Sore muscles are kind of a bittersweet feeling. Sweet because they’re such tangible proof that you’ve used your muscles. I can’t help smiling to myself a bit after a hard day of skiing or biking when I can’t walk down the stairs well. I can just envision my muscle definition improving.
As for the bitter side of things . . . I’m sure you know that all too well. In fact today, I’m doing everything gingerly due to a sore neck. Kickboxing . . .free-weight squats . . .carrying feedbags . . .I’m not sure of the cause. But boy, does my neck and shoulder hurt.
Here are my favorite ways to get relief from this sore muscle pain. The sooner I feel better, the quicker I can get back to moving with ease.
1. Arnica Montana. Arnica Montana is an herb that survives in the most amazing places. I used to find it growing up through the sidewalk cracks in New York city! But if you’re not an herb hunter, you can get the same arnica effects by using a rub-on lotion or taking it internally as a homeopathic remedy.
Arnica increases blood flow and thus helps the muscles heal. Rub it on where it hurts and let it do its work. You’ll be amazed!
2. Magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral for your body. It’s used in over 300 different reactions. A most notably, it plays a key role in helping both muscles and nerves relax. Sore? Get some magnesium in your system and your muscles can recover that much more quickly.
I’ve got two favorite ways to get magnesium to sore muscles. One, we all take a daily magnesium supplement with a slow release system made by Jigsawhealth.com. On days with extra physical activity, I may add an extra 500 mg to my dosage.
Magnesium is also the main active ingredient of good old Epsom salts. You can pick these up cheap at Walmart, mix them into a nice warm bath and sink in to bliss. Or soak a washcloth in Epsom salted water and lay it on where it hurts. Plenty of research indicates your body can absorb nutrition through your skin and Epsom salts seem to do a fine job of this.
3. Heat. Okay, basic basic. Heat just soaks in there and makes your whole body relax, including your muscles. Staying warm is actually an important way to prevent soreness and injury. And yes, nothing takes the place of a hot bath after a tough workout.
However, sometimes a bath isn’t available – you’ve got things to do or the bath plug doesn’t work (Grr). One of my favorite heat sources are these pads stuffed with rice or oats or salt or some other nice thermal mass, throw in the microwave for a couple minutes and then just apply where it hurts. I’ve actually got a lovely lavender scented one draped over my shoulder as I type. And it’s making my neck feel soooo good!
4. Rest. Yes, your body needs recovery time. Especially as we get older and exercise. It just takes our bodies, down to our muscle tissue cells, more time to bounce back. So integrate rest into your exercise through use of intervals. Vary your exercise. Get a good night’s sleep. And sometimes just take a day off.
5. Exercise. Okay, here it seems like I’m contradicting myself. But just as your muscles need rest, they also need to be used to work through this tough spot. Soreness is your muscles saying, “Wow! I haven’t done this before. I’m going to pull back.” Yes, rest and let them take a breather. But don’t sign off completely.
Even if you’re still sore, get back and work those muscles again. Your muscles will then adjust to the increased demand. Not only does this mean less soreness – but it also means you’re gaining muscles.
Also, exercise brings that basic remedy heat to your muscles – but from inside. Those calories burned turn into an internal heating pad made just for stiff muscle fibers.
6. Massage. Here’s where fit family togetherness comes in. You’ve got a team of in-house masseuses. My kids love to give a neckrub – although not always the most skillfully. While massage can get quite technical, the basics of working the muscles with your hands, finding the knots and steadily working them out can be learned and applied by even your youngsters. And when you need a little more muscle and skill . . . what are spouses for!
Use these remedies and – even if you don’t have a rubber body like your kids – you’ll bounce back that much quicker. Sore muscles begone . . . let family fitness begin!
Please add your two cents – remedies, comments, observations . . . Keep the discussion going!