It’s inevitable that you’ll experience sore muscles from time to time, especially if you challenge your body with new moves or a hard core workout.
Pushing yourself whilst exercising can cause microscopic tears in muscles, this coupled with inflammation leads to pain. Minor aches and pains are perfectly normal and are an indication that your muscles are being challenged as you get fitter and stronger.
These aches and pains, though sometimes unavoidable, can be soothed and here’s how…
I used to think that bath salts were a bunch of nonsense, but from the first time I used them I was sold. My skin felt soft and hydrated and my muscles felt rejuvenated, in fact my whole mind and body felt relaxed.
The theory is that as you soak in the tub the magnesium rich salts are absorbed through your skin, relieving pain and cramps. Furthermore, the warmth of the bath eases pain and encourages tight muscles to relax.
My favourite salts are Dr Salts 100% Dead Sea Muscle Therapy with Eucalyptus (I also like the one with Rose), Westlab Epsom Salts Reviving and Westlab Super Salt Epsom Muscle Relief. I also like these fun little bath tea bags my mum got me for Easter, especially the rose one, bath bliss.
Balms and Ointments
I don’t use balm and ointments that often so I haven’t tried that many out. I got a mini pot of natural muscle rub in my Christmas stocking and I have to say it does help when I’ve pulled a muscle. It tingles a little and provides gentle heat to the affected area, which seems to reduce the tightness of the muscle.
Massaging a really sore or torn muscle hurts, a lot. I recently did a leg workout outside and I don’t whether it was the new moves or the uneven ground, but for days afterwards the back of my legs ached. Honestly, I had to go up/down stairs with straight legs and rise from sitting with a grimace. I winced when massaging arnica oil into them but the brief pain helped with my muscle recovery.
Massaging reduces inflammation, muscle tightness and aids blood flow, meaning muscles repair and recover quicker. I personally like arnica oil which brings warmth and relief to stiff or painful muscles, it’s also great for sprains and bruises.
Whilst you sleep your body doesn’t need to use up much energy, therefore it is able to utilise all the food you have consumed in the day for protein synthesis (building muscle). Sleep deprivation prevents your body from making muscle and can increase your risk of injury.
Sleep is also the time when growth hormone is released, encouraging muscle recovery and regeneration.
In addition, the amount of sleep you get effects the food choices you make. A tired individual is more likely to opt for comforting, sugary, starchy foods compared to a well rested individual.
I am usually on my computer until late and struggle to get into bed before 11:30pm. Once I’m actually snuggled under my duvet, my mind is too preoccupied to sleep. So, I have made it a rule to turn all electronic devices off after 9:30pm, give myself time to relax and breathe deeply to clear my head, spend some time with my family, read and then smother my pillow in lavender.
It may seem that the best thing to do for sore achy muscles is to leave them alone and let them heal on their own, whilst you rest. However, doing nothing can add to recovery time and potentially leave you in more pain.
The cycle of a pulled muscle goes soreness -> muscle spasm -> contraction -> tightness. Stretching breaks this cycle. Plus, by stretching you’re potentially preventing future strains.
Take it Easy
Know when to give yourself break; you don’t want to make things worse. Listen to your body and respect what it needs. It might be worth taking your workouts a little easy whilst your muscles heal. Choose something low impact like walking, swimming, cycling, strength training, yoga, pilates etc.
I hope you find these to be achecellent remedies for your sore muscles. x
NOTE: aches and pains should be minor to mild, if you are experiencing major or prolonged pain seek medical help.