Almost everyone will at some point in their life experience ‘normal’ pain from aching muscles. No one should have to put up with debilitating, chronic pain but muscle aches are super common and because muscle tissue is present all over your body, this type of pain can be felt practically anywhere.
A huge part of my job is reassuring patient’s that the muscle pains they’re feeling are normal and nothing to worry about. On further questioning, patient’s can usually attribute their muscle aches to a particular cause. The most common cause of muscle aches is from some sort of physical strain. Gardening seems to commonly cause aching muscles in the low back, going for a long walk can leave leg and buttocks muscles sore, prolonged sitting can make you feel achy and tight through the hips and shoulders.
Whilst physical muscle tension leading to muscle pain is very common, don’t underestimate the significance that emotional stress can have on muscles. A stressful period at work or at home can often leave people feeling particularly tender over muscles of the neck, head and jaw.
Although most muscle aches are a normal part of life you should see your doctor if your muscle aches do not go away after a few days, if your pain comes on suddenly for no apparent reason, your pain is severe or debilitating, the pain is accompanied by a rash, fever, vomiting or weakness.
Here are my top tips for managing muscle aches:
1. Use an ice pack. Ice is nature’s anti-inflammatory and it has none of the nasty side effects of anti-inflammatory medication. Wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas in something (a towel, pillowcase or old t-shirt all work fine) place the ice pack on the affected area for 5- 10 mins, reapply after 90 minutes off and repeat as needed.
2. Stay gently active. It may not be wise to repeat the activity that lead to the muscle soreness but staying gently active, a little walking or yoga can help prevent the muscles from getting too tight and seizing up.
3. Stretch the muscles. – Gently stretch muscles to relax them.
4. Use self massage techniques – a foam roller or a tennis ball are perfect self massage tools.
5. Get plenty of sleep. When we’re in deep sleep our bodies prioritise recovery and repair of tissues.
6. Use magnesium supplementation – magnesium is nature’s tranquilliser and you can apply it topically in a spray to ease sore muscles.
7. Stay hydrated – adults should aim for 2-3 L of water a day.
8. Eat a nutrient dense diet including protein, veggies and healthy fats. Your body cannot repair and recovery without essential nutrients.
9. Meditate. Get your body out of ‘flight and flight’ mode and into ‘rest and digest’ mode with a little meditation so your body is in a state that’s optional for healing and recovery.
10. See a professional. Book yourself a sports massage to really help break down any soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue and relieve muscle tension and soreness.
I hope you find some of these tips useful!