If you were involved in a minor car crash, or over-did your workout at the gym, you're probably suffering from sore muscles. If you are trying to avoid taking opioids for the pain, and your doctor says it's okay, you might try some alternative remedies to help bring relief. Take a look at some of these options, many of which can be attempted at home.
Remedies Straight From The Garden Or Pantry
Herbal remedies, where parts of plants are used medicinally to treat health problems, are used to bring natural relief from pain. As with any medicinal treatment, use caution and seek advice from your doctor.
Long known to lessen nausea, ginger has been found to reduce pain and stiffness. It contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-ulcer and analgesic properties. Fresh ginger rhizomes can be purchased at most markets; all you need to do is peel and grate. Add a few tablespoons to stir fry and salads. To make tea, grate a few teaspoons into a simmering pot of hot water for 5 minutes. You can also buy ginger capsules, which contain higher concentrations of ginger.
In the same family as ginger, turmeric is thought to be among the most effective anti-inflammatory and painkilling compounds. Finding ways to include turmeric in your diet is easy, as most Indian foods are flavored with this powdered spice. However, you can also take capsules of turmeric as well. This rhizome is known to treat arthritis, help prevent Alzheimer's disease, and reduce blood sugar.
The feverfew plant may seem delicate with its tiny yellow and white flowers, but this plant is used to relieve pain and inflammation of sore muscles, arthritis, and even migraine headaches. Injury, irritation, or infection causes inflammation. Feverfew reduces your body's production of substances that initiate and extend that inflammation. You can take capsules of feverfew, or make a tea by steeping 8 fresh leaves into boiling water.
Enlist the help of a partner to give you a massage, which helps stimulate blood circulation to sore muscles to hasten healing. But don't stop at a regular massage; add some essential oils or a pepper rub. The best oils for muscle spasms are basil, marjoram, and Roman Chamomile. For cramping, use lemongrass with marjoram and peppermint. Add a few drops of the oil into one tablespoon of olive oil to create your essential oil rub.
Capsaicin from hot peppers can also be used to rub onto sore muscles. You can buy a cream over the counter, or make your own by mixing ¼ to ½ teaspoon with one cup of warm coconut or olive oil. Or, try mixing it with aloe vera gel. Keep this rub away from your face to avoid irritation of the eyes, mouth, and nose.
Chinese medicine refers to acupuncture and the flow of energy, or Qi, and its balance and rhythm. Western medicine speaks of knots in muscles and trigger points needing to be released. Either way, acupuncture uses hair-thin needles inserted into your skin at different areas of the body to ease chronic or minor pain by affecting neurotransmitters, the immune system, or hormone levels.
Treatments are usually weekly, and if done by an experienced professional, are virtually painless. You usually do not need to undress, and needles are never reused.
Cold, Heat, and Rest
In addition to these alternative remedies, there's always good old-fashioned cold and heat, and plenty of rest. Use cold therapy first, and heat therapy later. An ice pack reduces blood flow to the area, reducing swelling and slowing down pain messages to the brain.
Heat therapy helps muscles relax, promotes blood flow to the sore area, and is psychologically reassuring. Heat packs, wraps, or even a hot bath all work.
Make sure that you talk to your family doctor before deciding on treatment.