How Caffeine (And 9 Other Things) Can Ease Your Sore Muscles

10 easy ways to help you feel better, quicker.

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You’re lying in bed in the morning, thinking how happy and proud you are of yourself for kicking butt in spin class the day before…until you roll over and try to get up. Your thighs are screaming, your butt is killing you, and every time you twist, your abs go into spasms. Is this the thanks you get for doing your body good?! Delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS) is caused by microscopic tears in your connective tissue that make your nerves go haywire and cause inflammation and a buildup of chemicals and fluids. Although it feels crappy, muscle soreness is neither good nor bad for you. Studies conflict over whether your body needs to be sore in order to get stronger and fitter. The truth is, you can get healthier without it. But sometimes, when you push hard, it happens. And although it’s not bad for you, it can demotivate you to catapult yourself into your afternoon 10K and make you feel like general crap all day long. Muscle soreness usually peaks 48 to 72 hours after your workout, depending on your body, and it takes just about as long to go away. There are things that you can do that can speed the process along. Here are 10 easy ones to help you feel better, quicker.

1. Water

It’s true. Water does a body good. In the case of muscle soreness, water will help to repair your muscles quickly and flush away excess fluid. Aim for at least eight glasses a day.

2. Massage

Manual pressure helps flush out waste products and increase circulation which speeds up the healing process. Foam rolling, a new popular way to “self massage,” is really good for you as well. It uses pressure and targeted massage to help prevent scarring of the connective tissue between your muscles (the fascia).

3. Curcumin

An extract of the turmeric root, curcumin has long be been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Researchers have found that curcumin supplementation causes a decrease in DOMS-related symptoms, muscle damage, and inflammation which lead to improved training and performance along with injury prevention. You can take an oral supplement daily but also get the benefits by sprinkling it on veggies, adding it to eggs, and using it in soups and stews.

4. Sleep

While you rest, muscle building chemicals increase and help your body to repair. Sleep is essential to a healthy body and you should aim for at least seven hours per night, but eight to nine hours is the optimal amount.

5. Snack

Protein helps build muscle and studies have shown that small, frequent meals can help your body build muscle better than one big one. Try to eat your first snack within 30 minutes of finishing your workout and continue for two to four hours after. Five to seven grams of protein per meal is what you should aim to get.

6. Tart Cherry Juice 

Touted as one of the hottest foods in 2015, cherry juice is high in antioxidants which help inflammation and muscle soreness. Put a splash into your smoothie or drink it straight up!

7. Creatine 

Creatine is an amino acid that fuels your muscles and gives you the energy to rebuild and refuel. The more energy you have, the better you can repair and recover. Choose oral supplements or add some to your post workout snack.

8. Mushroom Extract

The ‘shroom works by activating ATP, the energy powerhouses in your cells, to give you “clean” energy without resorting to stimulants. Add fresh dried mushroom to soups, stews and meals or opt for an oral supplement in capsule or extract form.

9. Magnesium

Essential for healthy muscles, magnesium also serves as a gentle, natural muscle relaxant. Instead of taking an oral supplement, add it to a warm bath or compress where it can be absorbed by the skin and act more effectively.

10. Caffeine

Recently, researchers found that drinking caffeine (about two cups worth) helped reduce muscle soreness in women after a hard workout. It works by blocking adenosine, a chemical released by your body in response to injury.

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