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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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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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