Having sore muscles is no fun; they hinder you from your usual daily functioning, and they can be rather painful. Whether you experience delayed onset muscle soreness from strenuous workouts, or muscle soreness for other reasons, one thing is sure; you want the soreness gone, fast. But, instead of going directly for painkillers, we believe there are better ways of dealing with this issue. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, we’ll take a look at the best home remedies you can use to treat sore muscles and get back to action in no time. So, let’s get started!
Sore Muscles: What You Need to Know
What Does It Mean To Have Sore Muscles?
Having sore muscles means there are micro-teras in the muscle fibers, which are causing inflammation. The inflammation occurs due to the release of cytokine or the buildup of lactic acid, which can be prevented with certain painkillers, or home remedies. Muscle soreness can occur after exertion, and over time, as the tissue rebuilds, it decreases and doesn’t occur as frequently.
What Causes Sore Muscles?
Muscles soreness can be caused by numerous different things and factors, some of which are;
- Strenuous exercise,
- Injury or muscle overuse (muscle wear out),
- Poor circulation or blood flow issues (usually caused by lack of movement/activity)
- Medication, anesthetics, chemotherapy drugs,
- Poor nutrition and lack of minerals (magnesium, calcium, potassium), etc.
Are Sore Muscles And Muscle Cramps, Sprains Or Strains The Same?
Having sore muscles simply means there is an inflammation going on due to overuse of the muscles, and it usually goes away pretty quickly. If muscle soreness occurs from a strenuous workout, it disappears within a day or two. However, the other types of muscle issues, like cramps or strains are a bit different;
- Muscle cramps – this is when a painful tightening or contraction of the muscle occurs. It occurs out of the blue and lasts quite shortly, from few seconds to few minutes. Muscle cramps don’t require particular attention unless they occur frequently, then they might be a sign of an underlying condition.
- Muscle strains – having a muscle strain means a muscle is overstretched and torn. This is a type of injury that occurs after a fall, twist, or a strong impact on the muscle. Sometimes, even overuse of the muscles can result in strains.
- Muscle sprains – having a muscle sprain is a pretty serious issue. It is a form of injury, and results after an injury to a ligament, which is a tissue between the bones and joints. Muscle sprain means that the ligaments are stretched and torn, and it can be rather painful. Muscle sprains require medical attention and usually physical therapy.
Is Having Sore Muscles Normal?
Yes, having sore muscles is normal, and you shouldn’t worry about them. Especially if you experience sore muscles after a workout, it means that your muscles are putting in some work. However, having sore muscles for a day or two is okay, but if it lasts for more than 72 hours, that may be a sign of serious overexertion or even damage and injury to the muscle.
In such a case, you might want to seek some professional help. Otherwise, some home remedies can help you get over sore muscles and get back on track in no time. We also recommend you gradually increase the intensity of your workout, just so you avoid muscle damage, sprains, and serious injury.
6 Best Home Remedies For Muscle Soreness
1. Applying Cold Or Heat
Instead of going for painkillers, first, try to alleviate the muscle soreness by applying some ice or heat. However, cold and heat will affect your muscle soreness differently, and here’s how;
- Cold – ice packs, for example, should be applied in cases of pulled muscles, muscle inflammation, bruising, redness, and swelling. When muscles are sore, an ice pack will numb the area, and therefore lower the pain as well. However, ice packs or exposure of the muscle to cold will slow the body’s natural healing process, so make sure to bear that in mind. Many experts even believe that the ‘cold treatment’ might only delay the inflammation of the muscles, rather than preventing it. But, if you’re looking for a quick fix, ice packs will surely help you out.
- Heat – a hot towel, for example, when applied onto a sore muscle will soothe and relax it, relieve any tension and pain as well. If you experience muscle soreness in different areas of the body, we recommend you take a warm shower or bath to release the tension from tight muscles in the arms, shoulders, back, and legs. The warmth will promote healing of the muscles, and help reduce inflammation.
2. Getting A Massage
Unless you’re experiencing muscle sprains or muscle injury, getting a massage can help you out with muscle soreness. However, we don’t recommend a massage that is heavy-handed and hitting the deep tissue right away. Instead, the massage should be gentle and tender, just enough to relax the muscle, and then the blood flow going into the sore areas. Gentle massage will help the oxygen get into the sore areas as well, and this will result in all the toxic waste leaving the muscles. When we say toxic waste, we mean the cytokine and lactic acid, known to cause muscle inflammation.
Note: Massage should be avoided in case of muscle damage and injury. If the injury is musculoskeletal, the injured area shouldn’t be massage in the first 24 or 48 hours, to avoid aggravating the injury and causing more pain. Instead, applying an ice pack to the area should work better, at least in terms of inflammation reduction and reduction of redness and swelling.
3. Resting And Elevating
Now, having sore muscles usually indicates that you’re having a hard time moving around, or even going to the gym again the next day to do another workout. And, guess what, there is a reason why that happens. Your body is in desperate need of relaxation so that your muscles can fully recover and let the inflammation reduce and go away. So, we surely recommend making yourself a cup of tea and lying down for the evening. Use this time to catch up on that one book you’ve started, or simply take a nice little nap.
What we also advise is to ensure that the sore areas are elevated while lying down and resting. For example, if the sore muscle areas are in your legs, when you lie down, simply put a pillow under your knees or feet, and keep them elevated. Elevation will help the body establish proper circulation and blood flow, therefore bring more oxygen to the muscle tears and prevent or reduce inflammation.
Note: You don’t have to rest for days. Get some rest every day, while doing some things around as well. We don’t suggest you go straight to the gym the second your muscles start feeling normal again. Instead, try to go for a walk, a swim or you can go and ride your bicycle. This won’t put your muscles under a lot of pressure and will allow you to easily strengthen your muscles and prepare them for the hardcore gym workout.
4. Epsom Salt And Magnesium
Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), and magnesium oil (magnesium chloride) will do wonders for your sore muscles. Here’s how;
- Epsom salt – having a cup of Epsom salt dissolved in warm water will provide an excellent result for muscle soreness. All you have to do is add a cup or two of the salt in a warm bathtub and soak in there for a couple of minutes (15 minutes max). Do this several times a week, or after a strenuous workout or long work hours. However, if you have a heart condition, diabetes, sensitive skin, or high blood pressure, we don’t recommend Epsom salt baths.
- Magnesium oil – the best way to directly affect the sore muscle area is by using the magnesium oil spray. This is an inexpensive, quick little trick that will reduce the soreness and prevent inflammation of muscles. You can spray the usually sore areas with the spray before work or workout to prevent soreness and injury, or after to experience some immediate relief. The oil does have a specific consistency, and when applied onto freshly shaven legs (or other areas), it may sting.
- Oral magnesium – oral magnesium intake may help not only with muscle soreness but also help you prevent muscle issues in the future. You can take magnesium supplements, or you can (as we recommend) try out a high-magnesium diet. This means you’ll have to increase the intake of foods like pumpkin and pumpkin seeds (which shouldn’t be hard during this fall time), black beans, almonds, cocoa powder, spinach, cashews, sesame and sunflower seeds, etc.
5. Turning To Spices We All Have At Home
Studies show that herbs and natural supplements can have incredible effects on muscle soreness or the prevention of soreness symptoms and effects. So, alongside the previously mentioned tips and tricks, we suggest you try introducing some of the following spices in your muscle soreness therapy;
- Turmeric – traditionally, turmeric has been applied for thousands of years to reduce pain and inflammation. Its chemical components have anti-inflammatory properties, which prevent the activation of the inflammatory cytokine or the buildup of lactic acid. Turmeric can also help with joint pain; just soaking your legs or arms in some turmeric water can do wonders for your muscles soreness and muscle/joint pain. We suggest you also introduce turmeric to your nutrition and oral intake.
- Ginger – there is numerous scientific evidence showing the incredible anti-inflammatory effectiveness of ginger. This spice is traditionally used in treatments of inflammation and pain because it inhibits the production of inflammatory chemicals. Sure, ginger consumption might not reduce muscle soreness right away, but over time reduces the progression of the pain and prevents the occurrence of painful inflammations.
- Cinnamon – apart from making every apple pie incredibly tasty, cinnamon is known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in regards to muscle soreness and pain. Cinnamon has been used to treat inflammatory diseases for ages now, and its effects have been noticed in the reduction of muscle soreness. One particular study of 49 female taekwondo players showed that regular ginger and cinnamon supplementation changed the muscle soreness and ensured muscle strengthening in the players.
- Caffeine – caffeine has shown to be effective when it comes to reducing muscle pain, in cases of forearm and quadriceps muscle pain and soreness. It has analgesic effects and affects the nerves in our body responsible for pain transmission. It also affects that way our body processes pain, which is an incredible discovery. Regular coffee intake (up to 200mg of caffeine) should help you out with sore muscles, so make sure to try it out.
And last, but not least, one of the best home remedies for sore muscles is simply water. Dehydration is known to cause muscle soreness on its own. So, when you’re dehydrated, and you add a strenuous workout to that, your muscles become incredibly inflamed and painful. So, to prevent that from happening, make sure to stay hydrated, and have a minimum of 8 glasses of water every day. If you exercise, your normal water intake should be even higher. Hydration shouldn’t be a surprising advice, it is simply necessary for your day-to-day function. So, stay hydrated, and you will stay healthy.
Final Thoughts On Managing Muscle Soreness And Pain
Indeed, we don’t have to see our doctor for every single thing that occurs in our body. Muscle soreness is completely normal, especially if you lead an active lifestyle (or even if you lead an incredibly sedentary lifestyle). It is all about finding the balance in your daily activities and movement so that your muscles don’t feel under pressure.
However, pain is never a good sign, especially if it’s persistent. So, if your regular muscle soreness turns into a week of pain, make sure to seek a professional medical evaluation. It is important to know when home remedies don’t work, and when a professional needs to step in.Also Read: 6 Best Natural Muscle Relaxants for Real Relief