How To Relieve Muscle Ache
From our Move with Ease Series, take care of your muscles!
Our society has become increasingly sedentary in recent years as computers, video games, televisions and other forms of stationary entertainment have become more popular. Instead of staying active through ordinary activities, people are making a point of working out, exercising in gyms, and doing other scheduled fitness regimens, and while this is a step in the right direction, it also means that those who do this are prone to muscle soreness and fatigue. Muscles are overworked in the short-term, which causes aches and pains, and then people avoid exercising again, thinking that the pain is inevitable. In reality, this is far from the truth, and while it is best to avoid it altogether, there are a variety of resources that explain how to relieve muscle ache due to overexertion, or other causes.
One of the best methods to relieve muscle ache (*not to be confused with an inflamed muscle or injured muscle) is with heat. Many people can attest to the benefits of a warm bath when one is tired, stressed or aching, but the warm water doesn’t just ease stress; it also increases blood circulation, which helps sore muscles recover. Adding Epsom salt to warm bath water can also help to draw toxins out of the muscles, and is well-known to relieve muscle ache.
Another common method for reducing aches and pain is to alternate 20 minutes of cold and 20 minutes of heat on sore muscles; the heat makes the blood vessels expand, while the cold forces them to contract, and this flushes any toxins out of the area. The cold also helps to reduce any inflammation in the area. The 20 minutes on/off is for protection of the skin, tissue fibers, and nerves from being over exposed to the heat and cold which may cause more pain and injury if not monitored.
As many athletes are aware, stretching before working one’s muscles is important, but gentle stretching techniques can also help relieve muscle ache. Experts usually advise to do active or dynamic stretching before your workout then doing static stretching afterwards. Active stretching is moving through each stretch comfortably, generally mimicking the type of activity about to be performed. Static stretching is to hold the stretch for 30 seconds or longer to let the tissue fibers called Golgi Tendons to be able to relax. It’s crucial not to bounce in the stretch; hold it steady, and if it hurts, stop. This helps to gently relax the muscles, and also increases circulation which speeds the healing process and flushes toxins out of the muscle tissue.
Another technique which frequently helps to reduce muscle ache is massage. Depending on the reason for the muscle ache, massage can help by relaxing the muscle tissue and increasing circulation to the area. Massage can also be combined with topical analgesics, which help to reduce pain in shallow sub-dermal areas, or essential oils which, while they sometimes help to relieve ache, often help more by encouraging relaxation.
Rather than ending up at the doctor, or spending hours searching “how to relieve muscle ache” on Google, your best bet will always be to avoid straining or overexertion in the first place. Stretch and warm up before exercising, stop if you feel pain or cramping, and only increase workouts in small increments to avoid putting too much strain on your muscles. Just remember, a little muscle soreness from a workout is healthy- it means you used your muscles!
*For an inflamed or injured muscle ice first in 20 minute intervals then seek a doctor’s advice.
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