There are more than 600 muscles in your body. With this many present, it’s easy to see why pain can strike any of them. You may have been doing something that caused a painfully strained muscle or tendon, which is regularly felt in your lower back or in the back of the upper leg area. You may have started to workout recently and therefore have delayed onset muscle soreness. Perhaps you have been awakened from sound sleep (not challenging your muscles in any way) by a piercing calf cramp. It doesn’t matter where the pain is or why you get it, your immediate thought may be “why is this happening”? The positive thing is you CAN control the muscle that’s hurting, get the muscle pain relief you need, and even prevent the pain from happening in the future.
Muscle Pain Relief – Stop Whatever You’re Doing
According to some medical professionals, it’s better to stop the activity you’re doing when you experience muscle pain. Fairly obvious really, but there may be times you need to do the activity again to get the relief you need faster. Those people working toward a big goal like a marathon, or inexperienced athletes who can’t see anything except their next event, may find it hard to give themselves a break. But if there is a bad muscle pain, then it’s time to stop pushing yourself.
A simple cramp may only need minutes of rest, but a severe strain could require several days or weeks.
RICE Can help With Muscle Pain Relief
Rice? Yes, this one meaning rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
If you’re resting already, then that’s great! Don’t do any other athletic activity or put weight on the affected area if the pain is really bad. The other steps will help to reduce swelling and inflammation in and around the injury.
To “ice” an injured muscle, you can put a bag of ices cubes inside a cloth and put it onto the affected spot. Don’t do this for more than 20 minutes at a time. An alternative is to place a bag of frozen vegetables (like peas) onto the affected muscle area.
Compression is achieved by wrapping the injury snugly with an elastic bandage. The bandage should not be too tight or it may cause the area to darken in colour wither side of the bandage or “tingle”. Remove the bandage after no more than 4 hours.
Elevation – Lie down and lift your arm or leg above the level of your heart. This will help to reduce swelling. It may be easier to place your arm or leg on a pillow to do this for longer periods.
Warming Up The Muscle Helps
You can start to stretch the sore muscle and warming it up about 48 hours after the injury, preferably at the same time. This helps to avoid “contractures,” which is muscle tightness that won’t loosen back up. It’s important to keep the injured muscle moving, even though the natural tendency is not to because it hurts.
A good way to achieve this is to get into a hot shower and slowly start circling the part that hurts. Only go to the point where the pain starts, and don’t push further. Other good ways to heat up the muscle is getting into hot tubs, whirlpools and using heat wraps.
Arnica Is Said To Be Good For Muscle Pain Relief
There are some old-fashioned home remedies for sore muscles that contain arnica. Arnica is a yellow-orange flower found in Europe and North America. You can get hold of lotions that contain arnica at some health food stores and maybe some supermarkets.
If you decide to try this remedy, you need to test on a small area of skin before applying it liberally. Note: This is important in case of allergic reaction to a chemical in the flower, as experienced by some people.
To Prevent Muscle Pain, Stretch
Over the past few years it has become the way of personal trainers to encourage a “warm up” and a “warm down” before and after exercise. Using a series of stretching and exercises to help you sweat a little helps to warm up the muscle and stretch it so it’s more pliable when doing the more vigorous exercise.
After the main exercise session is completed. It’s important to stretch again to help recovery and keep the muscle “lengthened” after activity. This helps the muscles to recover when they are most vulnerable and fatigued. You will also feel good later on too.
Caffeine Helps Prevent Muscle Pain
There was a study that concluded that women who had the equivalent of the caffeine content in 2 1/2 cups of coffee an hour prior to a 30-minute bike ride had around half the leg muscle pain as riders who didn’t have caffeine. The person in charge of this research determined that caffeine may block an inflammatory chemical from attaching to areas in your brain or muscles associated with pain. Just one cup of coffee taken before exercise may help.
Drink Cherry Juice
Cherry juice contains natural anti-inflammatory chemicals that can reduce pain and swelling, so is beneficial even though it’s not considered a sports drink. The participants in a study based on drinking cherry juice found that drinking 16 ounces daily for 3 days before strenuous workouts felt less muscle soreness two days later.
You Have Limitations – Accept Them
As we get older the muscles change. They are not as supple in a 40 year old as they are in a 20 year old for example. The muscle when you’re younger will “spring” back into place, but as you get older it gets stiffer and there is more likelihood of injury.
Think of a sportsman who suffers from more hamstring injuries as they get older. They are more prone as they get older and have to stretch more and take a lot more care. The older the muscle, the easier it can “snap” if it’s overstretched too quickly. It’s important to stay active as you get older, but make sure your pace and activities change to as your body’s limits evolve.
In Cold Weather – Wear Warm Clothing
When exercising in cold weather, you may feel yourself getting stiff and sore, stay warm by wearing more clothes. This may help to stop any muscle problems right there. You can wear running tights under your normal clothing to keep the heat in. These will not only keep you warm, but help support the muscles by compression from the tights.
Every Now and Then – Change Positions
You may be sat next to a desk bent over a keyboard typing, bent over when pedalling bicycle. Either way, your wrists and forearms can be vulnerable to cramping and soreness. There’s one important difference between cyclists and a typist; when cyclists buy a bike, an expert salesperson should help them select the bike that is most suitable for them. On the other hand, office workers, who have digits that tend to be of different sizes, tend to use the same office equipment. With the great range of ergonomic accessories now available for the every day “desk jockey”, it only takes a little research and testing to find a solution to help you be in the most suitable and comfortable, ergonomically correct position.
It’s important when typing for example to be sure the hands and wrists are in a “neutral” position. If a person has long hands and fingers, the strain on the wrist can be reduced by adjusting the keyboard to a more horizontal position (flat with the work surface), which is good if your arms or shoulders aren’t put into a strained position. For people with short hands and fingers, a higher incline on the keyboard makes the keys easier to reach.
Repeat The Activity That Gave you the Muscle Pain
This sounds crazy because your instinct would be to avoid the activity, but it does help. Doing the activity the next day if possible, but with less intensity will help. It does help to work out some soreness.
Moderate exercise releases endorphins and these act as natural pain killers. The movement during the activity will also stimulate blood flow to the muscle areas, which can help to clear away the inflammatory substances that contribute to the pain.
Turmeric, Curcumin and Herbal Solutions
Turmeric is a spice used commonly in Indian food dishes, but it also contains curcumin. Curcumin has an anti-inflammatory effect that seems to work like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. If you’re interested in this method, be sure to look for curcumin supplements that contain 95% curcumin; the typical effective dose is 400 mg, three times a day.
Rolling Out the Pain
There is evidence that foam rollers, that are firm foam tubes used to massage muscles by resting one’s body weight on them.
If you were to have sore thighs for example, you need to lie on your left side with the roller under your left thigh. You would extend your left leg, cross your right leg over it resting your weight on your left forearm and right foot. Lift yourself up slightly with your right foot then work your left thigh across the roller for 2 minutes but stop briefly at sore points. Repeat the action for your right side, using your left leg to lift you up.
If you’re used to certain exercise, e.g. walking and you are experiencing soreness in your lower leg muscles, go swimming, or cycling where you use the upper leg muscles more so you can continue your exercise while you heal.
You may have a problem with chronic muscle pain, which may be caused by being overweight. The extra weight the muscles have to endure may be partly the cause of your pain. Change your diet and maybe add a little different exercise to help you lose weight and hopefully deal with the problem.
Be Realistic With Your Exercise Regime
Running is one of the most common causes for muscle pain. The constant “impact” can help to cause injury, and if running always makes you hurt, find another exercise. Cycling is great for exercise and yet it doesn’t cause the impact that running does. You should be able to cycle until later life and keep up a good exercise and fitness regime without causing injury through constant impact that is evident from running.
Change Your Shoes
Badly fitting or incorrect types of shoe can help to bring on foot, leg or even back pain. To avoid experiencing this while exercising, or after, be sure you get the correct footwear to help you prevent any pain.
Correct shoes are essential to keep your feet healthy. If it also stops the other potential pain problems, it’s a bonus.
You Need to Move Around
If your work means you sit for long periods, you need to get up a move around at least once an hour. This will help to keep your blood circulating properly and stop your muscles from tightening up.
Loosen Your Clothing
It’s a good idea to loosen or remove some clothing if you start to feel a cramp or other muscle pain coming on. If your clothing is tight, or you are wearing tights that generally support, loosen or remove to give those muscles a little more room to move.
Dehydration is a big contributor to getting cramp, so be sure to stay hydrated. Drinking is essential before, during and after exercise for good reason.
Stretch To Strengthen
Muscles cannot be seen and we tend to forget about them unless they give us problems. It’s usually too late then, so don’t let them give you these problems.
It’s a good idea to at least do some stretching exercises daily to keep them from troubling you. An ignored muscle sometimes screams at you by cramping up. You can ease this and relieve the pain by quietly stretching them until they settle down again. The daily stretching exercises could help to prevent cramps and strains from happening at all.
Here are a some suggestions from doctors, athletic trainers and physical therapists to help you keep clear of muscle pain.
Toe the towel. To stretch and strengthen ankle muscles, sit on the floor and loop a towel around the ball of your foot while holding the ends of the towel in each hand. Alternately point your toes up and down while pulling the ends of the towel toward you and keeping your legs straight. Repeat several times with both feet. Toe the towel again. This time don’t move your toes. Lean back with the towel looped around your foot until you feel the stretch in the calf muscle. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat several times.
Use the steps. To stretch your calves, stand on the bottom step of a staircase and hold the railing for balance. Move one foot back so that the ball of the foot is at the edge of the step and your heel hangs off the back. Then, with both knees slightly bent, drop your heel below the step and feel a stretch in the back of your lower leg. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Get into bed. Actually, sit with one leg stretched out on the bed and hang the other leg over the side. Then lean forward until you feel the stretch in your hamstring (the back of the thigh) and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat several times, then switch positions and stretch the other hamstring.
Stand on one leg. To stretch your quadriceps (the front of the thigh) muscles, stand on one leg and hold your opposite foot so that the ankle is touching your buttocks and your knee points toward the floor. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat five times with each leg.
Reach back. For a good shoulder stretch, place one arm, with elbow bent, behind your head, and using the opposite hand, gently pull your elbow behind your head.
Reach around. Another good shoulder stretch is to hold one arm, with elbow bent, across your midriff and use the opposite hand to gently pull the arm across the front of your body.
Stretch your wrists. Make a fist, then span or spread your fingers as far as possible. Relax. Repeat three or four times.
Stretch your forearms. Hold your arms straight out in front of your body with your palms facing down. Bend your hands up, so that your palms face away from you. Hold that stretch for 5 seconds. Then bend your hands down, so that your palms are facing toward you. Hold that stretch for 5 seconds. Repeat three or four times.
Banish Night-time Leg Cramps
Few things hurt worse than a “charley horse” – the searing pain of a calf muscle cramp that can wake you from the dead of sleep. What happened? Basically, your calf muscle got stuck. Leg muscles contract when you turn or stretch during sleep. When a muscle stays contracted, a sudden cramp can result. Here’s how to stop night cramps and, hopefully, head off a recurrence later in the night.
Lean into the wall. Stand 3 to 5 feet away from a wall, keeping your heels flat and your legs straight. Lean into the wall in front of you as you support yourself with your hands. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat several times.
Massage the cramp. Massage the calf by rubbing upward from the ankle. If night cramps are a constant problem, you may want to do this before you go to bed.
Loosen the covers. The pressure of heavy blankets on your legs could be partly to blame.
Wear loose, flowing roomy PJs. Snug-fitting pyjamas will only exacerbate night-time leg cramps if you’re prone to them.
Use an electric blanket. The electric blanket on your bed can do more than keep you warm all over on cold winter nights; it can also keep your calf muscles warm and pain-free.
Sleep on your side. Sleeping on your stomach with your legs straight out and your calves flexed invites cramping, says Donkin. “Try sleeping on your side with your knees bent upward and a pillow between them.”
Consider more calcium. “A calcium deficiency can make the muscles trigger-happy; the contractions in the muscles are stronger,” Donkin says. The Daily Value for calcium is 1,000 milligrams a day (1,200 if you’re older than age 50).
Should I Call A Doctor?
The majority of the time, pain from a sudden muscle cramp, strain, or even extreme soreness is a lot worse than the injury itself. This is not the case in 100% of cases. Cramping can be caused by a nerve injury. In rare cases, it could be caused by the inflammation of a vein (phlebitis) Phlebitis can be serious if a deep vein is causing the problem, but, when located in the more superficial vein, it’s not usually serious. If you experience muscle problems that seem abnormal and linger could be more serious. If in any doubt, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor.
Content drawn from 37 Tips To Relieve Muscle Pain found on Prevention.com