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6 Unconventional Ways to Treat Sore Muscles

Cherry Juice

tart cherry juice for muscle soreness

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You won't need a spoonful of sugar to help this medicine go down! Tart cherry juice has rapidly become one of the hottest superfoods, thanks to its high level of antioxidants (even more than pomegranates!) and other benefits—one of which is decreased muscle soreness. Try adding a splash to your post-workout smoothie. (Here are more health benefits of tart cherries that go beyond helping your sore muscles.)

Creatine

creatine to help treat sore muscles

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One of the few supplements to hold up under research scrutiny, creatine has been shown to help lessen the pain and duration of muscle soreness from an intense strength-training session. Creatine is an amino acid whose job in your body is to funnel energy to your cells, particularly your muscle cells. So more creatine in your system means more energy is available for building and repairing those toned biceps you've been working on. Even better, reported side effects like bloating or upset stomach are rare and generally mild. (Take it from a dietitian; here's everything you need to know about creatine supplements.)

Mushroom Extract

cordyceps for muscle pain and sore muscle relief

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Funny story: A bunch of Chinese goat herders noticed that their furry friends appeared much peppier after eating a certain type of mushroom. So they did what any curious goat herder would do; they ate some too. Fast forward through a slew of lab and research experiments and now the cordyceps mushroom is available to all, no goat necessary. The 'shroom works by activating ATP, the energy powerhouses in your cells, to give you "clean" energy without resorting to stimulants. (P.S. This is a type of super-healthy plant compound called adaptogens.)

Epsom Salts

epsom salt bath to prevent sore muscles post-workout

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Magnesium, the primary component of Epsom salts, is essential for healthy muscles and is a gentle natural muscle relaxant. The salts, when added to a warm bath or compress, are absorbed by the skin and are actually more effective this way than when taken as an oral magnesium supplement. But then do you really need a reason to go take a nice, hot bath? (While they do help sore muscles, Epsom salt baths don't have detoxifying properties.)

Caffeine

coffee to help muscle soreness

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Your morning latte just got a healthy halo, thanks to University of Georgia researchers who found that taking caffeine, about the equivalent of two cups of coffee, helped reduce muscle soreness in women after a strenuous workout. It works by blocking adenosine, a chemical released by your body in response to injury. Just be careful not to overdo this one, as too much caffeine can cause muscle spasms. (Coffee doesn't just help DOMS—caffeine can also boost your workout performance like crazy.)

Foam Rolling

benefits of foam rolling for sore muscles

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Cheap, easy to use, and—according to many very enthusiastic adherents—the best cure for sore muscles since ibuprofen, the foam roller is making huge waves. Foam rolling involves a technique called self-myofascial release, which uses pressure and targeted massage to help prevent scarring of the connective tissue between your muscles (the fascia). Take it easy your first time, though. While it looks as easy as falling off a log, falling off this particular log can be very painful until you get used to the amount of pressure you need to use. (BTW you shouldn't only foam roll when your muscles are sore.)

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