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5 quick and easy stretches to help relieve sore muscles!

We all love a good workout. The satisfaction of an extra set of reps, or a few more kilometres run, walked or cycled. Your body sweats, the endorphins flow and your muscles tell you they have been put to good use. No pain, no gain. (As long as you don’t push it too hard and pull a hamstring)

But what about the post-workout muscle soreness, and the aches that occur a few days after exercising? How can gentle stretching help relieve these associated aches and pains?

Acute and Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Sore muscles are a fact of life when it comes to exercising. It’s part and parcel of getting stronger and healthier. Muscle soreness develops because of microscopic damage to the muscle fibres used during the exercising. Acute soreness is felt straight away and is partly caused by a build up of lactic acid. Gentle stretching or massaging, done immediately after the exercise, will help reduce the lactic acid and so aid recovery.

Delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, occurs 24 to 72 hours after the exercise and can take up to a week to recover from. The good news is recovery from both types of soreness can be aided through rest, improved hydration, and gentle stretching.

Tired women after exercise

12 second stretches you can do at home

Stretching aching muscles will boost blood flow and help breakdown the build-up of lactic acid. The key is that the stretches should be very gentle, to avoid inflicting further damage to the muscle groups. Here are five gentle stretching exercises that can help aid recovery from muscle soreness. Each one should be held for a count of 12, adjusting the pressure to relieve rather than cause soreness. If any stretching causes acute pain, stop and rest!

1. Hamstring stretch

  1. Lie on your back and raise your right leg, keeping it as straight as possible
  2. Cusp the hamstring on your right leg with both hands
  3. Keeping your left leg bent with your foot on the floor, gently bring your right leg towards you keeping it as straight as possible
  4. Hold for around 12 seconds
  5. Repeat with the opposite leg

2. Calf stretch

  1. Keeping your feet parallel, step forward on your right leg, keeping it bent. Lean forwards slightly
  2. Keep your left leg straight and gently try to lower your left heel to the ground
  3. Hold for 12 seconds
  4. Repeat with the opposite leg

3. Thigh stretch

  1. Lie on your right side
  2. Grab the top of your left foot and gently pull your heel towards your left buttock, stretching the front of your thigh
  3. Keep your knees touching, hold the stretch for 12 seconds
  4. Repeat on the other side

4. Inner thigh stretch

  1. Sit down on the floor or a mat. Keeping your back straight, bend your legs out to the side
  2. Put the soles of your feet together
  3. Holding on to your feet or ankle, gently lower your knees towards the floor
  4. Hold for 12 seconds

5. Buttock stretch

  1. Lie on your back and bring your knees up to your chest
  2. Cross your right leg over your left thigh.
  3. Grasp the back of your left thigh with both hands.
  4. Gently ease your left leg towards your chest
  5. Hold for 12 seconds, then slowly relax
  6. Repeat with the opposite leg

The key to these stretches is to be gentle, move slowly and only apply enough force so you begin to feel the muscle groups responding. The aim is to aid recovery from muscle soreness and not to cause further discomfort!
We hope these twelve second stretches help with recovery from muscle soreness and allow you to continue your exercise program. Remember that a good pre-exercise warm up is important too! If you are concerned that a muscular ache or pain may be more than simple soreness, please seek professional advice, either from your GP or one of our qualified osteopaths or physiotherapists. Good luck and good exercising!

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