08 July, 2011
Natural Treatment for Sore Muscles
A few muscle aches and pains are common at any age, especially when you ask your muscles to do extra work such as strenuous exercise. The key to staying in motion is to relieve the muscle pain. Try a natural treatment for your sore muscles before you give up and give in to muscle soreness. Although few have scientific support, the best natural remedies have historical and anecdotal evidence that supports their use. Check with a physician to rule out conditions that are more serious before you self-treat sore muscles.
Heat applied directly to sore muscles is soothing and helps you and the muscle to relax. Though best applied immediately after you strain your muscles, heat also helps hours later. Soaking in a warm bath often eases muscle soreness. Epsom salt is a common bath addition that helps sore muscles to relax.
Set a heating pad on low to avoid burning your skin and apply it to the affected area for up to hour at a time. If you do not have a heating pad, pour a cup of plain white rice into an old cotton sock. Close the sock with a shoestring or ribbon. Microwave for one minute, and then place the rice pad on the sore muscle. Leave it in place until the rice cools.
Native Americans used the bark of the willow tree to make what modern drugstores sell as witch hazel. The original tincture and the modern version both appear relieve muscle soreness temporarily. Pour witch hazel into the palm of one hand and apply it to your sore muscles. Massage it in to help it penetrate your skin. Do not apply witch hazel to broken skin.
People throughout the world have applied topical creams to sore muscles for centuries, with little scientific evidence of their effectiveness. Many of these creams have overpowering aromas and potentially skin-irritating ingredients. If you prefer to use a cream, try arnica gel, a natural product that manufacturers extract from Arnica montana flowers. Little scientific evidence supports its use for relieving muscle pain, but the University of Maryland notes that arnica ointments appear to relieve bursitis pain temporarily.
Preventing sore muscles is easier than repairing them or recovering from overextending them to the point of soreness. Delayed onset muscle soreness is common after muscle exertion or trying new exercises that use muscles that have not been properly conditioned. Increase your exercise intensity slowly to give your muscles time to adapt to new functions. Use the lightest weights available and perform strength training sessions every other day for only a few minutes at a time until your muscles learn the movements.
Decrease the intensity and frequency of aerobic routines, running and other exercises that require repeated muscle contraction and extension. Build up to daily muscle use over a period of three weeks to a month.
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