Family doctors report that one of the most common complaints they get from patients is that they are suffering from a sore neck or back. We’ve all experienced muscle pain and muscle spasms at some point, whether it was after a run or yard work, while recovering from an injury, or simply due to age. Excessive sitting or poor posture could also result in sore muscles, but whatever the reason may be, the pain is never fun.
While there are many over-the-counter medications that can be prescribed to help with muscle pain, the desire for more natural remedies has become increasingly more popular over the years. Now more than ever, people want relief, but not at the risk of potentially harmful or undesired side effects.
Here are some of the best natural ways to relax your muscles:
Chamomile is an ancient herb that has been used to improve health a number of ways - including treatment of muscle spasms. Chamomile isn’t just a comforting tea, it also contains antioxidants that provide additional benefits. It also has 36 flavonoids, which have powerful muscle relaxing capabilities. Pro tip: Try chamomile tea to ease your stressed muscles. Add lemon or honey for added flavor.
CBD oil, which is derived from the cannabis sativa plant, has many benefits, with more continually being discovered. One of the most well-known is that CBD oil can help with pain and inflammation--just the thing that aching, tight muscles need. CBD oil is an all-natural byproduct of the hemp plant and has been used by many to improve their wellness. Two specific terpenes often found in CBD oil are particularly good muscle relaxers: delta-limonene and beta-myrcene. These compounds are natural anti-inflammatories. Whether applied directly to the tight muscles or taken orally, CBD can promote a sense of calm and relax you.
Much like CBD, cayenne pepper can also be taken orally and even applied topically! One of the main components of cayenne peppers is capsaicin, which is known as what makes cayenne peppers so spicy. This substance has been discovered to be a strong natural muscle relaxant and is commonly recommended for people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Even though you may enjoy adding cayenne to some of your recipes for an added spice, you can also easily find it in capsule form; or use a capsaicin cream to target certain areas directly.
And it’s not just cayenne pepper: the same beneficial properties of capsaicin have been found in red pepper, paprika, curries, hot sauce like Tabasco, and other spicy foods. In 2009, the FDA approved capsaicin for pharmaceutical use as a topical ointment for muscle pain and relaxation, including for neuropathy, shingles, post herpetic-neuralgia. Although it can’t cure these ailments, it can treat the symptoms and greatly reduce pain.
If you’re looking for a sweet way to naturally relieve muscle pain, blueberries may do the trick! A former study examined whether or not recovery of muscle pain and damage would be accelerated if test subjects consumed a blueberry smoothie both before and after strenuous exercise. Results showed that recovery was in fact quickened in the subjects that had the smoothie vs. those who did not. Blueberries are widely known for their antioxidant properties, which show to reduce oxidative stress and act as an anti-inflammatory.
Blueberries are excellent in smoothies because they can be added to so many other great muscle relaxers. On recipe calls for:
- hemp seeds (protein helps with muscle recovery and omega 3 adds a beneficial anti-inflammatory effect)
- bananas (potassium & carbohydrates assist muscular recovery)
- blueberries (all the benefits we mentioned above)
- acai (source of high magnesium content, which is a beneficial muscle relaxant)
- Sea salt (replaces your electrolytes and trace minerals after exercise
- filtered water or coconut water (coconut water adds additional electrolytes)
Peppermint oil has been used as a natural remedy for easing muscle pain for a long time. In fact, a 2018 study found that ingesting it might aid in the recovery of sore muscles. Peppermint oil has many benefits and uses: it can be taken orally, applied topically on sore areas, and just the aroma alone can promote calming and healing. Pro tip: try adding a little bit of peppermint oil to your next bath to promote deeper relaxation and muscle relief.
Cherries are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which make them a great addition to your diet to ease muscle fatigue. A recent scientific study found that cherry juice concentrate can reduce pain and muscle damage caused by exercise. You can even purchase tart cherry powder as a supplement and add it to your diet.
Did you know that magnesium is the 7th most abundant element on earth and 11th most common in the human body?! Commonly known as one of the elements found on the periodic table, magnesium plays a crucial role in neuromuscular transmission and muscular contraction. Therefore, people who suffer from a magnesium deficiency are more likely to experience muscle cramps and spasms. Eating foods rich in magnesium, like almonds and spinach; or simply taking a magnesium supplement, can be a natural way to aid muscle pain.
Numerous studies have shown that protein is essential for reducing muscle inflammation. For example, one study focused on marathon runners and concluded that their recovery after a race was eased by a diet high in protein and carbohydrates. Protein can be found in many different foods, like meat and nuts. Some other ways you can add protein to your diet include switching to greek yogurt, adding a hard boiled egg to your salad, or using peanut butter as a fruit dip.
Whether it’s used in a calming tea, or taken as an oil, lemongrass can be used as a soothing natural muscle relaxer. Originally used in southeast Asia for its many healing properties, lemongrass has since become more widely popular in the U.S., with studies suggesting it can be used as a natural treatment for inflammation and minor nerve pain.