If you live by the motto "no pain, no gain," you're probably reading this while your muscles are sore and aching. Didn't you know that the sudden, high-intense sprints you did during your workout can trigger tearing in and around muscle tissue? The pain can surprise you several hours or an entire day after your workout. The good thing about sore muscles is that there are ways to speed up your recovery and minimize discomfort. Additionally, after recovery, your muscles will be stronger than ever for up to eight weeks.
Rest your sore quadriceps for at least three days so the pain gradually reduces. Avoid rapidly returning to the vigorous exercise that put you in this predicament in the first place, because it can worsen your soreness.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever if your quadriceps really hurt. The pain reliever won't speed up recovery, but will reduce your discomfort.
Ice your quadriceps three to four times per day for 15 minutes to reduce swelling and pain and to minimize tissue damage. Make small circles over your quadriceps with an ice pack, a bag of frozen vegetables or a plastic sandwich bag filled with ice cubes. To protect your skin, wrap the ice in a thin towel before massaging your upper legs with it.
Replace the cold applications with heat applications if after 72 hours the discomfort persists. Heat feels better and promotes blood flow to the aching muscles. Use heat lamps, heating pads or a hot shower as the source.
Massage your quadriceps lightly and frequently with your hands to promote blood flow to your muscles and relieve soreness and swelling.
Stretch your quadriceps to loosen and lengthen them so your range of motion improves. Perform basic stretches, such as the heel-to-tush stretch in which you stand upright, bent your knee and bring the heel of your foot toward your tush. Use your hands to gently pull your heel closer to your rush. Hold the stretch 30 seconds before switching legs.
Perform light cardiovascular exercise, such as riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill. This promotes blood flow and removes metabolic waste products, which benefits muscle recovery.
- Consult a doctor if your muscles are still sore after one week and if there's swelling, pain and redness.
- Runner’s World Essential Guides; Runner's World Editors
- Complete Guide to Sports Injuries; H. Winter Griffith and David A. Friscia
- Go Ask Alice!: Proper Ice Pack Application for Injuries
- MayoClinic.com: Slide Show: A Guide to 10 Basic Stretches: Quadriceps Stretch
- FrameWork; Nicholas A. DiNubile and William Patrick
- PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images