Make your body happy again- 8 tips to ease muscle pain

how-to-ease-muscle-pain
When our muscles are sore, our first instinct is often to reach for the ibuprofen tablet. However, researchers have shown that natural alternatives can help just as well soothe your minor muscle aches and possibly prevent them from happening again.
Whether you’ve overdone it at the gym, feeling stiff after sitting or standing all day, keep reading for easy soothing tips and make your body happy again.*

Stop the damage

First, cease any activity that is causing the pain. This may sound obvious, but it can be easy to forget once you get caught in the excitement of performance or competition (yes, you know who you are).

See pain as your body’s alarm system. Its main purpose is to protect your body. When the alarm goes off, it is a way of telling you to stop, because if you keep going, it will be damaged.

Know when to use ice or heat

There is lots of confusion about this. Icing and heat therapy are easy and safe options to soothe muscle soreness but only when used correctly. Use them poorly, and you could make your pain worse than it already is.

If your injury is fresh, use ice in the first 72 hours to cool down the affected area.

Once the inflammation is gone and the worst is over, switch to heat. This well help reducing symptoms of muscle stiffness or tightness.

Always stay away from heat if your muscles are red, swollen or hot.

active-rest

Rest… actively

All right, the idea of active rest may sound oxymoronic. Sure, you clearly want to stay away from any intense exercise after a brutal workout. But curling on your sofa and wait for the muscle pain to go away will not solve your problem either.

When I pulled my harmstring many years ago, I was told to stop any activity for a month and that “everything will be ok”. Well, one month later, the pain was still there and my harmstring was weaker.

The best thing you can do is to address the pain through light activity and exercises. This will speed up your recovery and help your muscle soreness.

 Breathe…

I mean for real. When was the last time you paid attention to your breath? You’d be surprised how slow and controlled breathing can be good at reducing muscle pain.

One of my favourite technique is the “belly” or diaphragmatic breathing. First, find a relaxed position in a quiet room. Imagine having a balloon in your stomach that is inflating and deflating. Place one of your hands on your chest and the other on your belly. Try to have just the hand over your belly move as you breathe. Take a deep breath in through your nose, then slowly breathe out through your mouth (or through your nose if you prefer).

Try to practice for 10 minutes each day in the morning or before you go to bed. This will help you to relax your muscles while evacuating the stress of the day.

soothe-muscle-soreness

Adore your foam roll

If you can afford a sports massage or get your partner to treat you with a nice one then awesome. If, however, the masseuse is not an option, then it’s well worth considering the joys of foam rolling.

Foam rolling not only prepares your body for the stresses of a workout, but it also relieves aches by untying those muscle knots.

For better results, try to foam roll 2 or 3 times a week. Use the roller until you get a sensation of release but don’t force too much. The more you use it, the more comfortable it will become.

 Stretch wisely

When muscles are in recovery mode they tend to tighten up and may make you feel even more sore. That’s when gentle stretching can help.  Slow, controlled stretching of the area will help you to release that tension and diffuse the pain.

Start by warming up for 5 to 10 minutes with light activity to avoid any injury. Then once you are ready, stretch the affected area and hold for at least 5 seconds. Go only to the point where you feel mild tension so that it doesn’t hurt. If you feel any pain, ease off on the stretching.

 stretch-muscle-pain

Watch your diet

Nutrition is key for muscle recovery.  Eat the wrong food and you could make your symptoms worse.

Stay hydrated and eat foods rich in protein, omega 3 and bioflavonoids such as beans, eggs, fish, quinoa or green leaves. These will help muscle repair while also reducing inflammation.

Avoid coffee, alcohol and any processed foods such as crisps, pies and cakes as they will increase dehydration and inflammation.

Correct your posture

This is an important one. No matter how well you exercise, stretch or massage, if you have poor posture, you will add more strain to your muscles and cause more damage to your body.

A simple way to identify whether you have poor posture is to take note of your body alignment throughout the day. Think about day-to-day activities, such as standing in line, sitting in an office chair or carrying objects.

If you find this difficult to do it yourself, speak to a personal trainer or a physiotherapist. They will help you to identify potential imbalances and provide exercises to correct your posture.

 

*Although this article is based on previous studies and personal experience, it is not intended to replace or substitute any medical advice. If your pain persists, or if you have a medical emergency, please see a doctor.

33 Comments
  1. I have an intensive job in the hospital and this was really helpful. I didn’t realize that you should put ice on it for the first 72hrs. That is very helpful!

  2. I so needed to read this right now. I’ve had a nagging shoulder injury that just won’t seem to go away and I’m not a big fan of taking pain pills. So I’m guessing I need to dig out that foam roller of mine again and do some deep breathing for a bit. Thanks Marie

  3. I have heard before how important stretching is before and after you do any activity. I remember how in school I used to hate it and always tried to skip it in the pe classes. But now, every time I go to the gym I do stretch for at least 5 minutes before and after the workout.

    1. Hi Joana. Yes make sure you do you dynamic stretches before your workout and your static stretches once your muscles are warm.

  4. One tip I used to always use when I was in training at the gym was paracetamol. I would take one tablet before any gym activity, and one tablet after the activity – it would always help with easing muscle pain, though obviously isn’t a natural remedy like you’ve listed above. It did work wonders though x

    1. Hey Becca, paracetamol can only help to a certain extent. Try one of the natural techniques above and see if any works for you. I’d love to hear back from you!:)

  5. I totally agree with the posture. I am always surprised by how many people complain about back pain – but they slouch! I haven’t gotten on the foam rolling bandwagon yet, but I’ve heard a lot of good information about myofascial release and it’s addition to a fitness routine.

    1. Thanks for your comment Alicia. If you experience knots or tightness on a regular basis, foam rolling and appropriate stretching should help. 🙂

  6. Oh this was so insightful, I honestly had no idea what the different of using heat or ice to sooth aches was or when to use which method. I will be passing on that information to my dad. I also use those breathing techniques sometimes to help me fall asleep – not sure if thats the right use heh 🙂

    1. Thanks Ifthfifi! Breathing techniques is also great to improve your sleep so if it helps you , I would definitely carry on with it!

  7. These are all absolutely wonderful and helpful tips but I especially liked leaning when to properly use ice and heat. I always confuse those when I’m needing to use them…

  8. Very good tips. I start working out again next month and I have not been looking forward to the muscle pain I will experience. Definitely going to use these tips as I ease myself back into a workout schedule.

  9. This is a great post and packed full of really useful and helpful tips! I am a huge fan of diaphragmatic breathing, I recently found out about it and it has changed my life, if I need to calm down I practise the breathing techniques and I feel so much calmer, it even helps me fall to sleep 🙂

  10. I think it is very important to know when to use ice and when to use heat on your muscles. I have to admit that I had no idea, I usually just go for the heat patches.

  11. I am so glad I came across this because I really need these tips. My legs are killing me after getting back into exercise so I really appreciate these tips.

  12. These are some great reminders and very helpful tips. I think I need to start stretching before my daily workout. Thanks for sharing this. Will keep this in my mind.

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