10 Ways to Avoid and Relieve Stiffness After Exercise

November 18, 2022

We have all suffered stiffness at some time after intense exercise, and although it is nothing to worry about, it can be quite aggravating. 

Most people have experienced that characteristic pain that stiffens the muscles and makes us unable to take two steps in a row the day after an intense training session or a longer walk.

This pain is known as stiffness and appears as a result of having subjected our body to unexpected extra work.

We will share some thoughts with you on what you can do to combat stiffness and cope with the pain better.

What is Muscle Stiffness?

Aches and pains are micro-tears in the muscle fibers due to the intense workout and are also known as muscle stiffness. 

There are several things you can do pre and post-workout to avoid tearing your muscles or causing intense pain that will prevent you from working out the next day. 

  1. Do PNF Stretching

In general, stretching will not prevent stiffness; in fact, it adds more tension to the muscles involved, which makes the situation worse.

But there are different methods for stretching, and it seems that the so-called Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) may have some positive effects in reducing stiffness, but there is still more research needed to support these results.

The PNF stretching method consists of performing an isometric contraction (without movement) of the musculature you want to stretch for a few seconds.

The muscle is then relaxed for a few seconds.

We finish trying to passively gain range of motion until we feel the tension and a slight discomfort again.

At that point, hold the position for a few more seconds.

Repeat the whole process 2-3 times.

  1. Drink Cherry or Beet Juice

It seems that cherry juice, beet juice, or coffee may reduce stiffness.

A study published in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine suggests that cherry juice reduces muscle soreness after exercise thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Some studies have concluded that both fermented milk and chocolate milk may relieve stiffness. However, more studies are needed to affirm this. 

  1. Add Turmeric and Ginseng to Your Diet

Foods with turmeric or ginseng have a positive effect on relieving stiffness due to their anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Also, foods rich in Omega-3 such as salmon, sardines, or walnuts could be effective against stiffness, thanks to their tissue binding properties. 


  1. Polyphenols with Anti-inflammatory Effect

Lentils, beans, or soya, as well as red fruits, onions, and tomatoes, are foods rich in polyphenols, which means that they have a valuable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity.

Polyphenols are micro compounds in fruits and veggies, excellent for improving muscle work and boosting muscle recovery after strenuous workouts. 

Eating polyphenol-rich foods while hitting the gym regularly is vital for muscle health and increased activity. 

  1. Food Rich in Taurine

Foods rich in taurine can also contribute to mitigating the pain of stiffness. We find this amino acid in those foods that include proteins in their composition.

Chicken meat, as well as pork or lamb, are the main sources of this nutrient. Eggs, dairy products, algae, and yeast also contain taurine, a vital nutrient for muscle recovery between workouts. 

Besides foods, taurine is also part of sports supplements for boosting muscle strength and muscle mass in high-performing athletes. 


  1. Protein Shakes

Certain protein shakes, mainly with branch chain amino acids such as valine, leucine, and isoleucine can help reduce stiffness.

It is not difficult to prepare a drink that includes these nutrients. Valine is found in apples and pomegranates; leucine in papaya and apricots; and isoleucine in pistachios and almonds.

If you're a weight lifting professional, protein food sources might not be enough to accomplish your goals, so consult your coach or nutrition specialist about adding supplementary proteins to your diet. 

  1. Sugar Water Doesn't Prevent Muscle Stiffness

The traditional antidote to stiffness, drinking a glass of water with sugar, seems to remain a myth with no scientific evidence to support it.

Several studies have shown that carbohydrate intake does not affect stiffness.


  1. Practice swimming or cycling

In addition to nutrition, exercises such as swimming can be an effective way to reduce stiffness due to the massaging and compressive effect of water on the muscles.

Cycling at low intensity can facilitate recovery from stiffness more quickly.

  1. Cold Shower

After an intense workout, a cold shower promotes muscle recovery, making it a good ally to avoid stiffness.

During the first 48 hours of stiffness, cold showers are also recommended to combat aches and pain. 


  1. Massage

A massage with a sports cream facilitates muscle recovery. Do not put too much pressure on the affected muscle because you can cause even more pain by increasing the rupture of the muscle fibers. 

Messages should be gentle to stimulate circulation. And for best results, you can complete your massage by applying a cold-affect muscle recovery gel or massage with CBD-infused muscle recovery cream. 

Final Word

Muscle stiffness is an inevitable side effect of extreme workouts, or if you haven't exercised for a while. 

The best way to take care of muscle stiffness and reduce pain is to do PNF stretching before exercising, drink anti-inflammatory juices such as cherry or beet juice, and add protein shakes to your diet. Also, consider adding foods rich in taurine and polyphenols to aid muscle recovery. Cold showers and CBD cream massage after a workout are another great way to alleviate muscle stiffness and get ready for the next training.