Muscles are a bundle of fibrous tissue which helps move the body by contraction. Stretching muscles beyond their tensile strength make them sore. Primary causes behind sore muscles are overstretching, overexertion, strenuous exercise, heavy weight lifting, and trauma. Muscle soreness is of two types – acute muscle soreness, and delayed onset muscle soreness. In acute muscle soreness, muscle pain is experienced during and immediately after exercise. In delayed onset muscle soreness, muscle pain is felt several hours to a few days after excessive exercise. The symptoms of sore muscles are pain, stiffness, and tenderness in the muscle. Using the muscle worsens the pain, and resting it brings relief. Homeopathic medicines for sore muscles is very beneficial. Muscle soreness arising from different causes is dealt with effectively with these medicines.
Treatment Options for Sore Muscles
Conventional treatment involves the use of non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs which relieve pain by preventing the body’s cyclooxygenase enzymes from working. These enzymes make hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which contribute to pain and inflammation. NSAIDs are most often prescribed for arthritis and for the pain resulting from muscle sprains, strains, back and neck injuries, and menstrual cramps. Some commonly seen side effects can include nausea, stomach pain, bleeding and ulcer formation. NSAIDs also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems and they can interact with drugs prescribed for heart diseases such as blood thinners, antihypertensive drugs, and aspirin. Homeopathic treatment for sore muscles is very beneficial. Muscle soreness arising from different causes is dealt with effectively with homeopathy medicines. These medicines help persons with sore muscles caused by overstretching, overexerting, or injuries.
Mind-body therapies are treatments that are meant to help the mind’s ability to access the functions and symptoms of the body. Relaxation techniques can help in the discomfort related to chronic pain.
Acupuncture is also thought to decrease pain by increasing the release of chemicals that block pain called endorphins. When stimulated, these nerves cause a dull ache or feeling of fullness in the muscle. The stimulated muscle sends a message to the central nervous system causing the release of endorphins. Endorphins along with other neurotransmitters block the message of pain from being delivered to the brain.
Homeopathic Medicines for Sore Muscles
Rhus Toxicodendron, Arnica Montana, Bryonia Alba, Cimicifuga, Gelsemium, Sanguinaria Canadensis are the top remedies used to treat muscles soreness.
1. Rhus Toxicodendron – For Sore Muscles Due to Weightlifting
Rhus Toxicodendron, also known as Poison Ivy is a flowering shrub whose leaves are used to make the medicine. It belongs to the family Anacardiaceae and is commonly found in parts of Asia and Eastern North America. The main actions of the remedy are on the inflammatory conditions, skin and rheumatic pains of the body. Rhus Tox is a beneficial remedy for the treatment of sore muscles caused due to lifting heavy weights. Stiffness, along with sore and painful muscles is also seen. Application of something warm over the affected part may offer some relief. There is also some soreness of the condyles of the bones. The cold fresh air is not tolerated and it makes the skin painful. Tenderness is also felt in the affected muscles.
2. Arnica Montana – For Sore Muscles Due to Trauma
Arnica Montana (also known as Wolf’s Bane) is a flowering plant of the Asteraceae family, the dried flowers of which are used to prepare the remedy Arnica. It is commonly found in the European region. Arnica is a well-indicated remedy for injury to the skin or for pain and swelling associated with bruises, aches, and sprains in the muscles. Sore muscles as a result of trauma respond well to Arnica. It is also a good remedy for the sore muscles after previous injuries. There is a sore, lame and bruised feeling in the body. The patient may feel the pain in various muscles as if resulting from being beaten. Touching the affected body part worsens the pain as muscles are tender. Arnica is also used for sore muscles caused by influenza.
3. Bryonia Alba – When Slight Motion Worsens the Pain
Bryonia Alba or White Bryony is a perennial climbing herb found in parts of Europe and Northern Iran, of the family Cucurbitaceae. The dried root of this plant is used to prepare the homeopathic remedy. Bryonia has its affinity towards dryness of all mucous membranes of the body, aching in single muscle and the serous membranes of the organs. Bryonia Alba is best suited in cases of sore muscles when relief is brought about by only absolute rest. The slightest motion of the affected part worsens the pain. People requiring Bryonia feel relief when pressure is applied to the affected part. Lying down on the affected part also makes the soreness of the muscles better.
Other Important Remedies
Cimicifuga is a beneficial medicine for sore muscles affecting the central bulge of the large muscles. In such cases, the application of something cold worsens the pain. Cimicifuga is an excellent medicine for sore muscles caused by excessive muscle exertion, like dancing or long, continuous running, etc. Pain in the muscles of the neck from overwork like typing is also treated well with this remedy.
Gelsemium is a beneficial medicine for the sore muscles. It is used in cases of extreme weakness and fatigue accompanying muscle soreness. In such cases, the patient gets relief by lying down or resting. Gelsemium helps to relieve the pain in the muscles as well as the weakness along with it. Gelsemium also works well for sore muscles caused by influenza.
6. Sanguinaria Canadensis
Sanguinaria Canadensis is a useful medicine for soreness and pain in the deltoid muscle. Along with being painful, the deltoid muscle is also very stiff. The pain worsens on lifting the arm and usually aggravates at night time. Sanguinaria works well for deltoid pain on the right side.
Types of Muscle Soreness
Muscle soreness is of two types:
Acute muscle soreness is the pain felt in the muscles immediately after a vigorous physical stimulus. The pain appears within a minute of contraction of the muscle and disappears within two or three minutes or up to some hours after the muscle’s relaxation.
Accumulation of chemical end products of exercise in muscle cells, such as H+, tissue edema caused by the shifting of blood plasma into the muscle tissue during the process of contraction, muscle fatigue (the muscle tires and cannot carry out contraction any more), and acute muscle soreness reflects one form of exercise-induced muscle damage.
Delayed onset muscle soreness is exercise-related muscle pain. It develops after excessive and unaccustomed exercise after the muscles fail to relax within 48-72 hours. It is prevalent if that exercise has an eccentric component where the muscles are contracting whilst lengthening – eg downhill running, long-distance running.
Causes of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
DOMS is caused by muscle strains. The trauma results in an inflammatory response with intramuscular fluid and as a result the electrolyte shift. Biochemical markers such as creatine kinase and lactic dehydrogenase are found in the blood of the sufferers. Swelling, pain is thought to be the reason why muscle strength and function is impaired in the patients.
Symptoms of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
The classic symptoms of this soreness describe a dull muscle ache that develops 24 to 48 hours after a strenuous exercise. It is localized to the affected muscles and results in muscle stiffness as well as tenderness. Passive stretching will increase the symptoms which is one of the reasons why stiffness develops. This condition can also result in a short-term loss of muscle strength, a reduced range of motion and possible swelling of the affected muscles. Continuous movement may improve the symptom of stiffness over time.
How do Muscles get Sore?
One of the consequences of vigorous exercise is an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Lactic acid is a normal byproduct of the metabolism, but it can irritate the muscles thus causing discomfort and soreness. Muscle soreness associated with an exercise is known as delayed onset muscle soreness. It can make it difficult to walk, reduce the strength, or cause discomfort for a couple of days. However, lactic acid is removed from muscle from just a few hours to less than a day after a workout, so it isn’t the cause of the soreness experienced days after a workout. The swelling in the muscle that results from an influx of white blood cells, prostaglandins (anti-inflammatory cells), and other nutrients and fluids that flow to the muscles to repair the damage and are known to be the cause of a prolonged soreness. The swelling and inflammation can build up for days, thereby becoming the main reason for muscle soreness getting worse after 2-3 days.
Managing and Preventing Sore Muscles
To minimize the development of muscle soreness, the following suggestions should be kept in mind:
Take it slow and gradually build up the amount of exercise at one time.
Be aware of the amount of eccentric exercise being included in the workouts.
Long distance runners should incorporate eccentric quadriceps training into their training to avoid soreness.
It is advisable to avoid aggressive exercise during the recovery phase. This is due to the muscle’s reduced capacity to cope up with the shock absorption, in-coordination, and the contraction intensity. Cycling has been shown to temporarily ease the pain.
Using an ice pack in case of an acute injury, or if there is a swelling of the muscle area and it feels warm, can help soothe the muscle. Wrap up an ice pack in a thin towel and place it on the sore muscles for about 15 minutes.
A massage will help to relax the very tight sore muscles and soothes muscle aches. However, this should not be done in cases of an acute injury.
Stretching your muscles for about 10 minutes after a rigorous workout to prevent sore muscles and warming up the body with simple movements like arm swings before exercise can help avoid soreness.
In the case of soreness, do not stop exercising completely. The fact that we experience muscle soreness after a workout is a sign that the muscles have been stretched and are slowly getting better. By using the muscles (with light activity) we can speed up the elimination of lactic acid buildup in the muscles.
Build up eccentric exercises slowly. Eccentric contractions occur when the muscles lengthen under tension. Walking or running downhill are also examples of eccentric training. Increasing the intensity gradually is seen to have relieved the intensity of pain.
Lastly, a warm bath may loosen the tightened muscles and boost up the blood circulation, thus providing temporary relief.