5 Ways to Ease Muscle Aches & Pain Without Pills
Pain can take you out of the game, and cause you to miss out on activities you love outdoors like summer hikes, swimming, running, skating, and anything else … And we’ve all been there – believe me! You go too hard on a line that you’ve waited all year dreaming about, and waiting to attempt and them BAM! You take a spill, twist something in a weird way, or pull a tendon or ligament just because you can’t slow down. Well … maybe we haven’t ALL been there. But if you’re anything like me, when the summer temperatures hit, you hit your favorite outdoor trails, lakes, and roaring rivers. Hard.
When it’s all said and done what you really want to do is just head out the next day, and do it again. But then there’s the nagging muscle aches and pains and other damaged soft tissues like skin, ligaments and sometimes even your bones can take a beating out there in the wild.
Editors Note: This is the first part of our series on managing pain for athletes.
Here are 5 ways to ease aches and pains without having to turn to pharmaceutical drugs (at all!):
1. Essential Oils. These are also known as volatile oils as they contain all of vital phytochemicals derived from real plants responsible for easing common aches, and pains of nerves, muscles, and ligaments.(1) Use them both topically and in aroma therapy to reduce pain caused by injuries, overexertion, or just common wear and tear. The best essential oils for pain relief include: peppermint, thyme, basil, clove, spruce, helichrysum, Roman chamomile, Palo Santo, marjoram, black pepper, arnica and lavender. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many other essential oils can be used for pain relief. You can order Wyoming grown Arnica from Wind River Herbs.
2. Turmeric. You can find this root herb growing in many gardens. Used for centuries for it’s ability to reduce inflammation in the body, it also makes a great natural pain reliever!(2) You can add turmeric into foods by purchasing the whole root and including it in your favorite recipes. Or alternatively you can sprinkle turmeric powder into smoothies, and blend it into dips and spreads or extra spicy flavor, and anti-inflammatory pain relief. If you really need a BIG dose of natural relief, pick up a standardized turmeric supplement capsule at your local health food store.
3. Yoga. If you have never taken a yoga class – you’re not alone! It can be very intimidating for first-timers to step foot inside a traditional yoga studies. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take full advantage of the many, many benefits of practicing yoga stretches for just 15 minutes a day.
Studies show that even if you’re not working with a guru, trying a few yoga postures at home (asanas) can results in a slew of health benefits that enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.(3)
4. Cayenne Pepper. When you want to heat things up in the kitchen, you may reach for spicy peppers. And if you want to heat up tense, and aching muscles … you can reach for the same thing! Most hot peppers contain one active phytochemical known as capsaicin that gives them their spicy flavor. When applied directly to aching muscles, and tendons ground cayenne pepper (a potent source of capsaicin) soothes aches and pains by adding that extra touch of heat.
To make a warming natural pain relieving body rub for aching muscles, just add 1 heaping tablespoon of ground cayenne pepper into an unscented body lotion, and rub it into the affected area to relax the pain away. If you desire, add more cayenne, for more heat.
5. Sea Salt (magnesium sulfate). Even when you do NOT have any injuries, simply getting out and jamming down your favorite trail, or raging river can leave your muscle aching just because you were banging so hard doing the things you love outside. And that’s ok! But to ease the pain of the tiny micro-tears that occur when you use your muscles, and stretch out your tendons to the MAX … Epsom salts may help.
These salts are not like the kind you’d find on your dinner table, because they contain all of the essential minerals naturally provided by salt including magnesium sulfate. And it’s those minerals that help send signals from one nerve cell inside your muscles to another. Without them, muscle aches can quickly worsen. So, try a pain relieving bath soak with ½ cup of Epsom salts to ease tired, aching muscles, and you’ll be back on track in no time!
Pro Tip: Avoid Epsom salts with added smells like Lavender, Eucalyptus and such. It can easily overpower your bath.
Overdoses of over the counter (OTC) pharmaceutical drugs are now the leading cause of death for people in the United States under the age of 50 years old. And according to a recent report from The New York Times, that’s a number that’s up about 19% since last year.
And did you also known that overdose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) has surpassed viral hepatitis as the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States? It’s true! So, trade your OTC pain medications in for something natural, like these 5 natural pain relievers!
1. Ou MC, Lee YF. The effectiveness of essential oils for patients with neck pain: a randomized controlled study. J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Oct;20(10):771-9.
2. Subash C. Gupta, Sridevi Patchva. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. AAPS J. 2013 Jan; 15(1): 195–218.
3. Catherine Woodyard. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul-Dec; 4(2): 49–54.