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February 7, 2012, last updated March 31, 2014
By A. Turner, Contributing Columnist
If you hit the weights at all --- and especially if you lift your
max weight--- chances are that you have had sore muscles.
In fact, muscle soreness is common among all Americans,
whether it’s because we ran a marathon without stretching
properly or because we slept on our arm wrong. One of the
most frequent types of sports injuries is "delayed onset
muscle soreness". The National Pain Foundation conducted a
survey in 2006 that found that 88% of Americans who take
medication for chronic pain suffer from this type of muscle
pain. Is there an ideal routine you should follow to prevent
sore muscles? Are there foods that can help sore muscles?
Does whey or creatine help to relieve muscle soreness?
What Causes Muscle Soreness?
Our muscles are most likely sore because of stress, strain,
overuse and minor injuries. In these cases, the pain affects
only a specific muscle or area of the body. The slightly lesser-
known type of muscle pain is called “systemic” muscle pain,
which is felt throughout the body. Systemic muscle pain is
usually a symptom of an infection or illness, such as chronic
fatigue syndrome, influenza, or Lyme diseases, or from
How Can I Prevent Muscle Soreness?
The remedies for systematic muscle soreness vary with the
disease, illness or medication, and a physician should be
consulted for each case. Localized muscle pain, however, can
sometimes be treated by changes in diet, type of exercise,
and exercise habits. Read on for ten natural remedies for
localized muscle soreness, supported by recent scientific
studies from around the world.
1. Stretching. We all yawned our way through the basic
stretches in elementary P.E, but a study in 2009 finds that it
would have been valuable to pay attention. A team of
experts from Norway, Australia and the UK, including Dr.
Robery Herbert with The George Institute for International
Health in Sydney, analyzed the effect of stretching before
and after physical activity on muscle soreness in over 2300
active adults. They found that stretching before and after
exercise reduced the risk of “bothersome soreness,” and also
reduced the risk of injuries to muscles, ligaments and
tendons. Sometimes exercising is hard enough on its own
without ensuing soreness: taking a few minutes to stretch
before and after a workout could help to alleviate muscle
2. Eat your cherries! Colorful, flavorful, and a seasonal treat
for some of us in the U.S., cherries are also full of
antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
In 2010, researchers with the Department of Medicine and
the Department of Orthopedics, both at the Oregon Health
Science University in Portland, including Kerry Kuehl with the
former, conducted a study in response to the problem of
muscle damage and inflammation after long distance
The experiment included fifty four endurance-running
participants, each of whom consumed either tart cherry juice
or a placebo twice daily for seven days before a long run.
Those who consumed cherry juice reported a “significantly
smaller increase in pain” in muscles after the race than those
who had the placebo. The research team concludes that
“ingesting tart cherry juice for 7 days prior to and during a
strenuous running event can minimize postrun muscle
And, hey, even if we’re not running a marathon, cherries
might help keep our muscle pain at bay during any sort of
exercise. Why pass up another excuse to eat cherries?
3. Get a Massage. A massage never hurts, even when it
hurts. We all know how good a massage can feel at the end
of the day, whether we visit a professional or have a
generous partner or friend.
A study published in 2009 by Mark Williams, Tudor Hale and
Carley Wilkinson, all with the University of Chichester in the
UK, suggests that a massage feels so good because it truly
alleviates muscle pain.
After seven “moderately active females” walked downhill on
a treadmill for 20 minutes while carrying a load of 10% of
their body mass, one lucky leg of each participant was
massaged for 25 minutes.
Muscle soreness was reduced in the massaged leg 48 hours
after exercise in some of the leg muscles. While the benefits
of massage after downhill walking were “muscle-specific,”
the team concludes that massage “improved functional
recovery after downhill walking.”
So if someone has reasons to not give you a massage,
patiently remind them how it will improve your functional
recovery after exercise. [New research in 2013 has found
that one simple exercise can work as well as an expensive
massage at relieving your muscle soreness. Read on]
4. Drink Black tea.
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|Eating cherries can help relieve
muscle soreness, studies show.