By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Sore muscles are a total bummer, but luckily we’ve got some natural tips to help ease those achy muscles.
What causes muscle pain?
Muscle pain can be caused by a variety of issues including hard workouts, dehydration, lack of certain nutrients, and fibromyalgia, etc. The cause of the muscle soreness will also determine the type of treatment that may help to provide relief.
Exercise-Related Aches & Pains
These are often due to minor muscle damage done during exercise, dehydration, and insufficient nutrients and electrolytes provided post-exercise.
Relieve exercise-related muscle soreness with:
1. Tart Cherry Juice
Research suggests that the anthocyanins (a compound loaded with antioxidants) may help to reduce inflammation within the muscle.
2. Beet Juice
Beets are loaded with natural electrolytes- potassium and sodium, and can help to naturally replenish electrolytes lost through sweat during an exercise bout. Other electrolyte-rich beverages that may help to replenish those lost through sweat include coconut water, and other juices made of red, orange, and yellow produce.
New research is suggesting that drinking 1-2 cups of coffee pre-workout may help to prevent or reduce post-exercise muscle soreness due to its ability to block adenosine, a compound that can cause pain.
Water is also essential to preventing muscle soreness both in post-exercise situations and in general. Many people who experience muscle soreness are actually dehydrated (ever had a charlie-horse in the middle of the night? likely related to dehydration).
General Muscle Soreness & Aches & Pains
These may or may not be related to chronic conditions, but most sore muscles can find relief with a few natural remedies.
Relieve general muscle soreness with:
Fluids are key as they are pertinent to both exercise-related soreness and also to general muscle soreness. As previously mentioned, lack of adequate fluids is one of the most common causes of muscle cramps and soreness- even in people who do not exercise. It’s important to rethink how much fluid you give your body on a daily basis and make sure you’re getting around 2 liters (64 oz) daily.
Considered an electrolyte, magnesium is key for preventing muscle soreness and cramping. With the increase in consumption of processed foods in the US and around the world, research is suggesting that many people may not get enough magnesium. Magnesium is also key for restful sleep. Learn everything you need to know about magnesium and how you can get more of it.
3. Epsom salts
Epsom salt is a classic remedy for sore muscles. Made of magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt help to relax sore and tense muscles by providing the key electrolyte-magnesium through the skin (your body may actually be able to best absorb magnesium this way); additionally, the warmth of the bathtub may also help to relax sore and tense muscles. An Epsom salt bath works well both for post-workout soreness and also for general soreness.
4. Massage therapy
Nothing feels better than a massage, and massage can act as a form of meditation for many, which in itself can provide relaxation and relief from tension. Massage therapy has been found to be powerful in helping to relax sore and tense muscles.
One of the main compounds found in spicy peppers may be able to help with pain relief. When applied topically in the form of a cream, capsacin may promote the release of a compound called substance P that may help naturally to promote pain relief. Topical capsacin has long been used to prevent pain relief in many chronic diseases that cause muscle aches and pains.
Exercise for relief of muscle pain may sound counter-intuitive, however getting active is one of the key components to preventing muscle soreness and other aches and pains. Our bodies were made to move, and our sedentary lifestyle that includes sitting most of the day can cause severe muscle pains in itself. Go for a leisurely walk, take part in a gentle yoga class- simple movement can really help. Here are 24 ways to exercise without the gym.
7. Meditation: Meditation and other similar practices that promote relaxation can help to ease stress, which allows for improved relief of tension often held in our muscles and in our bodies. Abdi Assadi can take you through a beginner meditation practice.