When you lift heavier weight than usual or work muscles in ways they’re not accustomed to, there’s a good chance you’ll experience soreness a few days after your workout. Soreness after a workout is a sign that you’ve torn muscle fibers and they’re swollen and inflamed. Fortunately, the soreness will subside within a week, but in the meantime, it can be pretty uncomfortable.
Is there a way to prevent muscle soreness after a workout?
If you frequently deal with sore muscles after exercising, try adding more ginger to your diet. According to a study published in The Journal of Pain, ginger could help prevent sore muscles after exercising.
Researchers gave participants 2 grams of raw or heat-treated ginger for 11 days in a row. Another group of participants received a placebo. When they did a workout designed to induce muscle inflammation and injury, the group who took the ginger reported less muscle soreness than the placebo group did. Both the raw ginger and the heat-treated ginger had similar muscle-soothing benefits.
Why would ginger reduce muscle soreness after a workout?
When you challenge your muscles in new ways or lift heavier weights than usual, it causes microscopic tearing of muscle fibers. When this happens, the body sends white blood cells to the injured area to help repair the damage. This leads to an inflammatory response and swelling in the area where the muscle fibers are damaged. This activates pain receptors and causes you to feel sore a few days later.
Ginger has long been known as the herb to treat nausea and motion sickness. It’s even used by some health practitioners to relieve the inflammation of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. One study showed that ginger extract reduced the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee. Most likely it’s this anti-inflammatory property of ginger that makes it effective for preventing soreness after a workout.
Other Remedies for Soreness after a Workout
Tart cherry juice may be another natural remedy for sore, inflamed muscles. Tart cherries block the action of an enzyme called Cox-2 that contributes to inflammation. Some research shows it may be more effective than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen for reducing pain and inflammation.
Other ways to treat muscle soreness?
Ice packs and massage can help muscle soreness. You may not feel like doing a full workout, but a little light stretching can ease the discomfort too. If you sit too long, it causes the muscles to stiffen and worsens the pain. The good news is the soreness will go away in 4 to 7 days.
To prevent sore muscles in the future, add more ginger and tart cherry juice to your diet, and don’t make sudden changes in your exercise program. It will not only increase the risk of muscle soreness, but it could lead to injury. Gradually increase the intensity of your workout, and you can get the job done safely and without feeling too sore.
Journal of Medicinal Food 2005 8(2):125-32.
On Fitness magazine. September/October 2010.
Natural News. “Natural Cox-2 Inhibitors”
University of Maryland Medical Center “Ginger”