Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been hitting the gym (or road, or whatever) for a long time you know what a pain exercise can be. And, I mean that literally! We’ve all had sore muscles and all over achiness at least a time or two from a rigorous workout or even a day spent doing household chores! We could all use some natural workout recovery tips!
Often a dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen helps take the edge off so you can go about your day. But If you’re constantly challenging yourself or trying a bunch of new stuff in an attempt to find your perfect workout match you may experience muscle soreness more often than not! In that case taking something daily might be a bit too much! Especially considering the health risks and side effects of over the counter medicine. If you haven’t heard, ibuprofen has been linked to heart attack and stroke and acetaminophen to liver toxicity. So, taking either daily or even once a week for an extended period of time is a BIG health no-no! What are you to do to help alleviate that achiness? Luckily there are all kinds of home remedies!
Are you consistently drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water a day? Do you avoid caffeine and alcohol? If you said no to either of those questions, then you need to drink more water!
Dehydration has several side effects and one of them is body aches. This is especially true if you workout and get nice and sweaty! Simply drinking more water will help your body recover faster and is likely to prevent muscle soreness in the future as well!
Tips to Get Enough
If you’re one of those people who just “doesn’t like water” or you struggle to get it in, here are a few tips.
- Carry a large water bottle with you everywhere you go.
- Pre-fill your water containers (I use jars) for the next day and make it a goal to drink them all.
- Create timed goals throughout the day. This works great with the jar method above, for example, drink 2 jars before lunch, 2 more before dinner etc.
- Drink sparkling water with fruit or a touch of juice added (think 16 oz water to 2 oz juice).
- Add fruit, herbs or cucumber slices to your water. This is a delicious addition.
I always carry a large water bottle AND I like to fill jars and add fruit or cucumbers and leave them overnight. Frozen berries and cherries are delicious in water and super easy to add!
You can count any non-alcoholic, decaffeinated, and unsweetened you drink as water. You should avoid all sweetened beverages, even those with artificial sweeteners. But you should count decaffeinated tea and even kombucha (if there’s no artificial sugar). Just go easy on the juice!
Would you expect your car to run properly if you put maple syrup in it instead of gasoline? I think the answer is pretty obvious! But, a lot of people expect their bodies to function at optimal performance with minimal or garbage fuel!
Here’s the thing… for proper cell function and recovery you need to eat enough and eat properly! And that means plenty of fat and plants along with your protein!
Oftentimes people start a workout regimen for the purpose of weight loss. There’s nothing wrong with that! Just don’t forget that you are burning more calories and you need to eat an appropriate amount!
Just like the example above about fueling your car with maple syrup instead of gas you also MUST fuel it! You can’t go on a cross country road trip on an empty tank! And you can’t expect to exercise regularly if you aren’t eating enough!
It can take a little tweaking to get your calorie count just right when you’re working out but it’s worth the effort!
Calculating Your Calorie Intake Goals
If you want to lose 20% of your body weight or less, the best place to start is by determining your goal weight then add a “0” to the end. For example, if your goal weight is 130 lbs you’d want to start off by eating 1300 calories a day. You may need to add or subtract a little depending on your routines and what you’re eating (all calories aren’t the same).
If you want to lose more than 20% of your body weight… that would be WAY too few calories. If you have more than 20% to lose then you’ll need to set milestone goals in increments of 20% or less. So, to do that you’d take your body weight and multiply it by 0.20 (or you could use 0.15 if you want to set a goal that’s closer, which I recommend). Then you subtract that number from your current weight to find your first milestone goal weight and follow the instructions above.
Often people get very hung up on eating protein and naturally crave refined carbs when they push themselves athletically. Don’t fall into this trap!
A good rule of thumb is to eat your body weight in grams of protein a day if you are active. If you are sedentary you need less than half of that. And of course, if you’re a body builder you’ll need more. You don’t have to be a huge stickler to this rule, but it will give you a good idea where to start.
Then, work to eat 6 or more servings of fruits and veggies a day! There are tons of low calorie and even low carb options when it comes to plants. Just be careful what you add to them! Use fresh herbs, spices and vinegars instead of heavy dressings or sauces.
Speaking of weight, did you know a scale isn’t the best way to track your health victories!
There’s a reason why the 1st “R” in R & R is rest and the second is recovery! It’s because you need rest in order to recover!
This might mean mixing up your workout routine to include a rest day (or at least a day to rest from your typical activity). Or it could mean literally getting enough rest, as in sleep!
Mixing Up Your Routine
You can work out everyday of the week if you mix it up! You can alternate days between cardio and strength or add in a day or two of stretching and yoga. Whatever you do just make sure that you’re giving your body plenty of time to recover.
If you’re a daily strength trainer you probably already know the drill… mix up those workouts. Some prefer upper and lower body days and others like chest and tris, back and bis and legs. Whichever way you go just be sure to give those tired muscles a day off to rebuild and move on to a different group.
This is another area we tend to neglect when we first start working out! If you’re waking up an hour earlier to workout you MUST go to bed an hour earlier too! 7 – 9 hours of sleep are non-negotiable! Especially when you exercise regularly! Your body (and brain) desperately need that down time!
If you’re having trouble getting into a great sleep routine, falling asleep or staying asleep, you should check out my post about sleep!
Baths aren’t just a luxury self-care item! They are extremely beneficial to your health and recovery! So much so that I have an entire article devoted only to this topic!
Wet heat is very beneficial to the healing of our muscles. It also increases circulation which speeds recovery. And, to top it all off, a nice hot bath is one of the best ways to get a sound night’s sleep.
Very few things feel more soothing to tired achy muscles than a bath! So, indulge! You’ll be glad you did! The time it takes to run and enjoy that bath is less time then it will take to hobble around your house for the next day or two!
For a bonus, add some Epsom salts to the tub! Epsom salt is magnesium! There are some studies that show that magnesium is better absorbed through the skin and it definitely helps alleviate muscle soreness!
5. Hot Water Bottles
When I was in Scotland a few years ago with a friend she introduced me to one of my all-time favorite home remedies! That’s right, a hot water bottle! You might be picturing a rubber bottle hanging from a shower rod like in old time movies. That’s not what I’m talking about. My hot water bottle is covered in soft cloth and it’s one of my favorite things.
Simply boil some water (or put the kettle on if you have one), fill your bottle as directed, and relax with it placed on any sore spot! I even use it for tension headaches by placing it on my neck and shoulders.
The warmth is so comforting and like a bath it increases circulation to aid in recovery.
I’m obsessed with my hot water bottle and take it to bed with me on cold nights. But it’s best uses are menstrual cramps and post workout aches!
Are you getting enough magnesium in your diet? Probably not! This could be your best excuse to eat some dark chocolate and avocados though! Some other great sources of magnesium are oily fish, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
To be hones though it can be difficult to get enough magnesium from food alone. So, I take a supplement. You should take it nightly (unless instructed to do otherwise by a doctor). It can make you sleepy! Magnesium supplementing can also help with migraines and depression. Keep in mind that I’m not a doctor or naturalpath and you should consult a professional before taking supplements. And just so you know, you should ALWAYS tell all your doctors about any medications, supplements or recreational drugs you use! This could be the difference between life and death, literally!
7. Topical Creams
Topical creams have come a loooong way! They are very effective, and many are even odorless now! They can be used on sore joints and muscles alike and work wonders almost immediately!
Easily accessible and very effective, Biofreeze is one of my favorites! You can find it at most stores and online. A little goes a long way and it works very well at alleviating muscle aches.
You can also try a Hemp / CBD and Arnica product like Keentox Hemp Cream.
CBD oil is very beneficial for alleviating several ailments and is easily absorbed through the skin. If you aren’t familiar with this product let me assure you (or rain on your parade), you won’t get high from using it. There is no THC present so there is no mind-altering effect.
Arnica is great at healing all sorts of minor injuries and can be used on bruises as well. It will help them heal quickly. You should be cautious with arnica oil because it can affect blood clotting and interfere with blood thinners. If you’re taking a blood thinner be sure to talk to your doctor before using arnica oil.
My favorite topical cream is my Shae, arnica, CBD cream I ordered from Rooted Remedies! I love supporting small businesses and absolutely love this super high-quality product! You can find Rooted Remedies on Instagram @rootedremedies.
Sometimes the thing we most need to do is the thing we least want to! Get up and move! It’s as if sitting longer makes everything lock up!
This isn’t the time for an intense workout but a relaxing yoga or stretching session could really help! Even a leisurely stroll may help alleviate muscle pain.
You may be a bit sore when you first start out but moving can really help and it’s likely to make that dreaded second day after better than it would otherwise be!
9. Get a Massage
This is WAY down on the list because I know that it’s just not an option for many people. BUT hear me out!
Massage is a great way to treat your hard-working body and reward yourself. Plus, it has countless health benefits aside from alleviating muscle soreness! It even bolsters your immune system, which means less colds and that means fewer sick days from work! So, massage practically pays for itself!
And you CAN get an affordable massage!
There is a common belief that massage is VERY expensive. But there are ways to get a massage at a reasonable rate or even free!
Consider getting a membership. Many establishments like Massage Envy, Massage Green and Hand, Foot and Stone offer reasonably priced monthly memberships! This allows you to get a monthly massage for $60 or less. That’s less than $2 per day, so save your coffee money!
Go to Groupon and check out all the special offers in your area! This is a great way to try out a few different facilities and therapists before selecting one!
Find a massage school in your area! Massage therapists are required to get a certain number of practice hours in before they can complete their schooling. Most massage schools have a clinic that the students work at and they charge dirt cheap rates! Plus, these fresh faced newbies are eager and have tons of cool techniques more seasoned professionals may have abandoned due to the all popular Swedish massage demand.
Massage therapists are likely the most bartered with group out there! What is your skill or talent? Massage therapists are often happy to take home repairs, yard work, babysitting or even meals as payment! Those who work for themselves often produce an overwhelming amount of laundry so you can even offer to pitch in with that! To find someone who is willing to barter try to get a referral or post on social media!
10. Wait It Out
Many people don’t know this but often we just need to give our bodies time to heal themselves! Your body can produce its own anti-inflammatories. But if you take anti-inflammatory medications, you stifle your body’s natural ability to produce them. It’s so healthy for your body to produce them that this is one of the many benefits of exercising.
If you’ve been taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen pretty regularly your body might need time to get back in the swing of things. It could take a couple weeks to a month for you to go back to producing enough anti-inflammatories naturally. Just be patient, use the remedies recommended above and wait it out!
What are your favorite natural remedies for muscle fatigue, let us know in the comments below! Share this with your fit friends and family (or those who want to be) to support their healthy lifestyle!