We’ve all experienced muscle pain at one time or another. You know, the kind triggered by muscle strain, nerve compression, injury, not to mention when your joints are completely worn down.
Whether it happens suddenly or gradually, muscle pain can cause plenty of discomfort—things like tightness, hardness, or a bulging feeling in your muscles. During those times, you really want to relax and be able to get back to your day-to-day tasks. We all like a quick fix, but turning to painkillers shouldn’t be your first route of treatment. There are foods that act as natural muscle relaxers and home remedies for relaxing your muscles. We’ll talk about those in just a minute.
First, how does that pain and discomfort happen? There’s a general soreness after exertion, which is typically caused by micro tears in the muscle. Over a period of time, this soreness fades as the muscles rebuilds itself even stronger to accommodate your physical activities.
Muscle cramps, sprains, and overuse
A muscle cramp, on the other hand, may be linked to exercise or injury, dehydration, blood flow problems, certain medications, or a lack of minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Muscle cramps are characterized by strong, painful contractions or tightening that comes on immediately and lasts anywhere between a few seconds to several minutes.
Then there’s a muscle sprain, an injury to tissue connecting two or more bones at a joint, commonly known as a ligament. In this type of sprain, one or more ligaments is torn if not stretched to its limit. Similarly, muscle strain is the stretching and tearing of a tendon—that’s the tissue that connects bones to muscles. Both sprains and strains are generally caused by overuse or trauma, such as falls, twists, and other impacts.
There are two sides to the coin. Whether it’s overwork or underuse—not using muscles is equally as problematic—muscles will continue to ache and feel spastic during the course of our lives.
But don’t fret—you can try one of these 6 homemade natural muscle relaxers. There are a number of herbs that can help as a natural herbal muscle relaxers, and there are also foods that are natural muscle relaxers. Each one of these will help to relieve everything from sprains to strains, and muscle soreness to cramps.
12 effective natural muscle relaxers
Massage and movement:
A simple massage helps to stimulate blood circulation to an area affected by muscle pain or spasms, speeding up the healing process. Eventually, your muscles will build up, and you’ll be able to do more with far less discomfort. That’s because our muscles tend to want to stay doing whatever they’re doing, unless we force them to change.
In other words, if you feel your muscles tense up, they will remain tensed up. So simply stand up, walk, run, stretch, and perform your favorite activities—whatever you can do to stay active as you get older. Massage and movement are some of the most natural muscle relaxants for back pain.
Chamomile tea or oil:
Containing 36 flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory properties, chamomile is a traditional herbal remedy for many ailments, particularly muscle spasms. You can simply massage chamomile essential oil onto sore muscles in order to provide maximum relief from spasms. Chamomile tea is an herbal muscle relaxer too.
People who train vigorously place an awful lot of stress on their muscles, but cherry juice can help combat the inflammation and acute muscle pain that long distance runners typically face.
In fact, a May 2010 study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine revealed that drinking tart cherry juice minimizes that post-run pain. The study aimed to examine the effects of tart cherry juice as compared to a placebo cherry drink on pain among endurance runners. Simply put, by ingesting tart cherry juice for seven days prior to and during a long distance running event, participants were able to relax their muscles more naturally due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities of cherries, according to researchers.
Why not sip a little and reap the benefits? Cherry juice is also helpful as a sleep aid, so you can help ease your pain and get your restorative rest.
Get the benefits of this powerful berry in a delicious smoothie. According to a May 2012 study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, drinking a blueberry smoothie before and after exercise can speed up the recovery of muscles after they’ve been damaged. Blueberries have plenty of antioxidant powers and have been shown to lower stress, inflammation, and what’s called exercise-induced muscle damage, or EIMD. That’s good news for the sporting community and aging seniors.
Chili peppers, cayenne peppers, and Tabasco peppers all contain a fiery compound called capsaicin, a noted pain-reliever found in many topical ointments. Cook with these beauties for a bit of heat in soups, stews, and stir-fries.
A study published in the British Journal of Anaethesia reported daily application of low-concentration capsaicin formulations are supported by meta-analyses of numerous studies. Researchers tested a high-concentration capsaicin 8 percent patch (Qutenza™), approved in the EU and U.S. in 2011.
They found a single 60-minute application in patients with neuropathic pain produced effective pain relief for up to 12 weeks. While we’re not suggesting this patch for joint pain, it shows the power of capsaicin to help manage pain.
Mostly found in foods such as bananas, almonds, legumes, and brown rice, magnesium plays an important part in human nutrition. The mineral helps to maintain normal muscle and nerve function. Although it rarely happens, early symptoms in those who are deficient in magnesium include—you guessed it—muscle pain.
These homemade natural muscle relaxers may just be the things you need to alleviate your pain, wherever it’s found in the body and whatever the reason. Always remember, though, if your particular pain is severe or even incapacitating, be sure to contact a health care professional straightaway. After all, using these home remedies for muscle relaxants isn’t intended to replace conventional medicine altogether, but offers a first, natural course of treatment.
Lavender rub or bath:
Lavender is a traditional home remedy to aid in sleep and relaxation, and it is also great for muscle aches and pains. Try rubbing a few drops of the essential oil on your temple and breathing deeply to relax your mind and body, or put a few drops in a warm bath. Soaking in the lavender scented water will not only help you relax, but the combination of the warm temperature and soothing scent will increase blood flow to the muscles and ease cramping while encouraging a drowsy state.
Rosemary compress or bath:
Another natural herb to ease muscle pain is Rosemary. Putting a few drops into a warm bath will help ease muscle tightness much in the same way a lavender bath will, soothing joint stiffness and preventing painful muscle spasms. You can also try adding a few drops to a warm compress and pressing it to the affected joints or muscles where you are experiencing stiffness. The compress and oil work together to warm the tight muscles, allowing them to loosen and stretch and provide relief.
Epsom salt soak:
Epson salts, also known as magnesium sulfate, is a home remedy for muscle relaxation that has been used for years. Adding the salts to a warm tub and soaking in the water for a minimum of 15 minutes allows the salts to pull any excess fluid build-up from the muscles that may be causing stiffness or pain.
Stretching is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent muscles soreness and injury. Taking the time to properly stretch your muscles before and after any exercise allows them to warm up and reduces the likelihood of experiencing pain due to muscle tears or lactic acid build-up.
Muscle spasms can sometimes be caused by overworking or overstimulating your muscles, and in order for any injury you may have caused to heal properly you must give your body time to recover. Getting a good night’s sleep, resting the joints and/or muscles that are bothering you, as well as staying hydrated gives your body the tools to fully rebuild and recover any injured or strained muscle tissue.
Believe it or not, your cat’s favorite treat is actually a fantastic natural remedy for muscle pain. While this herb tends to send our feline friends into and energy fueled frenzy, when brewed into a tea and sipped slowly, catnip aids in muscle relaxation and can help to calm and soothe your body. It is considered to be an antispasmodic too, meaning that it can help prevent painful muscle spasms.
Related: Lower back pain and frequent urination: Causes and treatments