We’ve all been there. We know what those sore, achy muscles feel like. Maybe you spent too long outside shoveling snow, working out too hard at the gym, or walking the length of the mall one too many times. Now you’re left feeling sore and even though you know the soreness will subside in a few days, right now you need some relief. Am I right? Yeah, it can be easy to overdo it sometimes. I’ve got some quick tips for soothing sore muscles plus a homemade achy muscle rub recipe to help ease the pain.
First up, prevention. Try to remember to stretch before any kind of strenuous physical activity. And yes, you should stretch and warm up before shoveling those walks! Stretching before and after will help prevent those pesky sore, achy muscles, but will also prevent injury. The soreness after exertion comes from the build-up of lactic acid in muscles. It takes a little while for your body to carry that lactic acid away. Cooling down and allowing blood to keep pumping will definitely help prevent excessive soreness.
2. Drink cherry juice
But in case you forgot to stretch or cool down or it’s been awhile since you’ve worked out like that, try easing the pain naturally by drinking a glass of tart cherry juice. Researchers seem to think that the anthrocyanins and nutrients found in cherry juice work to fight inflammation and help repair muscles.
You might want to head straight for a hot shower, but studies show that icing sore muscles speeds healing. You can also try alternating hot water with 30 second bursts of cold water. The hot water dilates blood vessels which brings blood to the muscles and also takes the waste products (i.e. the lactic acid) away.
4. Massage with lavender
Lavender-infused massage oil can also help with muscle soreness. Lavender has long been used for numerous maladies and its calming effects, but did you know it’s also great for easing pain? Massage itself can help with muscle pain because the manipulation of muscles helps warm them up and aids in the release of lactic acid build-up (source). Using lavender is a one-two punch on muscle pain. A healing balm can also help.
5. Take an Epsom salt bath
Epsom salts and a hot bath are one of the best ways to relieve muscle cramping and soreness. At a cellular level, magnesium works with calcium as muscles relax and contract. Painful muscle spasms and cramping can be relieved with magnesium. The magnesium is readily absorbed through skin as you soak in the bath. It can also be taken orally.
6. Make a cayenne and ginger muscle rub
Capsaicin is a compound found in hot peppers is a natural pain reliever. When topically applied to the skin, the capsaicin tricks your brain into thinking it’s been exposed to extreme heat, which results in a release of neurotransmitters that eventually block the pain (source). This DIY achy muscle rub contains cayenne pepper and ginger. The ginger contains other compounds that have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving benefits.
The coconut and almond oils work as carrier oils to prevent irritation. The shea butter adds extra moisturizing and helps with absorption, as do the carrier oils. The beeswax is there mainly for texture but also has healing benefits. Each of the essential oils provides healing and anti-inflammatory relief.
The peppermint helps cool. Clove works to naturally provide a slight numbing sensation to soothe sore muscles. Camphor is a common ingredient in over-the-counter topical preparations. Camphor helps boost circulation, temporarily desensitize nerves, and provide a cooling, calming sensation (source). The peppermint oil has similar benefits to camphor. Eucalyptus oil has analgesic properties and can help with pain when massaged into the skin as with this rub.
- 2 ounces coconut oil
- 1 ounce almond or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne
- ½ ounce beeswax (white or yellow), chopped
- 2 ounces shea butter
- 5-10 drops each: eucalyptus, peppermint, camphor, and clove essential oils
- Equipment needed: glass measuring cup, saucepan, fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, 8 ounce glass jar with lid
- Gently heat coconut and olive oils in a glass measuring cup or jar in the microwave or place it in a small pan or simmering water.
- Add the ground ginger and cayenne. Let stand for 30-60 minutes in a warm place.
- Place the the beeswax into a measuring cup and set into a pan of simmering water. Allow to melt. Be careful as the wax will be very, very hot after it melts. Add the shea butter and stir until melted. Keep warm.
- Strain the cayenne and ginger infused oil through cheesecloth set over a mesh strainer into the measuring cup with the beeswax and shea butter. (Warm the oil again if it's too thick to strain.)
- Stir well. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before adding the essential oils. Stir gently until combined.
- Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Let cool completely before using. To use remove a small amount from the jar and place in palms to melt the balm. Rub onto sore area in a circular motion. The skin will become red and feel warm to the touch. (See notes below.)
- Will keep for several months. Use as often as needed.
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