We can stretch, warm up well and drink plenty of water, but we rarely escape the main consequence of resuming sport after a long period of cessation: body aches! These usually manifest as stiffness , tenderness and/or pain in unusually strained muscles.
Body aches can also be secondary to a viral infection (flu, cold, COVID-19, etc.), premenstrual syndrome (occurring in women before menstruation) or even taking certain medications (interferon).
Whatever the cause of your aches, natural solutions exist to get rid of them and prevent them from coming back to ruin your next exercise sessions. Discover them in this article!
What are body aches? How are they explained?
Body aches are diffuse muscle pains that occur within 12 to 48 hours after unusual physical activity . They generally reach their peak (painful peak ) between 24 and 48 hours and persist for about 5 days .
Contrary to popular belief, aches are not the consequence of the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles with effort.
Indeed, scientific studies have shown that the lactic acid formed is evacuated in the first two hours following physical exercise. We are therefore a long way from the period of 12 to 48 hours before the onset of aches… This accumulation of acid can only explain the pain occurring during exercise and in the two hours after it!
In fact, aches are due to muscle microlesions that occur during physical exertion. Our body, to repair these, triggers an inflammatory reaction in the muscles.
It is precisely this inflammation, through the slight edema formed and the pro-inflammatory chemicals accumulated in the muscles, which stimulates nerve endings sending a message of pain to the brain .
Aches: 9 natural remedies to relieve them
To prevent aches , or at least reduce their intensity , it is recommended to properly prepare your muscles before physical exertion , through a good warm-up and some light stretching .
Once established, there are a number of solutions to naturally relieve muscle aches . Here are 9 of them:
1. Do active recovery
When you suffer from body aches , one of the best methods to relieve them is to play sports - provided that it is a short and not very intense sporting activity! This is called “active recovery” .
For example, if you have body aches the day after a leg weight training session, a short jog of 15 to 20 minutes at a light or moderate pace is recommended.
This active recovery promotes blood circulation in the muscles, which accelerates the elimination of metabolic waste accumulated there.
2. Take a good cold bath
Cold baths are effective in relieving aches thanks to the reduction of painful inflammatory phenomena in the muscles after exercise.
To take advantage of the cold's anti-aching properties , immerse yourself in cold water (temperature around 15°C) for about fifteen minutes after your exercise session.
This method is widely used among very high level athletes to promote muscle recovery after intense training, a match, a fight...
3. Take Devil's Claw
Harpagophytum , also called "devil's claw" , is a medicinal plant native to the semi-desert regions of South Africa, known worldwide for its therapeutic virtues on pathologies of the osteoarticular sphere .
Thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of harpagoside , its active ingredient, this plant consumed regularly helps reduce muscle aches in the short and long term.
In addition to alleviating body aches, harpagophytum is also very effective in relieving other conditions linked to the practice of a regular sporting activity such as joint pain , tendonitis and low back pain .
4. Taste a meadowsweet infusion
Meadowsweet is a medicinal plant known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties . It is also qualified, just like the white willow, of vegetable aspirin!
In addition to effectively fighting inflammation, this plant also has antispasmodic properties .
Thanks to a double anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic action , it therefore relieves all kinds of musculoskeletal pain such as body aches , tendonitis and arthralgia .
Put 1 tablespoon of dried flowering tops of meadowsweet in approximately 250 ml of water previously brought to the boil and leave to infuse for ten minutes. All you have to do is filter and enjoy! 3 to 4 cups a day of this infusion are enough to soothe your muscles and calm your aches .
Be careful, if you are allergic to aspirin or take blood thinning treatments , avoid consuming this infusion.
5. Magnesium supplementation
Magnesium is an essential mineral for the proper functioning of the muscles, because it acts on the permeability of the myocytes (muscle cells) vis-à-vis other minerals and electrolytes involved in muscle contraction and relaxation (calcium, sodium and potassium).
In case of magnesium deficiency , the muscles become weaker and are more prone to cramps , contractures and aches . It is therefore important to provide the body with enough of it.
To fill up on magnesium and reduce body aches, regularly eat magnesium-rich foods such as bananas , dried fruits , chia seeds , whole grains and fatty fish .
You can also opt for a cure of magnesium bisglycinate , a food supplement based on magnesium associated with glycine easily assimilated by the body . It therefore offers a better action against muscular disorders such as cramps or aches.
In addition, magnesium supplementation helps reduce stress , anxiety and depression , increases cognitive performance (memory, concentration), improves sleep and strengthens bones .
6. Wintergreen essential oil massage
Wintergreen essential oil , thanks to its anti-inflammatory , analgesic and antispasmodic properties, is very effective in relieving aches.
Dilute 2 or 3 drops of this essential oil in about 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil (sweet almond or jojoba for example), then use the resulting mixture as a massage oil.
2 or 3 times a day, vigorously and deeply massage your sore muscles to thoroughly penetrate the soothing active ingredients of wintergreen essential oil.
In addition to relieving aches, these massages with wintergreen essential oil promote the elimination of metabolic waste and accelerate the repair of muscle microlesions by activating local blood circulation.
7. Fill up on omega 3
Omega 3 are unsaturated fatty acids essential for the proper functioning of our body. In addition to preserving cardiovascular health , maintaining good vision and improving brain performance , these good fats have a powerful natural anti-inflammatory action that helps fight against various pathological situations.
By providing enough omega 3 , we help our body to maintain inflammatory phenomena at acceptable levels.
Thus, by acting on their inflammatory component , omega 3 can reduce aches.
To fill up with omega 3 , regularly eat oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, cod, etc.), rapeseed oil , nuts , avocado and egg yolk.
You can also use a food supplement based on fish oil rich in omega 3 to correct any deficiency and significantly reduce your aches.
8. Green clay poultice
Green clay has analgesic , anti-inflammatory and remineralizing properties on muscles, bones and joints.
To effectively relieve your body aches, apply thick layers of green clay poultices to the painful areas (legs, calves, shoulders, arms, back, etc.) and leave to act for about two hours.
You can use this method for the first 2 or 3 days of body aches (only once a day).
9. Take curcumin
Turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory herbs thanks to its active ingredient, curcumin .
Consumed daily as a spice or tea, turmeric helps reduce inflammation and fight oxidative stress throughout the body.
Curcumin is effective in relieving body aches , as it helps to act on their inflammatory component.
To make the most of the anti-ache properties of turmeric, opt for a food supplement based on curcumin . In addition to a reduction in your muscle soreness, you will benefit from a better balance in your blood cholesterol levels and an increase in your fat burning.
Conclusion: key takeaways
- Aches are muscle pains that occur after unusual physical activity , especially when resuming sport after a long period of cessation.
- Aches are a normal phenomenon , there is no need to worry, as they usually disappear in 3 to 5 days.
- The best way to get rid of body aches is to maintain regular physical activity over the long term.
- In the event of intense aches, certain natural methods are recommended, in particular active recovery which consists in practicing a light physical activity while having aches in order to promote blood circulation and accelerate the elimination of toxins that are sources of pain.
- An ice bath after an intense exercise session helps prevent muscle soreness and promote muscle recovery.
- Taking magnesium bisglycinate is recommended to prevent muscle cramps and aches, to improve muscle function in general.
- Turmeric and Devil's Claw in the form of dietary supplements are very effective in combating long-term body aches and various other osteoarticular problems.
- Meadowsweet infusions soothe muscles after exercise and reduce aches.
- Omega 3s help fight inflammation throughout the body, including the one that causes body aches.
- Massages with wintergreen essential oil calm muscle inflammation and promote the repair of microlesions.