There’s a reason I’ve been going to the same trainer for more than a decade (shout out to Peter!): He kicks my a$$ — in a good way. Like most people, I never push myself as hard when I strength train on my own, and his workouts leave me with the kind of day-after soreness that makes me feel strong, accomplished, and Wonder Womanish. But it’s still soreness. And who wants to hobble around for days until the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) subsides or resort to popping Advil like Skittles? Not me. And I bet not you either. (Plus, there’s some new evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, may do more harm than good for post-workout pain anyway.) So here are eight creative ways to fast-track your recovery—none of which involve Epsom salts or ice baths. You know, so you can get right back in the gym and do it all over again.
1. Drink a turmeric latte.
2. Eat something garlicky.
Yep, garlic. Studies show it’s pretty powerful at reducing muscle fatigue—especially when you crush the cloves. Smashing the garlic’s cell walls creates a compound called allicin, which also dials down inflammation. Add it to a post-workout meal with protein and carbs (like a stir-fry) to help muscles bounce back quicker.
3. Get a good night’s sleep.
4. Roll, don’t stretch.
It’s no secret we’re fans of foam rolling. We’ve talked about the benefits a lot, and it’s far better at reducing soreness than limbering exercises because it allows you to really isolate the muscle and zero in on a specific area. Stretching just can’t do that. But here’s the thing: The way most of us do it is wrong, according to Morey J. Kolber, doctor of physical therapy and an expert who studies the most effective foam-rolling techniques. We tend to roll from one end of the muscle to the other, when we should actually be breaking it up. For larger muscle groups, such as your quads and hamstrings, try divvying it into three smaller sections and rolling each for one minute. Smaller muscles such as your triceps or calves can be done in two sections.
And slow your roll too. Going fast to get it over with won’t give you the same benefit. Roller just not cutting it? For more personalized relief, try the new Soothe app, which is like Uber for massage. You can have a top-rated therapist show up right at your door in as quickly as an hour starting at just $99.
5. Sip on tart cherry juice.
6. Grab a cup of coffee.
7. Walk your dog.
8. Dust cinnamon on your morning oatmeal.
Think of it as nature’s ibuprofen. Cinnamon has been shown to have analgesic effects on stiff, achy muscles. And it doesn’t take much either: A study in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that consuming about a teaspoon of the stuff was enough to get the benefits—the perfect amount to sprinkle on your oatmeal or in your coffee.