Whether you prefer a cardio workout or strength training, exercise can leave your muscles sore and tight in the days after, and make your next session even harder.

To help ease the discomfort, as well as help boost your sports performance, here we found up some tips and techniques from the University of Kentucky and recent studies to ease muscles and lead to a quicker and more effective recovery.

1) Stretching: Stretching is a key step in aiding recovery, reducing muscle soreness and preventing injuries. Muscles can’t react to changes in length effectively when they are tight; stretching before exercise can help muscles move more effectively. Static stretching — holding a stretch without movement — can be done before exercise, but is most important after activity. Kinetic stretching — warming up muscles with movement — is also beneficial, with the most benefit coming from its combination with static stretching.

2) Foam rolling: Although it might appear to be a technique for professional athletes, foam rolling can be used as a recovery technique by everyone and for all workouts. The technique consists of using a cylindrical tool and body weight to massage muscles, and it can be beneficial both before and after exercise for different reasons — rolling out before can help break up adhesions in the soft tissue around the muscle, and rolling out after acts as a form of self-massage which has been shown to aid in muscle recovery.

Stretching is a key step in aiding recovery, reducing muscle soreness and preventing injuries. (Shutterstock )

3) Diet: It may not be as obvious as the physical techniques to reduce soreness, but diet also plays a role in recovery. Tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fatty fish like salmon and tuna and fruits, especially berries, have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce muscle soreness, so remember to add them into your post-workout recovery meals along with the right amount of protein and carbs.

4) Massage: Sport massage is probably the most well known massage for regular exercisers, and although it isn’t the most relaxing of massages its benefits are worth it, as it helps muscles to recover, relieves tightness, and helps assess and treat minor injuries before they become worse.