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Last Updated on May 7, 2018

Stiff Muscles Make You Feel Sick Often: 8 Natural Muscle Relaxers You Can’t Miss

Stiff Muscles Make You Feel Sick Often: 8 Natural Muscle Relaxers You Can’t Miss

Walking, smiling, frowning – what’s the commonality in all this? Muscles, that’s what. Muscles work in two ways – by contracting and expanding, thereby pushing and pulling the joints and bones into movement. This is what is generally called the flexing of muscles. For muscles to stay healthy, they need to go back to a relaxed position after muscle flexing occurs. When muscles are unable to contract back to their resting position, it creates muscle stiffness and pains.

Why is muscle stiffness bad?

You might be attributing your muscle stiffness to that latest boot camp workout you tried the night before, but ignoring muscle aches is not good for health. Regular and untreated muscle stiffness can turn into chronic and debilitating body pain to say the least, and can cause brain fog, general fatigue, a feverish feeling, and even restrict movement and posture to a great degree. Muscle stiffness needs to be treated at the root of the problem – not by pain medication that just blocks the pain signals, but by remedies that aid the body in muscle relaxation.

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Are there any natural remedies to help muscles relax?

Whether you are experiencing weather-related stiff muscles, general soreness from a workout, or even posture-related muscle aches – there are these eight things you can proactively do to alleviate the symptoms at their core:

1. Get a massage

Thought massage was only good for the skin? Research shows that a massage can really ease stiff muscles by getting the blood to flow faster into the sore areas, and letting the body heal itself from the inside. Trained therapists can also locate pressure points and are able to manipulate them to release tension and ease pain and have you looking and feeling great all over.[1]

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2. Try herbal TLC

Arnica is not just a great hair oil ingredient. In fact, this high-altitude plant, often called the mountain daisy, is a great pain reliever too. Available at most health food and herbal pharmacies, arnica can be bought as a tincture, cream, salve, or ointment meant for topical use. It also reduces aches, bruises, swelling, and soreness because of its active anti-inflammatory properties. Some athletes actually swear by it, though the scientific jury is still out on its effectiveness.[2]

3. Indulge in some spices

Capsaicin, the “heat” agent in cayenne pepper responsible for that on-fire tongue, is a great anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. Eating a peppered dish will not only slim you down, but also ease any and all stiff muscles. Capsaicin also stops the brain from sending too many pain signals while the muscles relax into their normal state.[3]

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4. Take a soak

We know that muscles work by expansion and contraction. For expansion, the muscles are flooded with calcium ions, which make the muscles stretch. To contract back to their relaxed state, the muscles are flooded with magnesium ions. A soak in warm water enriched with magnesium-rich Epsom salts allows your body to soak in the required magnesium, which prods muscles into relaxing back to their resting stage.[4]

5. Eat protein

When you stress those muscles, you are making them work on protein power. So in order to replenish and rejuvenate those tired muscles, you need more protein! If you are feeling sore, don’t reach for comfort fried foods. Healthy proteins like chicken, eggs, and lentils will ease the soreness and prevent any muscle damage in the long run too.[5]

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6. Indulge away

If you feel like reaching for a treat to alleviate those poor, overworked and by now stiff muscles, make it a dark chocolate bar. The antioxidant content of dark chocolate helps the body combat oxidative stress. It eases the muscles into relaxing while simultaneously alleviating pain. The taste and the other anti-stress benefits don’t hurt either![6].

7. Drink a cup of tea

A cup of peppermint or chamomile tea can go a long way in easing stiff muscles because of the pain-relieving properties of both the plants. Chamomile is rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants and help in easing inflammation, thereby reducing soreness. Peppermint, on the other hand, contains menthol, which is anti-inflammatory and analgesic in nature (think ibuprofen) and helps the muscles ease into their relaxed state naturally.[7]

8. Hydrate, pronto

Water is needed by the whole body, and muscles are no different. Stiff muscles can be a sign of dehydration because water is essential to maintain the ideal electrolyte balance (calcium for contracting and magnesium for relaxing) in the muscles. A glass of water might make a big difference since it lets the body flood the muscles with magnesium ions, in order to contract the muscles into their relaxed state.[8]

Remember to pay attention to your body when it sends you a pain signal. Popping a pain reliever will only stop the brain from sending the signal in the first place, not treat the issue at hand. Using natural remedies to help the body heal itself will work the best. And stay away from any and all pro-inflammatory agents like sugar, alcohol, and caffeine – at least until the pain goes away!

Reference

[1] http://www.livestrong.com/article/500025-ways-to-loosen-up-tight-muscles/
[2] https://www.12minuteathlete.com/sore-muscles/
[3] http://www.prevention.com/health/10-healing-foods-that-fight-pain
[4] http://www.top10homeremedies.com/kitchen-ingredients/10-best-natural-muscle-relaxers.html
[5] http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/recovery/eat-and-drink-away-sore-muscles_38375
[6] http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/health-benefits-dark-chocolate
[7] http://www.top10homeremedies.com/kitchen-ingredients/10-best-natural-muscle-relaxers.html
[8] http://www.livestrong.com/article/446204-can-drinking-plenty-of-water-a-day-prevent-tight-muscles/

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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