4 things you should be doing when you've got sore muscles.

Image via iStock.

We’ve all been there: You go to the gym, work out a little too hard and wake up barely being able to move. The thought of working out that day seems ludicrous, but could you benefit from it? And how should you go about it?

Ali Cavill, personal trainer and owner of Fit Fantastic recommends that rather than sitting on the couch waiting to recover, the best thing to do is some light movement (even if it’s the last thing you feel like).

1. Light exercise.

“Light stretching and walking are great on these days. It will actually help you to get back into your routine faster,” she explains.

By doing what you can manage, rather than nothing at all, you can ease back into your usual routine faster. 

2. Get acquainted with a foam roller.

If you just rolled your eyes, a great option for you could be using a foam roller.

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“Using a foam roller is a great way to recover – it really helps to release muscle tightness,”  Cavill says.

Rolling over the foam (“self-myofascial release”, if you want to get fancy) helps release pressure which builds up in your muscles and fascia, which is the connective tissue.

Working these knots out of your body with a roller helps to prevent injuries and, according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, it can also improve your body’s flexibility. (Post continues after gallery.)

3. Get hot AND cold.

Using heat and ice therapy, which increases blood flow around your body, can also help to speed up muscle recovery. And, no, it doesn’t have to be the extreme type you may have seen AFL players doing (all of that jumping into icey cold water business).

“For an average person, with a normal amount of exercise, using heat and ice packs simultaneously is a great way to recover. Another way is to jump in a cool shower and hop into a warm bath and alternate that way,” explains Cavill.

4. Eat right.

Proper nutrition can also help you to recover faster, believe it or not. Cavill recommends eating proteins and carbohydrates the day following a big workout to help you to recover faster.


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According to the Australian Institute of Sportproteins and carbohydrates are great post-exercise as they help to reduce the degree of muscle protein breakdown and ensure adequate glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are maintained.

Staying hydrated is also very important as dehydration can make muscle soreness even more painful.

Staying hydrated is crucial when you are feeling sore after a workout. (Image via iStock.)

Can I exercise when I'm really sore?

When your muscles are really sore, how can you know whether you're capable of hitting the gym again or not?

"It's OK to have a bit of muscles soreness, every athlete will experience soreness, and a little is normal," explains Cavill.

"If you are feeling very sore, then I would recommend getting back to the gym and starting out light. Gradually work back into your normal routine."

However, if you're seriously worried, be sure to see a health professional.