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What to Do—and Eat—So You Don’t Feel So Sore After a Workout

Do you find yourself feeling sore a day after working out? Incorporating these habits may help you feel better.

After a tough session at the gym, you probably feel great about what you just accomplished—whether it was 100 burpees or running five minutes without stopping to walk. But if you aren’t careful, the next day your body could make you pay. That’s because of something called delayed onset muscle soreness. This is when, the day after a tough workout, you ache all over; the theory is that your muscles are reacting to being microscopically damaged during exercise. 

This soreness starts 12 to 24 hours after you leave the gym and the pain can peak a day or two after that (so if it takes you a while to feel sore after exercise, you’re not alone). But don’t just write this off as something you have to put up with in your quest to stay fit. There are some helpful things you can do to reduce how bad you hurt when soreness does set in.

• Have some tart cherry juice: A study of marathon runners suggests that tart cherry juice may play a role in reducing inflammation, which can cause muscle soreness. 

• Use a foam roller: People who use a foam roller after working out have less muscle soreness the next day, according to research. Study participants foam-rolled for 20 minutes immediately, 24 hours after, and 48 hours after a workout, so make it a part of your daily routine.

• Take an Advil: One proven way to make the pain go away is to take a pain reducer like Advil. It targets the site of inflammation, which in this case are those muscles you worked so hard the day before.

• Have some caffeine before and after: Studies have found that having caffeine an hour before a workout and 24 hours after it reduces delayed onset muscle soreness. An extra benefit: One study found participants were able to lift more weight during the actual workout.