Forget that old saying 'no pain, no gain'! Why should we put up with aching muscles and joints? For those looking for alternative pain-relieving methods, in particular, there are a number of options. From issues caused by sporting injuries to long-term problems like arthritis, here I run through the options!
Louise Baillie S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3 @ActiveLouise Ask Louise
03 March 2021
What helps muscle and joint pain naturally?
Pain-relieving medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen are often the go-to treatment for sore muscles and joint pain. However, taking these long term can put an extra strain on the liver1, and may even damage the stomach lining, potentially causing ulcers.2
Natural treatments aid the body's own healing process, giving it the time to heal properly rather than trying to hurry the process up and causing weaknesses, as well as the potential for further injury. For the most part, they can be used long-term with little to no side effects.
So, what methods are there for easing your muscle and joint pain naturally?
Injury to the muscles and joints, particularly sporting injuries, may benefit from a little bit of rest. So, consider 'PRICE' a well-known acronym for muscular and joint pain relief:
Protect – your joint from further injury by ceasing the activity you are performing.
Rest – the joint and only begin to use it again gently and once the symptoms have cleared.
Ice – the injured area. It is important to wrap your ice-pack or frozen peas in a tea towel or you may injure your skin. Keep re-applying ice packs over the next 24 hours.
Compress – use a bandage to support the injury and to prevent further swelling
Elevate – if you can. Keeping the injury above the level of your heart will minimise swelling.
After an injury, it is also important not to do any further damage to the area within the next 72 hours. Therefore, follow these steps to avoid additional 'harm':
Heat – it is not usually a good idea to apply this to a sporting injury such as a sprain or strain, as it encourages blood flow around the injury, increasing swelling. Heat is great for easing stiffness in older injuries, but not so good for fresh injuries.
Alcohol – consumption can exacerbate the injury as it slows the healing process.
Running – or any other exercise or sudden movement of the joint will only cause further damage.
Massaging – immediately after an injury will increase blood flow and cause more swelling and pain.
There are instances when massage can prove beneficial for muscle and joint pain, though.
A massage after exercise may prevent muscular pain and stiffness, for one. When we exercise, tiny micro-tears appear in the muscles, causing inflammation as the body repairs the muscle. When a muscle is massaged, glucose is converted into energy which has a key role in muscle repair.
Conventional anti-inflammatory and pain-killing drugs help to ease symptoms but do not encourage muscle repair, making you more prone to developing injuries. It is for this reason that many people prefer a therapeutic massage, as the long-term results are likely to be more effective.
My Self-Care Tip: Dealing with sore muscles after exercise
Achy muscles after exercise are a common occurrence, particularly if you are doing more exercise than normal. Here's what I suggest you do to help the problem!
Arnica has been used for many years as a 'first-aid' treatment following injuries. It helps to ease inflammation and bruising but also has painkilling properties.
Arnica can be found in licensed herbal remedies such as Atrogel Arnica Gel, which is applied directly to the injured or painful area. Have Atrogel handy to smooth onto these areas for the symptomatic relief of muscular aches, pains and stiffness, sprains, bruises and swelling after an injury. Exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy.
Extremely swift in action, Atrogel Arnica Gel reduces inflammation and the pain that accompanies it, allowing joints and muscles to recover without undue fuss. This should allow a slightly more dignified step than the usual hobble of the day-after-the-match!
While team sports and contact sports are great fun, they can end up with you showing off a range of spectacular bruises. When other people's elbows or knees take to your ribs as their goal, make sure that Atrogel Arnica Gel is spread onto the afflicted area as soon as possible. This will avert the worst of the bruising, reducing the need to wince at all contact for the next week.
4. Devil’s Claw
If your muscle and joint aches are more chronic (long-term), for example, from a poorly healed injury or a condition such as arthritis, you can take Atrosan. These are made from fresh Devil's Claw extract and are licensed for relieving muscle and joint aches and pains.
A.Vogel Atrosan Devil’s Claw tablets for aches and pains - 60 tablets
Preparation is key to pain reduction, with many sensible supplements available to help soothe those newly agile limbs as they fight their way from trembling to toned.
Glucosamine sulphate – this is a chemical found naturally in the body, which helps to strengthen ligaments and tendons around joints.3 When exercising and training, it is important to have sufficient quantities of this in the body, to fully repair your joints. You can take glucosamine sulphate in doses up to 1500mg daily as a handy buffer for your joints. It is particularly helpful for runners who are pounding on hard surfaces for several hours every week.
Ginger – although this is a herb commonly used to spice up your food, some people also find that it is effective as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory for painful joints.4
Vitamin C – when your muscles become stiff and sore a day or two after intense exercise, vitamin C supplements may prove helpful. They can be taken shortly before and after exercise may reduce achy muscles, particularly if you are new to exercise.5