Oh! My Aching…
Lists of Pain Relievers, Techniques, and Ointments for Sore Muscles
It’s that time of year, time in your life, or maybe it’s your every day, but at some point your muscles are going to ache. What do you do to relieve muscle aches and pains? I have compiled lists of pain relievers, techniques, and ointments that I have used and what my experience with each has been. These are in no particular order.
- Ibuprofen aka Motrin, Advil, or Store Brand. My go to when the pain is unrelenting and/or persists for more than 24 hours. It’s good for relieving inflammation and soreness.
- Acetaminophen aka Tylenol or Store Brand. Not as effective as Ibuprofen for me, but I occasionally use this to switch up my use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
- Aspirin aka Bayer or Store Brand. Aspirin has gotten a bad reputation for being harsh on the GI (gastrointestinal) system, so I avoid keeping this on hand.
- Naproxen Sodium aka Aleve or Store Brand. This has never been an effective means of treating aches, pains, and swelling for me.
- Hydration. Drinking water every day. It helps reduce swelling, which is often the source or reason for muscle pain.
- Heating Pad. Helpful for spot treating kinked and knotted muscles. It is comforting to me.
- Ice Pack. Good for spot treating inflammation.
- Elevation. Propping the aching extremity (hand, arm, foot, leg) with pillows, so that the blood and swelling drain away from the sore muscle is helpful.
- Car Buffer. The rotary device used to wax/polish autos is also good for buffing out kinked and sore muscles. It helps to break up inflammation, knots, kinks, and all around soreness. Good for getting into muscles. Only use with someone you trust.
- Rolling Pin. The same kitchen tool that is used for rolling dough is also good for rolling out kinked and sore muscles. It helps to break up knots and kinks by applying varying amounts of pressure. Only use with someone you trust.
- Stretching. Is useful in elongating sore muscles that get cramped and kinked from lack of use. When combined with hydration it is doubly effective.
- Massage. Whether I have this done by a professional, loved one, or do it myself it is relaxing and effective. There are also massage techniques that are meant for resolving specific issues like knots or painful areas like Deep Tissue and Trigger Point massage. It’s a good way to reduce swelling and work soreness out of your muscles. It is always important to be hydrated before and after.
- Balls. Tennis or LaCrosse specifically. These are good to have around for smaller areas of muscle tissue that have knots and kinks. They break up the knots and swelling. You can roll it on the sole of the foot, applying necessary pressure or along your back/neck/shoulders between you and a wall as a few examples. Fitness businesses will sell what they call a “Trigger Point Ball,” which works ok. Tennis and LaCrosse balls produce the best results because of their firmness.
- Bath Salt/Soak. Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution mixed with a bath of hot water produces immediate results for relaxing, smoothing, and zapping the pain out of sore muscles. The Lavender version smells nice, too.
- Heat Wraps. Good for spot treating aching areas of the body for prolonged periods of time and they’re mobile (think wireless heating pad!). You can wear a heat patch/wrap while carrying on with your day. It’s as good as a heating pad, but without the wire and plug.
- Yoga. A mix of stretching, breathing, and mental focus. Search YouTube for videos or find a local yogi’s classes. Yoga is good for centering your mind on the pain, sending healing energy to the affected area(s), and breathing and stretching through the exercise/activity. My favorite channels for yoga are: Darion Murdock and Yoga with Adriene.
- Lavender Mentholatum. My current favorite means for relaxing sore muscles. It smells nice. The box and jar will tell you it’s primarily for coughing, but it can also be applied to sore muscles. It temporarily relieves aching muscles, too! (pictured above)
- Icy Hot. It is effective. Has a noticeable odor. True to its name, you will feel cold and hot while it’s working its magic on you.
- BioFreeze. Is now OTC (over the counter). It used to be only available from chiropractors. It is effective and has a noticeable odor.
- BenGay. It is effective and has a noticeable odor.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. These lists are an account of items I have used and/or things I have done that have helped me with aches, pains, and swelling. If you have chronic, persistent, unrelenting pains take yourself to a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment.
*NSAIDs are intended to reduce inflammation and pain. If you engage in activities meant to build muscle tissue, you should expect that there will be some swelling and pain. Do not follow your muscle building activities with taking NSAIDs as you will be undoing the process.
*More information about this in the article, “All About Recovery” by Precision Nutrition.