Sore Muscle Treatments That Really Work

Okay, a show of hands…

Who else has ever experienced any sort of muscle soreness or pain?

I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that each and every one of you has been sore at one point in your life—and maybe even on a daily/weekly basis (I know I am).

And if you’re like most people, here’s how the pattern typically goes:

You work out hard, and you know that all the pull ups, push ups, squats, and burpees are insanely good for you and that not only will they keep you fit now, they’ll keep you strong, independent and happy later on in life.

But sometimes, you wake up the next day and realize you can barely move. Your neck hurts. Your legs burn. You wonder how you’ll make it through the day… let alone get through the next workout.

Sound familiar?

Well, unfortunately, there’s no magic button you can push to magically erase all your aches and pains. But there are several different ways to reduce and relieve muscle pain.

Here are some of my favorites:

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Why You Should Get Outside Every Day

It’s no secret that people are spending more and more time these days indoors.

Just think about your daily routine. How much of it do you spend at your desk… in your car… on the couch?

Probably a lot, if you’re like most people.

But is all this time spent inside actually good for us?

Here’s what getting outdoors can do for you:

It improves your mood.

If you’ve ever been in a terrible mood and decided to go for a walk instead of wallow in your sadness or anger, you probably remember how your misery let up a little after even just five to ten minutes outdoors.

This happens to me with such consistency that I almost always can tell if I’m getting a little crabby, I’ve been inside too long.

It may sound like pure coincidence, but it really helps.

According to a Harvard study (and many others like it), one of the reasons getting outside can have such a positive effect on your state of mind is that light tends to elevate people’s mood, and there’s usually more light available outside than in—even on the darkest of winter days.

What’s more, physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside gets you exercising (even if it’s just a walk), then your mood will lift as a result.

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It's Not Easy… But You Can't Give Up

There’s something you need to understand, especially if you’re new to the 12 Minute Athlete, new to interval training, or even new to working out at all.

And that something is this: these workouts aren’t easy.

In fact, they’re really, really hard.

And they’re supposed to be hard.

As someone who may have never done a handstand before, never done a strict pull up, maybe even never done a full push up, you may look at the 12 Minute Athlete workouts and think: I can’t do that.

Let me tell you a secret: I would have said the same thing even just a few years ago.

Back then, my workouts consisted of a three mile run; nothing else. I hated them. Plus, I couldn’t do a pull up (or a push up) to save my life.

And now… well, now, I feel pretty good about my fitness level. Sure, I always want to get stronger, faster, and fitter.

But really, who doesn’t?

You can do these workouts

It doesn’t matter what your current fitness level is. You can do the 12 Minute Athlete workouts.

Yes, they’re tough. But the great thing about them is that they’ll always be tough. That means you’ll never hit a plateau or get bored and stop making progress like traditional workouts.

Because the key to these workouts is that you work as hard as you possibly can.

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Why You Hate Exercise—And How You Can Change That

For many people (and you might count yourself as one of them), exercise is a chore.

But here’s the truth: it doesn’t have to be.

I used to feel the same way. I’d go to the gym, waste an hour or so on the treadmill or elliptical machine… use a resistance machine or two… maybe do a few crunches.

Not only did it make me gloomy, my body never transformed the way I wanted it to.

But once I found something I loved, it completely transformed my idea of exercise.

Because here’s the thing…

Exercise doesn’t have to be torture

In fact, for many people (and I now include myself as one of them, after years of dreading it), exercise is a release. It makes people happy. It changes their lives and bodies for the better.

The key is to find something you enjoy.

Everybody can like some form of exercise. Our bodies were made to move. We were not designed to be couch potatoes.

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How to Take an Active Rest Day

how to take an active rest day

Does this sound like you?

You work out as hard as you can five or six days a week, making sure to include all the good stuff—intervals, squats, pull ups, push ups, and other good-for-you whole body exercises.

You make sure and walk or bike when you can, and if you don’t live in a city, you make a special effort to walk your dog or go for a stroll in the outdoors at least a couple of times a week.

Basically, you’re pretty active.

But what do you do on your off days?

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My First Push Up (And Finding the Will to Do Anything You Put Your Mind to)

1…2…3.

I still remember that day. The day I did my first real push up. Actually, the day I did my first three real push ups, to be exact.

I was visiting my parents, so I must have still been in college. And though I’ve always acted strong and tough… In reality, I had a pretty weak upper body my entire youth.

How weak?

I didn’t get an excellent on my Presidential Physical Fitness Test in grade school because I couldn’t do a single pull up (my good friend and athletic arch rival Renee did two).

I definitely couldn’t do a push up.

And until about three years ago, my brother called me “spaghetti arms.”

Now, to be fair, I have a build somewhat like my Dad’s—we’re both tall and lanky, with long, stringy arms.

We’ve both always had a hard time getting long sleeved shirts that would cover our entire arms. In fact, my arms are so long my high school basketball coach asked me if they ever drug on the floor (I was not amused at the time).

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You Only Have One Body—So Take Care of It Today

“My toilet seat is so low. I’m thinking about getting an extension. You know, so my knee won’t ache when I’m getting up.”

This is what I hear from the room next to me, as I’m laying face down on a squishy chair in my chiropractor’s office. The voice is husky, man-like, though obviously coming from a woman.

I hear my chiropractor ask the woman if she got new shoes as an electric current goes through my neck and causes a muscle spasm I can’t control.

“Yep,” she says, in an obviously disgruntled voice. “Velcro ones. I can’t bend over, you know, ’cause I’m so heavy. Once I lose a few pounds, I can get ones with laces.”

She then goes on and on to talk about her various health issues. About how she has a new folding cane, one that can fit in her purse so that if she has to go anywhere, she won’t slip and fall. She talks about the toilet seat again, and I hear my chiropractor, a petite woman in her forties, act interested.

God, I think, as another spasm takes hold of my body. Don’t let that be me.

_______________________

Like it or not, we were given one body to last us a lifetime. We can take care of this body, nurture it, keep it strong and healthy, or we can let it fall apart, so as the years go by we can do less and less with it.

It may be about looks now, but this body of your will be with you when you have children (if you don’t already). And it’ll still be there with you when you turn into a grandparent.

In fact, long past the time when you give a damn about what the opposite sex thinks of you, your body will still be yours.

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How to Tell if You're Overtraining

“Crack.”

That was the sound of my neck one evening.

Now I’ll be the first one to tell you that cracking bones is no abnormal occurance for me. I’m a regular snap-crackle-and-pop machine (it creeps the hell out of my sister).

But this crack… this one wasn’t normal.

The pain started soon after. I lost the ability to turn my head to the right, and shooting knife-like sensations started firing into the back of my neck any time I tried to move it like a normal human neck is supposed to move.

I tried to sleep, hoping the night’s rest would make the pain go away, but I had no such luck. I called up my chiropractor the next morning and she agreed to meet me within a few hours.

Turns out, the knife-like pain in my neck was nothing serious. The chiropractor gave me a very painful massage and a few adjustments, then sent me on my way, telling me to rest, rest, rest!

But the whole episode got me thinking. This weird can’t-move-my-neck experience has actually happened to me once before. I’ve also knocked a rib out of place a couple of times—an incredibly painful experience.

What did all these painful experiences have in common? I’d been training a lot, doing something heart poundingly hard nearly every single day… but each time, had forgotten to take any time to recover.

In short, I was overtraining.

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Seven Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

How do you motivate yourself to exercise when there are dozens of things you’d rather be doing?

You know it’s good for you. Exercise helps you reach and maintain a healthy body weight, lowers blood pressure, gets rid of bad cholesterol, strengthens bones, lowers your risk for cancer, and decreases stress.

But we all know the truth: finding the time and motivation to get off the couch and work out isn’t always easy.

Here are seven ways to get—and keep—the motivation to exercise regularly:

1. Find something you enjoy doing.

Many gym-goers spend hours on the treadmill even though they hate it (this used to be me).

Yet there are plenty of other forms of exercise that can be just as (or more!) beneficial for weight loss and cardiovascular health.

Try a new class, substitute long cardio sessions with interval training, join a friendly sports team with your buddies—anything that will help you look forward to exercising, rather than dread it.

2. Keep track of your progress.

Using a journal to track measurements like weight and body fat percentage as well as progress made in your workouts will keep you much more motivated than looking in the mirror every day.

Just being able to see in print (or on the screen) that all your hard work has paid off can be the motivator you need to keep you working out on a regular basis.

3. Notice how you feel after exercise.

If you’re like most people, you may be tired and unmotivated before your workout, but feel nothing short of amazing afterwards.

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Is Your Food Obsession Ruining Your Life?

Some people spend every minute of their lives obsessing over food.

Devout Paleo diet followers, for instance, nearly cry if a speck of grain touches their lips. They have a hard time eating out with friends, and can’t enjoy a rich dessert at a party. And this is the same for any extreme dieter, not just Paleo lovers.

If that’s the kind of life you want to live, go for it.

I, on the other hand, am a big believer in enjoying life.

I want to experience everything life has to offer, and yes, that means a glass or two of wine several times a week, some bread here and there, even (gasp!) a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookie once in a while.

No, I don’t eat these things every day, but I do eat them more often than you might think.

Why? I want to be happy. I want to experience life with the people around me. I don’t want to obsess about every morsel of food I eat—I want to enjoy my food.

I live by the 80/20 rule — 80% of what goes into my body has to be good food (fruits, veggies, protein, healthy fats, etc.)—and 20% can be the fun stuff (wine, treats, carbs).

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