Have you ever dealt with muscle soreness after you exercise? We've got some great stretches for sore muscles that will help you recover in no time!
Muscle soreness a day or two later, also referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is common after strength training and even cardio workouts.
Intense workouts and muscle soreness tend to go hand in hand. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do about it.
Plus, if you want to get the full benefit of your workouts, you have to incorporate proper recovery methods.
Not only will your body feel better, but it will get you to your next workout fresher and ready to give your full effort.
DOMS can decrease your performance and even just your day-to-day activities after tough workouts. But with the stretches for sore muscles below, you can learn how to get rid of muscle soreness after workouts, reduce injuries, and build strength!
These 6 stretching and mobility exercises can significantly improve your flexibility, posture, and energy levels, enabling you to feel your best every day!
Stretches For Sore Muscles
It's not just about what you do after a workout — what you do before can have just as big of an impact on muscle soreness.
Warming up before a workout with dynamic stretching can help decrease DOMS and help increase power output during a workout, so not only will dynamic stretches help with muscle recovery, but they will also lead to a more beneficial workout overall.
Dynamic stretches are exercises where you move your muscles while stretching instead of holding them for prolonged periods of time in a set, or static, position.
Here are some examples of both upper and lower-body dynamic stretches for sore muscles to include before and after your next workout:
- Start on your hands and feet with your hips in the air in an inverted V position.
- Then walk your feet as far forward as possible while keeping your legs straight.
- Then, walk your hands out, extending your body into a plank position.
- Then raise your hips up again into an inverted V and repeat 5 times.
- Hold on to a wall or chair.
- Swing one leg back and forth as if you’re kicking a soccer ball.
- Do about 10 swings with each leg.
Back and Chest Rotations
- Start down on all fours with your knees below your hips and wrists below your shoulders.
- Place your left fingertips behind your left ear.
- Rotate your upper body to the left so that your left elbow points up to the ceiling.
- Then twist your torso back to the starting position.
- Continue for 8 reps on the left, then switch sides and repeat on the right.
While a warm-up with dynamic stretching can help decrease DOMS, the cooldown does not seem to have as much of an effect on muscle soreness. However, foam rolling can substantially improve muscle soreness after exercise.
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release (SMR). Myofascial release is an osteopathic manipulative technique where a physician or someone trained in this modality applies sustained pressure on restricted areas of connective tissue, also known as fascia, that surrounds your muscles and bones. They apply pressure to release the restriction in connective tissue so that you have a greater range of motion and less pain.
However, you probably don’t have access to a personal trainer right after a sweat session! Luckily, with a foam roller, you can get a similar benefit by doing this yourself.
With a foam roller, you can target the upper and lower body to improve your range of motion and decrease post-exercise soreness. You simply use your body weight on a foam roller to exert pressure on the targeted muscles and connective tissue. You can adjust your body position to isolate specific areas of the body and treat restrictions in the soft tissue.
Here are some great foam rolling exercises that are great stretches for sore muscles:
- Lie with a foam roller under your spine.
- The foam roller should be oriented vertically so that it is supporting your head and tailbone.
- Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
- Spread your arms wide and out to the sides with your palms facing upward.
- Breathe deeply and relax in this position for up to 1 minute.
Upper to Mid Back
- Place the foam roller horizontally across your upper to mid-back, right below your shoulder blades.
- Bend your knees and press your feet into the floor.
- Rest your head in your hands and lean back.
- Raise your hips slightly to move the roller up toward your shoulders.
- Focus on areas of tension for 10-20 seconds.
- Work your way up to your shoulders.
- Then work your way down to your mid-back again, targeting areas of tension.
- Lie on your back and position the foam roller so it is horizontal below your low back.
- Bend your knees and press your feet into the ground.
- Bring your knees to your chest and place your hands behind your thighs or just below your knees.
- Slowly shift your weight to the right side, raising the left side of your low back off the foam roller.
- Hold this position for a few seconds, then gently shift to the left side.
- Continue rocking your weight from side to side until you feel your muscles and soft tissue release.
- Sit with your right leg on the foam roller and your left knee bent with your hands on the floor behind you.
- Roll up and down from your knee to just under your right butt cheek.
- Roll back and forth 8-10 times, then repeat with the left leg.
- Lie facedown on the floor and place the foam roller under your hips.
- Roll up and down from hip to knees 8-10 times.
- Position your body on the right side, with a foam roller under the right side of your chest.
- Extend your right arm out on the floor with your right leg straight on the ground and your left leg propped in front of your body with your knee bent.
- Rotate back slightly so your right lower shoulder muscle is in contact with the foam roller.
- Slowly roll the foam roller a few inches closer to the legs, then a few inches closer to the head 8-10 times.
- Switch sides and repeat.
When doing any of these foam rolling exercises, you can tailor it to match your areas of soreness or tightness. When rolling over certain muscles, you will notice areas of tension. Slow down over these regions to really focus on the muscle groups. Focus on your breathing as you relax and target areas of pain until these muscles release.
Here's how to properly use a foam roller, along with a few other tools to help with your stretches for sore muscles!
*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on stretches for sore muscles.