Everyone can relate to the strange and unpleasant sensation of muscle soreness. Who hasn’t immediately tested out this feeling by stretching their arms or legs just to see how far you can go before it starts to really hurt? For some people, this is actually a good thing – it tells them that whatever they’re doing to improve the state of their muscles is working. For others, it’s the exact opposite – too unpleasant to be worth dealing with the next time you go to work out. However, pain does not necessarily mean that you’re doing something right, and if you’re finding yourself demotivated because of it, then you should know that it is avoidable. Knowing how to reduce muscle pain after a gym workout can have a tremendous and positive impact on your physical and mental wellbeing.
“DOMS,” Muscle Pains, and Your Gym Workout
When you experience muscle pain after a workout, you’re likely feeling one of two things: acute muscle soreness, which begins immediately following a workout, or delayed onset muscle soreness (“DOMS”), which you may not feel until the next day.1 These pains occur when your muscles are pushed and stressed beyond what they are used to experiencing,2 which means that, in time, your body can adjust to high-intensity workouts and experience less pain. Overexertion is a similar, common cause of post-workout pain that can strain your muscles to the point of needing to rebuild and regrow, which is why soreness and aches tend to last a couple of days.3 When you go to try a new workout or regimen, you should ideally increase the difficulty slowly to avoid a sudden surge of pain after your first few sessions.
With all of that in mind, there are several things you can do to help your muscles out. Some good ways to reduce muscle pain after a workout include:
- Stretch – Stretch before your workout. Stretch after your workout. Just stretch! Stretching is a great way to prepare your muscles for use, and then to help them “come down” from an intense session.
- Massage – Whether you see a professional masseuse or simply take some time to massage your own muscles, the stimulation will help you to avoid or overcome muscle pain after a good gym workout. You can find a great guide for self massage on Back Intelligence.4
- Light Exercise – Gently stimulating your muscles can go a long way towards helping them to heal; a short walk, casual bike ride, or skating post-exercise can help diminish DOMS.
How to Reduce Muscle Pain in Arms After a Workout – Compression Sleeves
Another answer for how to reduce muscle pain in the arms after a gym workout is one that you might already be familiar with: compression sleeves. You’ll often see professional athletes sporting these garments during and after their performances, especially for sports like basketball and in specialties like bodybuilding. There are several reasons for this: compression garments are theorized to aid in performance and recovery both, and psychologically benefit the wearer by boosting their self-confidence. Not all of the purported benefits of compression are supported by science,5 but there are a lot of studies that support the idea that a compression sleeve can promote a more rapid recovery from DOMS.6 In 2017, for example, a group of researchers investigated the relationship between compression garments and muscle soreness in a randomized, controlled trial. They found that wearing these garments throughout the twenty-four-hour period following eccentric exercise (this refers to activities that involve tensing and lengthening a muscle at the same time, as in bicep curls) “reduced DOMS and accelerated the recovery of muscle function.”7
These benefits make eSmartr’s smart compression sleeves excellent companions for any kind of workout. If you need to know how to reduce muscle pain after a workout, these sleeves are medical-grade compression garments that enhance your workout at the same time. The Cognitive Boost Technology™ embedded inside each smart compression sleeve enhances your cognition and boosts your focus, making it easier to get in the zone and stay there. In short, it makes both your workout and recovery a more efficient experience, preventing your muscle soreness even as you get more out of your exercise.
Taking care of your body and going to a gym is an amazing thing to be doing. Always follow the drive to improve your body and your life! Of course, you should also make sure you aren’t running too far too fast. Overexertion can quickly lead to pain and soreness that can far outlast the good feeling you get from finished exercise. When you do need relief, take things slow and use smart compression to help you get back in the game as soon as possible – and to play to the best of your abilities when you do.
6. Hill J, Howatson G, van Someren K, et al. Compression garments and recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage: a meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2014;48:1340-1346.
7. Kim, J., Kim, J., & Lee, J. (2017). Effect of compression garments on delayed-onset muscle soreness and blood inflammatory markers after eccentric exercise: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of exercise rehabilitation, 13(5), 541–545. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.1735088.554