothing so strenuous—a walk or a yoga session are some options.
- Stretch it out. Get the tightness out of your muscles by stretching every day, not just post-workout.
- Get a massage. You can go to the spa or give yourself a massage with a foam roller, massage stick, or baseball.
Read this for more detailed tips on post-workout recovery.
The Salt Solution
Another way to help minimize the pain after working out is by taking a salt bath. A warm bath in general can already help relax you but throwing in the added goodness of salt and its minerals gives you a recipe for natural muscle recovery. Some bath salts are even mixed with essential oils that give off calming scents for added relaxation.
Try a once-a-week soak to start with then work up to twice or thrice a week. Take note that salt has a drying effect on skin so you might want to slather on some lotion after each soak, especially if you have naturally dry skin.
Some of the salts for muscle recovery that you can try are:
Epsom salt. There haven’t been any conclusive studies to prove the science behind Epsom salt baths but it’s a popular post-workout recovery method. It’s believed that the magnesium in Epsom salt relieves muscle soreness by reducing inflammation and relaxing muscles, and that the combination of magnesium and warm water can help remove toxins from the body.
To use, pour 2 cups of Epsom salt into a bathtub of warm water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. It’s not advised for those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
Try: White Mountain Epsom Salt, available at Healthy Options.
Himalayan bath salt. The salt from the Himalayas in Pakistan has a distinctive pink hue and is sprinkled on food as well as used to make salt lamps (which supposedly have their own health benefits aside from providing a pretty aesthetic).
Himalayan salt rooms are also offered at some spas abroad, a relaxing environment where you can breathe in the goodness of the pink stuff purportedly to help clear airways and reduce inflammation.
Himalayan salt gets its pink color from minerals like magnesium and potassium. As with Epsom salt, the minerals supposedly help reduce swelling and the warm bath provides a relaxing experience. Whether it’s a placebo effect or not, you’ll be tickled pink by a Himalayan salt bath.
Try: Aloha Bay Himalayan Bath Salt, available at Healthy Options.
Sea salt infused with essential oils. Your tired, sore muscles can benefit from the minerals in any sea salt bath but you can get added relaxation points with a soothing scent. Try a sea salt infused with lavender: A study published in the Journal of the Medial Association of Thailand found that lavender oil caused “significant decreases of blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, which indicated a decrease of autonomic arousal.” Lavender was also found to put study subjects in a better mood.
No bath tub? Try a warm shower and use a salt scrub. The gentle scrubbing can help stimulate circulation. And who doesn’t feel like a new person after stepping out of the shower?
Try: Soothing Touch Scrub Salt in Lavender, available at Healthy Options.
Whichever salt for muscle recovery you choose, make sure to complement it with a post-workout meal and plenty of water to help your body get back on track faster.