Muscle pain can be difficult to tolerate. During the day, it is common to feel pain in the soft tissues of your muscles. Many people experience lower back pain, shoulder aches, and pains in other areas that are overused in the workplace. However, at night the pain often worsens, leaving millions of people just like you asking, “How can I stop these muscle aches and pains?”
Here are seven natural remedies for alleviating muscle pain, all backed by science:
It may seem like a waste of time, but stretching every day can make a big difference when it comes to reducing muscle pain. If you are an exercise enthusiast, but you don’t stretch, it could be a mistake.
Studies have shown that stretching is one of the most effective ways to reduce muscle pain.1 One study revealed that participants experienced a reduction in muscle pain after performing a stretching routine of up to 94 percent.2
This sweet and slightly spicy rhizome isn’t just delicious. It’s also a great way to reduce muscle aches and pains. In fact, one study showed that consuming raw and heat-treated ginger was able to significantly reduce muscle pain associated with exercise.3
You can purchase whole, raw ginger at your local grocery store. Cut it into cubes or slices to add it into your favorite meals. Or, you may choose to just add a few chunks into boiling water to make a ginger tea that you can sip at night, to help ease muscle aches and pains.
This rhizome is not as sweet as ginger, but it is known to offer potent, powerful anti-inflammatory effects to muscle and joint tissue. Numerous studies have confirmed turmeric’s ability to help reduce inflammation and its associated aches and pains.4
In one study, participants who consumed turmeric extract as curcumin, reported less inflammation, and muscle pain associated with post workout muscle damage.5
Traditionally used as a holistic medicinal herb in ancient India, you can find turmeric root at any specialty store. It is also available as a supplement.
Studies have shown that drinking caffeine may help to reduce muscle soreness caused by strenuous exercise. Also, known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, this type of muscle pain is common among professional athletes and bodybuilders.
In one study, researchers found that caffeine offered beneficial effects not only on aerobic activity and resistance training, but it also played a role in reducing pain perception associated with post-workout soreness (DOMS).6
Some of the most popular caffeinated beverages include coffee, green tea, black tea, and hot cocoa. Indulge, but don’t overdo it!
5. Tart Cherry Juice
Muscle pain can be caused by a variety of issues, however, when inflammation is the culprit, tart cherry juice may help. In one study, long distance runners were given tart cherry juice for seven days prior to, and during, a strenuous running event. After the run, results showed that participants who consumed the tart cherry juice reported much less muscle pain after their run.7
Researchers attribute the reduction in muscle pain to the powerful antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory abilities of tart cherry juice.
This is the active phytochemical found in chili peppers that gives them their hot, spicy flavor. Also used in many pain relieving muscle rubs, topical capsaicin has been shown in clinical trials to be a safe and effective way to manage muscle pain.
One study revealed that capsaicin patches with a high concentration of capsaicin (8%) was able to offer a promising
transdermal therapy for muscle pain relief.8
7. Foam Rolling
If you are suffering with muscle aches and pains, you may want to relax those sore muscles with a massage. But you can’t always reach the muscles that hurt with your own hands, so why not try a foam roller? This piece of self-massaging equipment is essentially just a long, round piece of foam that you can use at home to ease muscle pain from any cause.
Clinical research has confirmed that after intense exercise, foam rolling was able to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness (DOMS), thus enhancing recovery and muscle performance.9
To use a foam roller for muscle pain, follow these five tips:
1. Calves. Sit on the floor with your legs fully extended out in front of you. Place the foam roller underneath the calf muscles. After you have set the roller firmly in place, gently push your legs forward to roll the foam roller backwards up your legs. This will bring the roller from your calves upward, reducing muscle pain in that area.
2. Hamstrings. Sit in a comfortable position with your legs extended in front of you. Then, cross your legs at the ankle. Position the foam roller under your right leg, bending your knees slightly. Place your hands (palms down) on the floor behind you. With your legs firmly placed together, roll the foam roller upwards, all the way up to your bottom, and then back down to your ankles again. Alternate legs.
3. Quadriceps. Position your body face down on a comfortable surface (a yoga mat works well). Place the foam roller underneath your hip bones, on your quadriceps. Then, lean over towards the right side of your body, to add pressure to your right leg. Roll the foam roller gently down from the hips, all the way to your knee, and then up again. Repeat on the other leg.
4. Back. For back pain, sit on the floor in a comfortable position, placing the foam roller at the arch of your back. Then, place your hands palms down on the floor behind you. To move the foam roller up your back, tighten your abdominal muscles, and slightly bend your knees. This will help to roll the massager up your back. Stop before you hit the bones of your shoulder blades to avoid any injury.
5. Gluteus Maximus. Ease your assets with this foam roller routine. Place the foam roller on the ground and then sit on it, positioning your glutes right on the top of the roller. Place your hands palm down behind you. Cross your right leg over the left leg. Then, lean back to allow more weight to rest on your hands for support. Gently push your body forward, and move your glutes over the foam roller. Repeat on the other side.
Muscle soreness is very common, however, if you are suffering with muscle aches and pains that last through the night more than a few days out of the week, you might want to try these seven natural remedies for alleviating muscle pain. Additionally, if the pain persists, check with your doctor to find out if there is a more effective remedy for your pain.
2. Lewit K, Simons DG. Myofascial pain: relief by post-isometric relaxation. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. Aug 1984;65(8):452–456.
3. Black CD, Herring MP. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. J Pain. 2010 Sep;11(9):894-903.
4. Davis JM, Murphy EA. Curcumin effects on inflammation and performance recovery following eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Jun;292(6).
5. Nicol LM, Rowlands DS. Curcumin supplementation likely attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Aug;115(8):1769-77.
6. Hurley CF, Hatfield DL. The effect of caffeine ingestion on delayed onset muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Nov;27(11):3101-9.
7. Kerry S Kuehl, Erica T Perrier. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports. Nutrition 20107:17.
8. P. Anand, K. Bley. Topical capsaicin for pain management: therapeutic potential and mechanisms of action of the new high-concentration capsaicin 8% patch. Br J Anaesth. 2011 Oct; 107(4): 490–502. 2011 Aug 17.
9. Gregory E. P. Pearcey, MSc, David J. Bradbury-Squires, MS.
Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measures. J Athl Train. 2015 Jan; 50(1): 5–13.