Muscle soreness is a common result you get after a tough workout, whether you were training with weights or doing high-intensity cardio. While it sometimes might feel good and evoke feelings of accomplishment, most of the time muscle soreness will lead to cramps, lackluster performance, and if you overdo it, regression. This means that if you don’t learn how to prevent and treat sore muscles before and after a workout, you might start to witness diminishing returns.

Luckily, muscle soreness is easily preventable, and even treatable if you stick to some healthy training and diet habits, and tend to proper post-workout recovery. Here are the five best ways to prevent and beat sore muscles.

Don’t over train or under rest

First things first, you need to tackle the issue at its source instead of treating the symptoms every time you get sore. It’s important that you identify the reason(s) behind your soreness so that you can adapt your approach and prevent it from happening in the future.

With that in mind, are you sore because you are over training, or are you sore because you’re under resting? These might seem like two identical concepts, but in reality they have quite different foundations. Over training means that you are pushing yourself past your body’s limits in and out of the gym. If you are training so hard that you’re sore all the time, then the best thing to do would be to scale back your training, and shave a couple of working sets off each workout.

Under resting, on the other hand, means that your training is perfectly fine in theory, but that your lifestyle habits aren’t allowing your body to recover properly. Make sure that you are sleeping between seven and nine hours every night, and uphold a healthy diet to ensure all necessary macro and micronutrients provide your body with the fuel it needs to prevent soreness.

Keep your nutrition on point

Speaking of nutrition, healthy eating will play a vital role in your entire fitness journey, and especially in the battle against severe muscle soreness. You want to tailor your nutritional approach to your needs and goals, making sure you are consuming enough calories to manage your weight properly, and that you are eating the right amount of proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals that will support healthy muscle contraction and blood flow. 

Have your supplements at the ready

Supplements are not essential for the success of your fitness journey, but they can make a difference for those of you who are looking to take their training to the next level without breaking down. Essentially, supplements can help you stay in the game longer and maintain your health over the years.

Among the daily multivitamins and minerals you would take in the morning, you can also use intra-workout supplementation to promote faster recovery. During your workout, you can sip on supplements with carnitine that increases cellular repair and improve performance in the gym, but do make sure to choose supplements without any added sugars to avoid unwanted weight gain.

Learn to recover properly post-workout

Even when you adopt all of these habits, there is nothing to guarantee that you won’t get sore from time to time. That’s why you need to know how to recover after a workout to banish muscle soreness as quickly as possible, and come back to your next training session stronger than before.

Understand that exercise is highly-taxing on your central nervous system and muscle tissue, so there is a need to take things slow after a tough workout. Don’t strain yourself more than you have to and tend to some light active recovery by foam-rolling, stretching, and going out for a refreshing walk. This will help you support proper blood flow throughout the day and prevent excess lactate from building up in your muscle tissue.

Take an ice bath

Last but not least, there is a reason why the top athletes in the world undergo regular ice baths. In a nutshell, the dramatic shift in temperature eliminates inflammation from the body and allows the central nervous system to recover faster. However, keep in mind that ice baths can be quite unpleasant and that you should dip yourself in a tub of ice only if you’re experiencing chronic, debilitating soreness.

If you’re otherwise feeling healthy and strong with an occasional sore streak, you can stick with alternating showers. Simply end every shower by letting cold water wash over you for a couple of minutes and you will feel right as rain.

Final thoughts

Muscle soreness, although a natural result of heavy training, is an unpleasant sensation that can sometimes prevent you from exercising and even hinder your progress in the gym. Use these five proven tactics to prevent sore muscles and cure soreness quickly, just in time for your next training session.