Even the healthiest of us get muscle pain.
The good news is that you don’t ever have to live with pain. Smart strategies that combine safe ache easers and proven at-home care steps- from ice to heat to gentle exercise, or even getting a new wallet or purse – can cut the pain you’re feeling now and lower the odds that it’ll ever show up again.
So, what can we do about it? Here are some ideas for you to ease your muscle pain today.
Take a walk – and swing your arms
Experts have a name for the general hurt you feel the day after you overexert yourself: delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS. It turns out that if you were a little overzealous playing, working, exercising, or even gardening, the best remedy the day after is to get moving again. Staying active works the painful chemical by-products of overexertion out of your muscle tissue and keeps muscle fibers flexible so they can’t tighten up and stay sore longer. Light exercise helps sore muscles heal so you’ll have less pain next time.
Ice down painful strains and sprains
Keep a cold pack, a 1-pound package of frozen corn or peas, or several paper cups filled with a few inches of water in the freezer. It it’s been less than 48 hours since your injury rub the ice in a cup over the sore muscle or ice it down by wrapping the frozen veggies or cold pack in a clean kitchen towel and placing it over the area. Cold compresses reduce swelling and inflammation and relieve pain. Apply for 10 minutes, remove for 10 minutes, then apply for another 10; this strategy helps protect skin from being damaged by the ice. But skip the process if you have blood-flow issues, diabetes, or Raynaud’s syndrome or if you are highly sensitive to cold.
Stretch and prop
IF all you have is mild soreness, we’ve already told you that movement and light exercise are the right remedies. But more severe pain is your body’s signal to stop moving around or putting weight on an injured muscle. If you sense that your soreness crosses that line, stay off your feet or avoid using an injured arm for the first day or so. If you’ve injured a muscle in a hip or leg, keep it raised above groin level with pillows or folded blankets. This helps your body reabsorb fluid sent into the area and reduces swelling. Make sure an injured arm is supported, not hanging down, for the same reason.
After two to three days, add homemade heat
Warmth relaxes right, sore muscles and relieves pain. Fill an old knee sock of long tube sock three-quarters full of raw white rice, tie off the open end tightly with a rubber band, and microwave it for 2 minutes. Lay it over a sore spot or use it to gently massage a healing muscle that feels tight. This do-it-yourself hot pack is reusable and works for muscle cramps as well. Add cinnamon sticks and cloves or dried lavender buds for a spicy scent.
Stash stick-on heating pads in your medicine cabinet and glove compartment
Single-use heat wraps and patches that adhere to your skin or clothes at a sore spot are great for fast relief – and they come in shapes and sizes that fit particular high-ache areas perfectly. Inside are chemicals that warm up when the package is opened and they’re exposed to air. The low-level heat is safe to use for up to eight hours, sometimes longer.
Or soak it
Sink into a warm tub, Jacuzzi, or whirlpool and add 15 drops of relaxing lavender essential oil or muscle warming ginger essential oil to the water along with a half cup of Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts. This is great for muscle cramps also.
Treat yourself to a rub down
Try this on a warm muscle a few days after an injury. Rub the length of the muscle, moving from the pint farthest from your heart toward the point closest to your heart. Research shows that post exercise and post injury massage can reduce pain and speed healing. It can reduce inflammation too.
Listen to your body
Never push through pain or fatigue. The truth is, tired, stressed muscles are injury prone. Pay attention when your arms or legs feel fatigued or your back feels tight. These are signs that it is time to rest and relax. Pushing too hard could lead to cramps and pulled muscles.
Check back on Friday when I give some tips to ease Back Pain. Now that should be a good one!
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