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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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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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