Did you go ham on the squats and now feel like your legs are cement blocks of pain? Here, Tayla Faulmann, muscle physiologist and fitness blogger at The Science of Slaying, breaks down the steps to take for healing after leg day.
Right After The Workout
Sure, this is a bit too late if you’re already groaning when you walk, but a good pre-emptive measure to prevent muscle pain is to take an anti-inflammatory after your workout, says Faulmann, especially if it’s your first workout in a while. Then, stretch your muscles while they’re still warm. “A classic heel-to-bum stretch is good for the quads, and make sure you keep your knees together while doing it,” she says. “But stretch everything around your hips as well, not just your quads.”
READ MORE: 3 Reasons Why You Should Never Skip Leg Day
The Day After
You may have Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness after the workout if it was particularly brutal, or if you didn’t stretch after. If it’s just mild stiffness, use heat to soothe the pain. But if it’s a sharper pain, and walking is very painful, use cold. “An ice bath the next day can work wonders. A soak in the icy Atlantic would honestly be ideal for your legs,” says Faulmann.
READ MORE: The 4 Tightest Muscles — And Exactly How To Stretch Them
“It’s important to keep moving, but not at full range of motion (so don’t be doing hamstring kicks). Gently stretching regularly and light active recovery will also help.” Every half hour, get up and walk around to loosen the legs and stretch them out. Keep icing them, too, if they’re still pretty painful.
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