If you’ve ever spent the day after an intense workout wincing every time you moved a limb, you have micro-tears in your muscles to blame. Muscle soreness and inflammation tend to set in around 24 to 48 hours after a workout and can last up to five days, especially if that workout was more grueling than usual or you tried something new. There are ways to bounce back quickly and speed post-workout recovery so you can get back on that treadmill again (or at least drag yourself out of bed) without pain. From fitting in rest days to taking functional mushrooms, here are some tips to reduce inflammation — or maybe prevent it altogether.
- Schedule Rest Days
Time to rest is a crucial component of any training program. Research shows that taking time off from your workout routine not only minimizes risks and speeds recovery, but also maximizes the benefits of physical activity. According to a 2017 study, taking rest days can protect you against bone loss and excess inflammation, which contributes to soreness as well as weakened immunity. Some experts advise resting up to 72 hours between workouts while others say trading high-intensity exercise for low-intensity exercise like walking, yoga or even gardening also counts as rest.
- Consume Anti-Inflammatory Foods
After an intense workout, load up on anti-inflammatory foods to prevent soreness from setting in. Sports dietitian and triathlete Marni Sumbal told Men’s Health, “Nailing your post-workout nutrition promotes quicker recovery, reduces muscle soreness, builds muscle, improves immune system functioning and replenishes glycogen — all key building blocks in priming you for future workouts.” Anti-inflammatory foods include whole eggs, salmon, cottage cheese, sweet potato and herbal teas.
- Apply CBD
CBD, which is the part of the cannabis plant that does not have psychotropic properties, is widely used by athletes to speed up post-workout recovery time and reduce soreness and stiffness in muscles and joints. Some athletes even use CBD before a workout to avoid losing stamina while exercising.
- Try Functional Mushrooms
Functional mushrooms are also gaining popularity with fitness enthusiasts and can be taken before, during and after a workout to ward off soreness and inflammation. Cordyceps mushrooms are hailed for their ability to support vitality, endurance and stamina as a result of the naturally occurring compounds that improve availability of oxygen in the blood. Studies show that the spindly mushrooms also have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, which can help reduce pain associated with intense exercise. Cordyceps may also prevent fatigue altogether. Research shows that the mushroom’s ability to enhance blood flow to the liver and non-exercising skeletal muscle may also aid lactate clearance, allowing athletes to maintain a higher intensity of exercise without fatigue.
To include the power of functional mushrooms to your fitness routine, try Om Cordyceps powder, which can be added to your favorite drinks or recipes daily. For even more of a boost, consider Om Fit, which includes Cordyceps and Reishi mushrooms, to improve endurance, vitality, respiration and aerobic stamina. Om Restore is another solid choice, powered by Cordyceps, Reishi, Antroida camphorata and King Trumpet mushrooms, to boost immunity and support positive inflammation response, detoxification and energy replenishment.
Finally, to keep powering through workouts, look to Om Energy+ drinks in citrus orange and lemon-lime. This powerful blend of Cordyceps, Reishi, Lion’s Mane mushrooms with B vitamins and natural botanicals offers clean and sustained energy to help you bounce back faster and work out harder than ever before.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.