Trying to get through the day with sore muscles is a pain. Whether you’re feeling the burn after an intense workout or you’ve strained your shoulder reaching for the remote, chances are you want relief and fast.
Before you reach for the over-the-counter pain pills, there are some scientifically proven home remedies that might work just as well as anything you'll find in your medicine cabinet.
Listening to your favorite tunes triggers the release of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with reward. The powerful effect music has on your mind and body can override pain signals. And, although results are inconclusive, some studies show that it might also reduce pain intensity.
(Hey, if nothing else, a little air guitar or hairbrush mic time never hurt anyone.)
When your muscles are aching, exercise is probably the last thing you feel like doing. But believe it or not, as little as 10 minutes of non-strenuous activity can help ease muscle inflammation, restore mobility, and boost blood flow to jumpstart the healing process.
Try doing a few yoga moves, going for a stroll, or riding your bike around the block. Although you might be a little sore at the start, the feel-good endorphins your body releases during exercise will provide natural pain relief.
By staying active, you’re speeding up the healing process. While it may be tempting to ride out the pain on the couch for a few days, a sedentary lifestyle slows down your body’s ability to repair damaged muscle tissue.
Although gentle stretching won’t magically heal microscopic tears in your muscle fibers, it can ease the tightness and spasms that are making you sore and help restore your full range of motion.
The keyword here is gentle. If you stretch beyond what you’re physically comfortable with, you’ll end up making the pain worse. Your body will let you know your limits.
When your muscles are sore, sometimes the best thing you can do is chill. Ice pack therapy or cold water immersion can reduce some of the swelling, spasming, and tenderness from a recent muscle injury. Cold temperatures constrict blood vessels and numb nerve endings, temporarily relieving inflammation and pain. Just remember to never put an ice pack directly on bare skin, or you could have frostbite to deal with too.
Magnesium is a mineral that is vital to musculoskeletal health and recovery from injury. Inconveniently, strenuous activity depletes magnesium levels, and studies show that people with low magnesium levels are less able to fight the inflammation that often results from it.
While you could increase your magnesium intake with supplements, it’s easy to add more of this important mineral to your diet naturally. Foods that contain high levels of magnesium include nuts, seeds, legumes, dark chocolate, bananas, leafy greens, and avocados.
When it comes to soothing sore muscles, a good massage certainly won't rub you the wrong way.
Apart from the fact it feels amazing, gentle massage therapy reduces inflammation and boosts circulation to aid in cell repair and function. Not only does it ease overall pain, but it also improves emotional well-being, relaxation, and the ability to fall asleep.
The type of massage matters, of course. When you’re already sore, a light-pressure Swedish massage will be more beneficial than a heavy-handed deep tissue massage.
Short on time or on a budget? You don’t need to hire a professional masseuse to reap the benefits. Using a moisturizer to massage your sore muscles in the bath or shower works in a pinch.
Rolling your body over foam-covered tubes to soothe sore muscles might sound a little loopy, but many gym-goers swear by foam rollers to improve muscle function and ease post-workout myofascial pain.
So, does it work? One study found that not only does foam rolling reduce muscle soreness after a workout, but it can also boost future performance. It makes sense: when exercise hurts less, you can do a lot more of it.
There’s nothing like a little shut-eye to shut down muscle pain. Your body heals itself during its deepest sleep cycles, so catching plenty of zzz’s is essential.
When you enter the non-REM stage of sleep, your pituitary glands send out a surge of growth hormones that stimulate muscle repair and regeneration. To help your body make a full recovery from injury, you need at least seven hours of quality sleep each night.
If you’re having trouble nodding off, improve your sleep hygiene: turn off all screens at least an hour before going to bed.
Muscles burning? You might want to fire up your favorite comedy series on Netflix. We're not joking!
Laughter triggers your body to release “happy hormones” known as endorphins, which can increase pain tolerance. Although the relief might be short-lived, a good belly laugh won’t hurt the healing process.
You can’t beat a nice, hot bath for muscle pain relief. A good 20 minutes of warm water therapy, as doctors call it, is enough to soothe tension throughout the body and relax your musculoskeletal system from head to toe, staving off painful spasms. A bath before bed also makes it easier to fall asleep, which, as we mentioned, increases how much strained muscles heal overnight.
For additional relief, add two to four cups of Epsom salt to the bath. This mineral contains inflammation-easing magnesium, and studies suggest it can draw out problematic compounds in the muscles.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.