What helps against sore muscles: The best tips and home remedies on how to relieve it

Was hilft gegen Muskelkater: Die besten Tipps und Hausmittel, wie du ihn lindern kannst

Everyone knows him and most of them already had him. After a longer break from sports or an increase in training intensity, it hits most people without notice. The muscle strain! A pain that occurs after intense exertion and can even limit you in your daily life for several days.(1)

That's why we've put together all the information about what helps against sore muscles for you in this article. We will explain to you what sore muscles actually are and how they arise. We also share our tips & tricks with you on which home remedies really help against sore muscles.

the essentials in brief

  • Sore muscles can be caused in everyday life or during sports. This is due to an unusual strain or overexertion of your muscles.
  • The pain occurs with a time delay and can last for several days. The first two days are the worst. Overall, the muscle needs about a week to fully regenerate.
  • Muscle pain can be relieved by heat. You can also loosen muscles and support muscle regeneration with your diet and light sporting activities.

Background: What you should know about the development and relief of sore muscles

Before we get to the tips that will help you best against your sore muscles, we want to give you some additional information on this topic. We have answered the most frequently asked questions for you below.

What actually is muscle soreness?

Simply put, muscle soreness tells you that your muscle is injured as a result of overstimulation. The muscle tissue at the affected area is swollen, stiff, and hard. Sometimes the spot is also sensitive to touch and you can often only move to a limited extent.(1)

Sore muscles, a pain that occurs with a delay after unusual exertion. The delay can range from a few hours to a few days.

It is possible that you have put too much strain on your body through the exertion of sports or unfamiliar movements, such as gardening. This can lead to overstimulation of the muscles. However, muscle soreness can also be caused by epileptic seizures or muscle relaxant medications.(2)

The common thing about sore muscles, however, is that you don't notice during your sports session that you are training too intensively. Ultimately, the high intensity has consequences. Small tears appear in the muscle fibers, the muscle is damaged.(3)

Our body is programmed in such a way that it wants to heal these injuries as quickly as possible. Water penetrates the muscle through the small cracks, which causes edema there. Consequently the muscle swells and gets stretched. The resulting muscle or stretch pain is known as muscle soreness.(2)

Why is muscle pain delayed?

It is difficult to predict exactly when the sore muscles will set in. There are several factors that are responsible for when the pain is felt. However, these are different for everyone. These are the following factors:

  • Old
  • Training level and intensity of training
  • Trained or untrained muscle group
  • Type of exercises and breaks observed

Depending on the factor, the muscle pain is correspondingly delayed. To give you a better idea, we will give you a brief summary in the following sections. In these we explain to you what exactly happens in the injured muscle until the pain occurs.

Muscle pain is transmitted to the brain through nerve endings in the muscle. However, the injured muscle is only stretched very slowly. This is because the water that enters takes time to accumulate, causing the muscle to swell.(4,6)

Only at a certain point does the edema finally press on the nerve endings and the pain is signaled to the brain. This usually happens 24 to 48 hours after physical activity, depending on factors.(5)

How long does sore muscles last?

Sore muscles can last for different lengths of time and are different for everyone. The pain in the muscles usually lasts for a few days. In extreme cases even up to a week. The worst days are usually the first two. After that, you should slowly be able to move normally again.(4)

However, a trained person recovers from muscle pain faster than an untrained person.

However, the affected muscle tissue is only completely regenerated after about a week.(5) If the pain has not improved after 7-10 days, we recommend that you consult a doctor.

When should I see a doctor for sore muscles?

doctor accessories

Don't hesitate if your muscle pain lasts longer than a week. Consult a doctor and clarify that it really is just normal muscle soreness. (Image source: Hush Naidoo / unsplash.com)

The good news is that sore muscles don't cause permanent damage by themselves.(2) However, your pain could also be from another injury, such as a strain. This should be checked with a doctor to be on the safe side.

Didn't your sore muscles go away after at least 10 days or did it come without any physical exertion? Then you should definitely check this out with a doctor. It should then be ensured that it really is just normal muscle pain.

When can I take painkillers for sore muscles?

There are no drugs that help against sore muscles. Muscle soreness is inflammation in the muscle that needs to regenerate itself. According to experts, taking painkillers could even be counterproductive.(7)

According to a study, the tablets can even increase the problem. The group that took painkillers for muscle soreness suffered from it longer. Researchers found that muscle soreness is important to allow the body to optimally prepare for the healing process after exertion.(7)

However, is your sore muscles so bad that you are severely impaired and can hardly get from A to B? Then anti-inflammatory tablets can relieve the pain somewhat. However, keep in mind that it only temporarily relieves pain, it does not actually combat the soreness.

When can I train again with sore muscles?

This question arises immediately, especially for ambitious athletes, when the sore muscles occur. The answer is not clear. Sport is possible as long as you only stimulate your metabolism in the form of light endurance training. The light sports activities even help to relieve muscle soreness.(8)

Take it easy while your muscles are sore. Then increase the execution of your exercises from time to time.

Since muscle soreness is an injury to the muscles, resistance exercises are discouraged. These only irritate the muscles further and, in the worst case, a muscle fiber tear could occur.(9) Instead, it is recommended to let the affected muscles rest and avoid heavy strain.(1)

Sore muscles: The best tips & tricks that really help

There is no specific form of therapy that helps against sore muscles. Ideally, the muscle pain will go away on its own. However, this requires a lot of patience from you.

However, there are some tips and tricks that can reduce the pain a little and make it more bearable. They also help you become more mobile faster. In the following section we will give you some options.

relieve muscle soreness

These options will help you to relieve your muscle pain and support the regeneration of your muscles. You can best use this directly after exercise or a short time later.


A visit to the sauna not only stimulates the metabolism, but also promotes blood circulation in the body, including in the muscles. The improved blood flow allows the affected muscle to recover faster when it is sore.(10)

You should always take a cold shower after the sauna session. Your body temperature is then slightly higher. It is therefore important that you restore your original body temperature.


One of the most important tips to keep in mind is to pause your workout while your muscles are sore. While the muscle is recovering, any extreme exertion can increase muscle soreness and lengthen the recovery period.(1)

Do lighter workouts to relieve muscle soreness. This supports the recovery of your muscles better and lets you regain your strength faster.

Of course, the question arises as to whether a complete break from training or light exercises make more sense. According to a study, it was found that the muscles regenerate better with light training sessions.(11) In addition, there is a drop in performance of your muscles and you lose strength. However, this condition is short-lived.(12)

Nevertheless, we recommend that you put your main focus on other muscle groups. Train these more intensively and use the auxiliary muscles of the affected muscle as much as possible.

Below we have listed some sports that are often recommended to relieve sore muscles. We show you which training sessions really help against sore muscles.

training opportunity Description
strain Many athletes swear by a light stretch, which is said to help against sore muscles. However, this has not yet been scientifically proven. Studies have shown only minimal or no effect.(13,14"> Stretching loosens the tissue, relieves tension and promotes blood circulation and thus muscle regeneration. However, stretching cannot protect you from muscle injuries.(15) Therefore, pay particular attention to your form if you still want to stretch.
Foam rolling The intense rolling motions help relieve pain from sore muscles. They loosen stuck fascia and the muscle is activated.(16)
warm up The warm-up has a supportive effect against sore muscles. It increases muscle temperature and therefore muscle function.(17)
Casual workout A light sporting activity is enough to boost your metabolism. This also promotes regeneration and muscle injuries can heal well. Regenerative endurance training, swimming, running, walking or cycling are all good for this.

These sports will loosen your muscles. This leads to your pain being relieved. Also, start exercising again slowly and gradually increase your pace. In particular, beginners or those taking a long or short break should pay attention to this.

You can also find some videos on YouTube with other ways to help against sore muscles. You can also view the execution of the exercises there.

Avoid massages

It makes the most sense to avoid massages if you have sore muscles. After all, it is injured tissue. There are older studies that prove this. Although the muscle was massaged immediately after exercise, the muscle pain could not be relieved.(19)

However, a new study found that massage has a small effect on relieving muscle soreness. The muscle swelling also went down a bit during the experiment. However, massage showed no effect on muscle function.(18)

It is your decision whether you finally have a massage against sore muscles. However, we advise against it at the moment, as the massage would cause more damage to the muscle. The new study showed only a minimal effect on the pain.

Sports Albums

Ointments are very popular when it comes to relieving pain or tension. These not only promote blood circulation, but also support your muscles during regeneration.

By massaging the ointment on the injured muscle, hardening can already be loosened, which promotes the removal of the accumulated fluid. This allows the muscle to swell more quickly.

Below we have listed some suggestions for ointments that are particularly suitable for sore muscles.

ointment Description
heat ointments The heat generated by rubbing increases blood circulation. The pain subsides and the muscle relaxes.(21)
Ointment with arnica The medicinal plant is very suitable for small injuries because it has an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect.(20)
horse ointment The horse ointment has a pain-relieving and activating effect against joint and muscle pain. It can be used not only to relieve but also to prevent muscle soreness.(22)

However, there are no clear studies that prove that ointments actually help against sore muscles.


woman sleeping

While you sleep, your body can recover. Therefore, pay particular attention to a good quality of sleep. (Image source: Damir Spanic / unsplash.com)

Many studies have shown that sufficient and good sleep has a positive effect on your health. While we sleep, the body can regenerate particularly well. That is why good sleep is also an effective helper against sore muscles.(23)

Important substances for the body are produced during the deep sleep phases, such as proteins and growth hormones. These contribute significantly to muscle recovery. If you have sore muscles, give your body enough rest and enough sleep.

Home remedies for sore muscles

There are also some home remedies that help against sore muscles. You can cleverly integrate these into your everyday life to relieve your pain.

heat or cold?

In addition to sauna sessions, all other types of heat treatments are also very helpful for sore muscles.

The heat stimulates blood circulation and metabolism, allowing the muscles to relax. This in turn promotes the regeneration of the affected muscles.

Cold, on the other hand, is a good way to prevent sore muscles. If you notice immediately after sport or physical exertion that sore muscles are inevitable, don't wait and reach for the cold. Cold baths are very helpful in reducing muscle pain and inhibiting inflammation.(24)

Whether heat or cold, everyone has to find out for themselves. In the case of acute muscle soreness, however, it is advisable to take a warm bath so that the muscles can relax.(21)

Drink enough

In order to heal the muscle when it is sore, you should drink enough water. It is best to drink at least 2.5 - 3 liters of water every day. The water supplies the body with many minerals that the muscles need for regeneration.

It is also advisable to drink a lot of tea. Green tea, for example, has an anti-inflammatory effect. Homemade ginger tea is also beneficial in relieving muscle pain.(25)


A balanced diet cannot prevent muscle soreness. However, if muscle pain occurs, various nutrients can support the regeneration of the muscles.

A high-protein diet is therefore recommended. Protein is an important building material in our body, which plays a key role in building and maintaining muscle.(26) Protein also supports muscle regeneration after exercise.

You can get protein from both animal and plant sources. Quark, cheese, legumes and low-fat meat and fish are good sources of protein. Cereals such as quinoa and amaranth also contain the important proteins.

Magnesium and calcium are also very often considered by athletes to combat muscle soreness. Both minerals are needed for muscle activity. They ensure that the muscle can alternately contract and relax. Whether the two minerals actually help against sore muscles has not been scientifically proven for a long time.

Likewise, ginger is a good helper to relieve the sore muscles. It not only strengthens the immune system, but also has anti-inflammatory properties. This speeds up muscle recovery.(25)

cherry juice


Cherry juice acts as a pain reliever due to its anthocyanins. Your sore muscles can be relieved so quickly. (Image source: Bryam Blanco / unsplash.com)

Cherry juice is a great helper to relieve sore muscles. Cherry juice contains so-called antioxidants, more precisely anthocyanins. These are responsible for the fact that cherries are red in color and have a similar effect to painkillers. In addition, the cherry carries a few other anti-inflammatory substances. (27)

If you are already suffering from sore muscles or if you have just overexerted yourself physically, try a portion of cherry juice. It is important that it is 100% cherry juice.

rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is particularly popular because of its circulation-enhancing effect. This is due to the camphor ingredient. At first, the alcohol feels cold on the skin. However, by massaging the skin, the affected muscle can relax and the pain will decrease.(28)

Rubbing alcohol is often used for sore muscles in the back. Because alcohol use can dry out the skin, rubbing rubbing with rubbing alcohol is recommended only twice a day.(28)


Muscle soreness is an injury to muscles caused by unaccustomed exertion. The muscle swells and is stretched. This triggers the well-known pain that occurs with a delay and torments you for several days. However, sore muscles do not cause long-term damage.

To alleviate the pain a little, there are a few tips and tricks that help against sore muscles. You have to try for yourself which one suits you best. However, there is no perfect solution to sore muscles. In addition, you will not be able to avoid more sore muscles if you want to effectively increase your training.


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