1 - Ice or heat
If your muscles are sore as a result of some strenuous exercise then a hot water bottle, heat pad or even a relaxing bubble bath could help to ease the problem. Heat soothes and relaxes the muscles but it also provides some natural pain relief – perfect!
If you are suffering from the likes of a pulled muscle however, then some ice is the better option. This will help to calm any inflammation, bruising, swelling or redness, plus it acts as a great numbing agent meaning it should ease any pain too.
If you are still unsure whether ice or heat is the better option for you then I’d recommend you read my blog on the topic which will give you some further information.
2 – Rest and elevate
When exercise makes your muscles sore the last thing they need is to be put under more pressure so that gym session or run you had planned is definitely not a good idea at this time! Instead of this kind of vigorous activity don’t be afraid to sit down and put your feet up as this will give your muscles time to recover. Also, keeping the area elevated should help keep inflammation to a minimum.
That being said, I’m not suggesting you should spend the whole day in the same position doing absolutely nothing. Alongside a little bit of rest, walks, a gentle swim or even a bicycle ride may help to ease tension in the muscles without putting them under too much pressure. The key however, is not to do anything too extreme!
3 – Get a massage
Research suggests that a massage could ease muscle pain, particularly if that discomfort is caused by your exercise regime.1 A massage is believed to work by relaxing the muscles however, some researchers would go as far as saying it encourages cell renewal too which will, in turn, speed up recovery.2 So, if you can, it’s worth booking a day out to the spa next time you are suffering from sore muscles!
4 – Try Atrogel
Ok, so this one isn’t technically a home remedy but it’s too good not to mention here! Atrogel is made from freshly harvested, handpicked Arnica Montana flower heads which are full of sesquiterpene lactones. These are thought to have anti-inflammatory effects making the remedy ideal for treating sore muscles, as well as sprains, stiffness, bruises and swelling.
Arnica cannot be used on broken skin but it is not contraindicated with any medicines and is not commonly associated with any side effects. As a result, when it comes to treating muscle pain it is an excellent natural option.
5 – Hydrate
If you are prone to muscle soreness during or after exercise (which is otherwise known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS for short) then it could be to do with the fact you are not drinking enough water. Dehydration can contribute to muscle cramps, plus you are more prone to the problem during exercise because you sweat more.4
So, whether you are off for a jog or are participating in an exercise class, make sure you have a bottle of plain, still water with you – no energy drinks or fruit juice will do!
6 – Get some magnesium!
Magnesium deficiencies are a common occurrence and as this can contribute to muscle spasms and cramps, it’s really important to up your intake if you experience these kinds of symptoms. In the long run these problems can develop into muscle weakness and impaired muscle co-ordination so the earlier you can increase your consumption the better.
It is difficult to store magnesium so we must use our diet to get a regular intake. My top magnesium-rich foods include spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs and bananas. This is quite a variety of ingredients so you shouldn’t find it too difficult to come up with a range of snacks and meals that incorporate them. However, if you need a helping hand or are looking for something new to try, I’d recommend you have a look at our recipe hub for some inspiration – anyone for an apple and spinach smoothie?
In order to get more magnesium into your system a supplement is another option, though I’d always suggest you choose these carefully as you don’t want to end up getting too much magnesium.
Our Balance Mineral Drink is a good option as it contains zinc, calcium, potassium and vitamin D alongside a healthy dose of magnesium. Together this helps to support normal muscle function and bone maintenance, plus the fact it is in liquid form means it is easily absorbed by the body too!
7 - Get more sleep
Research has shown that sleep deprivation can enhance pain sensitivity, as well as lowering the pain threshold too.5 When we are tired we often rely on caffeine to see us through our day-to-day activities and whilst this can actually subdue pain for a short while, if you take it too close to bedtime it risks making sleep problems and pain worse.6
If you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep then fortunately help is at hand! Our Sleep Advisor Marianna has written a range of blogs on the topic, some of which I’ve listed below.
8 – Try turmeric
There is evidence to suggest that turmeric reduces the pain associated with DOMS as it helps the muscles recover more quickly.7 However, on top of this turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which has anti-inflammatory properties. This is seen to be beneficial in reducing and managing arthritic pain.8
Turmeric is safe in small quantities and is often used for cooking and flavouring food so as long as you don’t mind the taste, there’s little downside to using it.
If you’d really like to reap the benefits of turmeric though, a supplement is a good option.
9 – Mindful movement
This one might not be for everyone but if you are open to the idea then it could benefit those aching muscles!
In one study conducted in 2016, people who practiced seated meditation for 20 minutes a day had a smaller reaction to a painful stimulus than those who sat and read a book. The research didn’t include people with chronic pain, but the authors say meditation could have potential as an alternative to painkillers like opioid drugs.9
Meditation helps the brain relax and it is possible to get into a state where some of its regions can be slowed down. This might, in turn, reduce the focus on pain or the attention to small painful stimuli and as a result it might make people feel better.
10 – Avoid inflammatory foods
If you experience muscle pain, I’m sure you are beginning to realise that what you eat (or, indeed, what you don’t eat) could have a big impact on your symptoms.
If you make a habit of avoiding foods that promote inflammation and eat foods that help reduce it, this can be helpful in reducing pain throughout the body.
When it comes to inflammatory foods, processed goods such as ready meals, crisps, sweets and some meats are the biggest culprits so if you can its best to avoid these. On the other hand, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as various nuts and seeds, can help to fight inflammation.
11 – Try a painkiller
There are a range of painkillers that can be bought over the counter to help ease muscle pain. However, if your pain is severe, or you feel you need the painkillers to carry on as normal, then I’d definitely recommend you go to your doctor to discuss the issue further. They will be able to do some initial investigations, and then offer advice on medication or further support if it’s necessary.
12 - Does apple cider vinegar help with sore muscles?
Many runners and fitness enthusiasts proclaim the benefits of apple cider vinegar after a workout but does this really work?
Apple cider vinegar has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (as well as a host of other benefits!) and so the answer is definitely yes, it could help sore muscles.
Apple cider vinegar is best used before a workout to help prevent the onset of muscle cramps. You can drink it straight from the bottle but if you prefer things a little sweeter just add a touch of honey. Alternatively, stir 1-2 teaspoons into your favourite smoothie recipe to get a boost of vitamins and minerals at the same time.
So, if you are suffering from a bout of muscle pain there are a whole variety of home remedies you can try to help ease the problem!