What's the Best Relief for Muscle Pain?
Author: Flex Wheeler
As someone who has pushed my body to the limit throughout my entire career as a bodybuilder, I know first-hand how important it is to effectively manage muscle pain. It can be tough to bear aching joints or sore muscles, whether they’re due to an intense workout or everyday activities.
Whether you're an avid gym-goer or an occasional runner, muscle pain can be a common setback when you're trying to stay active. Thankfully, there are plenty of treatments available, ranging from traditional methods like ice packs and over-the-counter painkillers to newer options like CBD muscle gels.
In this blog, I'll explore some of the most popular and effective treatments for muscle pain relief.
What Causes Muscle Pain?
Muscle pain can impact anyone, regardless of age or fitness level. Understanding the common causes of muscle pain can help you prevent or manage your discomfort more effectively. Here are the most common causes of muscle pain:
- Overuse. When you engage in repetitive or excessive physical activity, your muscles can become strained and sore. Physical activity, especially new or intense exercise, can also contribute to muscle strain and stiffness.
- Injury. You may experience muscle pain due to a sports injury, car accident, or fall.
- Muscle tension. Pain and tension can result from poor posture, stress, or anxiety.
- Medical conditions. Conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome can cause ongoing muscle pain and tenderness. These conditions are often accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, and mood changes. You might also experience muscle pain as a result of an infection, thyroid problems, or an autoimmune disorder.
- Certain medications. Some medications can cause muscle pain as a side effect.
Treatments for Muscle Pain Relief
1. Hot & Cold Therapy
Hot and cold therapy is an effective way to manage muscle pain and relieve DOMS symptoms. Heating pads, for example, help increase blood flow to the area of inflammation, which can help flush out the byproducts associated with it. A 20-minute session is enough to experience the benefits of heat.
On the other hand, cold therapy can help reduce inflammation in the affected area by constricting blood vessels. It also numbs pain and reduces muscle spasm. Cold therapy is best applied in short intervals. A 10-minute session, for example, is enough to reduce inflammation and pain.
Aside from heating pads and ice packs, there are other hot and cold treatments you can try. A hot shower can help relieve pain and muscle tension, while hot compresses can help increase blood flow to muscles. Cold compresses, meanwhile, can be made by wrapping ice cubes in a towel and applying it to an affected area.
2. RICE (Rest Ice Compress Elevate)
The RICE method is a treatment used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, particularly for those experiencing acute muscle injuries:
- Rest. Giving your body time to rest and recover is essential, particularly when dealing with muscle pain. Taking a break from physical activity can help prevent further damage and give your body the opportunity it needs to heal.
- Ice. Applying an ice pack to the affected area can help soothe inflammation, reduce swelling, and provide pain relief. Ice helps by restricting blood flow to the injured area, reducing the amount of inflammation that occurs.
- Compression. Applying gentle pressure to the injured area can help limit swelling and reduce the amount of fluid that builds up in the tissues.
- Elevation. Elevating the injured area above the level of your heart can help reduce swelling and improve blood flow to the area, helping to promote healing.
The RICE method is a simple and effective way to provide muscle pain relief. Each component of the treatment works together to reduce inflammation and pain, allowing your body to recover more quickly.
3. Muscle Pain Relief Gels
One of the most effective ways to alleviate muscle pain is through topical pain relief gels. These gels are applied directly to the affected area, providing fast-acting relief from discomfort and inflammation.
There are plenty of different pain relief gels available, from ibuprofen-infused gels to all-natural options. Although ibuprofen gels can be effective, long-term use of ibuprofen can result in harmful side effects. For this reason, I prefer natural gels that are gentler on the body.
One treatment that I highly recommend is HEMPE CBD Hot and Cold Muscle Gels. These gels are made with CBD (cannabidiol) and other natural ingredients like aloe vera and eucalyptus oil, to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain fast and I've personally found it a truly natural relief for chronic pain, as you can see in the following video.
CBD is a powerful ingredient that interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, helping to regulate pain and reduce inflammation.
HEMPE Hot Muscle Gel is great for warming sore muscles, easing tension, and reducing pain in just a few minutes. HEMPE Ice Muscle Gel offers a cooling and soothing sensation and reduces inflammation.
They're perfect for those who experience muscle pain after a workout or have chronic pain from an injury. Plus, they're all-natural and free of harmful chemicals, making them a safe and effective option for long-term use.
4. Gentle Exercise
While it may be tempting to rest and avoid physical activity when you're feeling sore, engaging in gentle exercise can actually be beneficial for muscle pain relief.
Lighter exercises such as walking, yoga, or swimming can help to increase blood flow to the affected area, which can speed up the healing process. Just make sure not to push yourself too hard, as this can lead to further injury or pain.
5. Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be useful for easing muscle pain, reducing swelling and inflammation. While these pain relievers can be effective for temporary relief, prolonged use may lead to other health issues like stomach ulcers and liver damage.
It's important to use them only as recommended and not exceed the recommended dose or duration of use. Always consult your doctor before taking any medication if you have underlying medical conditions, and follow the recommended dosage instructions.
6. Alternative Therapies
When it comes to pain relief, many people reach for over-the-counter medications. But there are alternative therapies that may also be worth exploring.
Acupuncture has long been used as a natural remedy for pain relief, and there is anecdotal evidence linking it to the treatment of muscle pain. Similarly, massage therapy and chiropractic care have been touted for their ability to alleviate muscle tension and soreness. While these alternative therapies may not have been scientifically tested to the same degree as over-the-counter pain relief, they're worth considering as complementary options.
If you're seeking natural pain relief, it's important to explore all avenues and find what works best for you.
Lifestyle Factors for Reducing Muscle Pain
A healthy lifestyle can also go a long way in alleviating muscle aches and pains. Here are some ways to prevent, reduce, and alleviate muscle pain:
Maintain a Balanced Diet. A nutritious diet plays a crucial role in overall muscle health. Ensure your diet includes an adequate amount of protein, which aids in muscle repair and recovery. Additionally, consuming foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, can help reduce inflammation and support muscle healing.
Stay Hydrated. Drinking enough water is essential for proper muscle function and recovery. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and increased muscle soreness. Aim to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to keep your muscles hydrated and functioning optimally.
Engage in Regular Exercise. Regular physical activity helps strengthen muscles, improves flexibility, and reduces the risk of muscle imbalances and injuries. Incorporate a balanced exercise routine that includes both cardiovascular exercises and strength training to support overall muscle health.
Practice Proper Posture. Maintaining good posture throughout the day is crucial for preventing muscle pain and tension. Poor posture can strain muscles and lead to imbalances, resulting in discomfort. Be mindful of your posture, whether sitting, standing, or engaging in physical activities, and make adjustments as needed.
Prioritise Rest and Recovery. Giving your muscles adequate time to rest and recover is vital for reducing muscle pain. Engage in active rest days, alternate between intense workouts and lighter activities, and ensure you're getting enough quality sleep. Sleep allows your muscles to repair and regenerate, contributing to reduced muscle soreness.
Incorporate Stretching and Warm-up Exercises. Prior to engaging in physical activity, warm-up exercises and stretching can help prepare your muscles for the workout, improve flexibility, and reduce the risk of muscle strains or injuries. Cooling down and stretching after exercise can also aid in muscle recovery and alleviate post-workout soreness.
Manage Stress Levels. High levels of stress can contribute to muscle tension and pain. Practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in activities you enjoy to help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Managing stress can have a positive impact on overall muscle health.
Maintain a Healthy Weight. Excess body weight puts additional stress on muscles and joints, potentially leading to pain and discomfort. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help alleviate strain on your muscles and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal issues.
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Bottom Line on Muscle Pain Relief
Managing muscle pain is possible (and essential) for people of all fitness levels and can greatly impact your ability to stay active and pursue your fitness goals. Having explored various treatments for muscle pain relief, ranging from traditional methods like hot and cold therapy, the RICE method, and over-the-counter pain relievers to newer options like CBD muscle rub solutions and alternative therapies.
Each treatment has its benefits and considerations, and it's important to choose the approach that works best for your specific situation. You'll probably find that a hybrid approach is best for you, and many find relief in combining pain relief gels with gentle exercises and over-the-counter pain relievers as needed.
Remember, everyone's experience with muscle pain and their response to treatments may vary. It's important to listen to your body, consult with healthcare professionals when necessary, and tailor your approach to suit your individual needs.
By taking a proactive approach to muscle pain management and adopting healthy lifestyle habits, you can minimise discomfort, promote muscle recovery, and continue to lead an active and fulfilling life!
About the author:
Kenneth "Flex" Wheeler is a retired IFBB professional bodybuilder. He won the Arnold Classic four times and was once described by Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the greatest bodybuilders he had ever seen. Since retirement, Wheeler focused on martial arts and has become a body transformation specialist, sharing his passion and helping others get in shape.