You can end up with sore muscles for any number of reasons: because you worked out too hard, neglected to warm up or cool down, or just tried something your body has never done before. While you may want to lie in bed and do absolutely nothing when you’re that sore, there are ways to work through it and bounce back faster — and you’ll find one of them in your medicine cabinet.
Janette Nesheiwat, MD, recommended ibuprofen for sore muscles because it’s an anti-inflammatory. “Most people without any allergies or underlying disease (like GERD or liver and kidney problems) can take ibuprofen,” she said. However, she noted that it should always be taken with food and never for an extended period of time. (Taking the medicine for days on end can have some serious side effects.)
“The best thing to do when you have sore muscles is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, though,” Dr. Nesheiwat said. While ibuprofen is a simple remedy, it’s important to supplement the medicine with a lot of water and even something like an Epsom salt bath or a light massage. “But again, the best treatment is hydration,” she said.
If your sore muscles persist or get worse, even with treatment, Dr. Nesheiwat recommended seeing your doctor immediately. “This is to ensure you don’t have what’s called rhabdo, which is severe muscle injury or breakdown that can result in kidney problems.” It’s also important to check with your doctor if you have any doubts about taking the ibuprofen in the first place, because starting any new medicine — even an over-the-counter one — should be cleared by your doctor.