Dealing with Muscle Soreness in Youth Athletes

By Vanessa Mejia | Posted 5/16/2019

Let me first start off by saying that I am in no way, shape or form a medical doctor. However, having three boys involved in organized sports, I’ve nursed my fair share of aches and pains. From practice and weightlifting to the occasional injury sustained during a game, muscle soreness in youth athletes is bound to happen.

Here are eight ways that I help my boys ease their pain:

  1. Warm up. One of the easiest ways to prevent muscle soreness is by warming them up beforehand. It doesn't matter what sport they're playing, warming up loosens their joints and tendons and increases their muscle temperature and flexibility, getting them ready for work.
  2. Stay hydrated. Proper hydration is crucial for athletes, as dehydration is a leading cause of cramps! It not only helps with energy, but it also helps to lubricate your athlete’s joints.
  3. Ice. Ice helps reduce swelling and also numbs sore tissues, both of which help with pain. It’s important to note that cold therapy is most effective within the first 48 hours of injury, so be sure to have an ice pack in your gameday bag just in case!
  4. Heat. Heat helps to increase blood flow to muscles, allowing them to relax. I recommend a heating pad, disposable heat patches, or warm Epsom salt baths! Just remember, heat should not be used on acute/new injuries.
  5. Foam roller. These decrease muscle tension and increase blood flow, helping to ease the pain. One of my sons used his foam roller faithfully during football season. He would even throw it in his backpack to use pre-practice/game!
  6. Biofreeze. Biofreeze is a menthol based topical pain relief formula. Menthol stimulates cold receptors that create a cooling sensation on and under the skin, taking away from pain. It was recommended to us by our pediatrician who says she prefers it over similar products such as Icy Hot. It comes in spray, gel, cream, roll-on and patches.
  7. Ibuprofen. Sometimes they need a little more than ice and a foam roller to ease the pain. When that's the case, I give my boys over-the-counter ibuprofen because it helps with both pain and swelling. Just be sure to check the label for proper dosing and usage.
  8. Rest. They say time heals all wounds, don't they? Well, that means muscles too! Taking it easy for a couple of days works wonders.

I hope you found this post helpful as you prepare for the upcoming season. As previously mentioned, I’m just a longtime Sports Mama, not a physician – so be sure to take your athlete to a professional for any serious injuries!