There are few things that couch potatoes and athletes have in common, but one of them is muscle pain. Muscle pain is often caused by strenuous workouts, mild injuries or a lack of activity. For either type of muscle pain, there are some simple therapeutic techniques to relieve the pain and soreness. Though you will feel better immediately, muscle therapy must continue for a few weeks to make real improvements.
To alleviate muscle tightness and soreness, do not rub back and forth. Whether you are rubbing your own muscles or having someone do it for you, rub in only one direction. Use slow, deliberate, firm strokes. If done properly, this is painful. Eventually, the tight muscle will relax, easing your pain. Do not be surprised if a well-worked muscle is sore the next day.
Learn to identify the trigger points in your body where tight muscles hide, and work them systematically. Trigger points can be identified by the “balled-up” feeling in the muscle. For areas of the body you are unable to reach, use a tennis ball if no one is available to help you. Place the tennis ball between your body and the wall, and move your body to create muscle-rubbing tension as the ball rolls along the wall.
Foam rollers are also helpful in do-it-yourself muscle therapy. Lay the foam roller on the floor or place it between your body and the wall, as you would the tennis ball. Then move your body, allowing the foam roller to roll along the floor or wall, massaging your sore, achy muscles.
Stretching is wonderful exercise, but it has limited success in relieving chronic muscle pain. Muscles can become contracted permanently, and it is necessary to use pressure with your hands, the ball or the foam roller to loosen the muscle enough for stretching.
Protein is the building material muscles are made of. Lean meat is the best source of protein. To counteract osteoporosis as we age, dairy products also have protein. Hard cheese is a good source of calcium and protein, but use caution because hard cheese is very high in fat and calories. Arnica, cayenne and white willow supplements also help ease the pain of sore muscles.
Always warm up and stretch properly before exercising or playing sports. Stay hydrated during activity to prevent muscle cramping and spasms that contribute to sore muscles. Loose, comfortable clothing is important during a workout because it allows the blood to flow properly.
Grey’s Anatomy scrubs are excellent for working out, stretching and exercising because they help keep you cool, allow your muscles to move freely and do not cut blood flow to the extremities. These scrubs are also very fashionable.