3 Natural Remedies for Sore Muscles

person stretching

Alyssa Bialowas

There’s no better feeling than the rush you get after a great workout, but that night or the next day, your muscles may not be as pleased. Fitness related muscle soreness (also known as DOMS: delayed onset muscle soreness), is caused by micro-tears in the muscle tissue that occur during intensive exercise. DOMS usually begins one to two days after unaccustomed or eccentric exercise, and affects daily activities and athletic performance (Deng et al. 2017).

Heat is a well known sore muscle remedy, and a study out of China aimed to determine whether moxibustion is a suitable remedy for DOMS. Moxibustion is an oriental therapeutic remedy utilizing heating with ignited flammable material applied to acupoints (Meng et al. 2017). Suspended (or indirect) moxibustion is safe to use on the human body, and since the mechanisms of DOMS is an inflammation process activated by muscle strain, the researchers were curious to know whether suspended moxibustion was a suitable remedy for sore muscles (Meng et al. 2017).

Related Article: The Truth Behind Antioxidants & Exercise Induced Muscle Damage

If you’re experiencing DOMs after an intense workout, here are 3 sore muscle remedies to help you heal faster.

1. Heat it Up

Use a heat wrap, take a warm bath or apply an electrical heating pad to the sore area 3 times a day for 20 minutes each time. Heat stimulates blood blow and loosens up sore muscles so you can feel better faster. You can also try suspended moxibustion. The 2017 study by Meng et al. examined the effects of suspended moxibustion on DOMS. Although they found no reduced swelling on DOMS, they found that the suspended moxibustion has a potential effect of pain relief on DOMS (Meng et al. 2017).

2. Fill Up on Anti-Inflammatory Foods

When you experience muscle soreness after exercise, anti-inflammatory foods are essential for quick recovery. Some foods have specifically been shown to significantly reduce inflammation and relieve pain in the body. These include fruits like pineapple, tart cherries, and papaya, nuts such as almonds and walnuts, and spices including ginger and turmeric. A study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2017) found that curcumin, the principle curcuminoid of turmeric and a member of the ginger family, and piperine supplementation before and after exercise can aid in some aspects of muscle damage.

Related Article: Anti-Inflammatory Foods in Your Diet (and What to Avoid)

3. Foam Rolling

A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training (2015) found that foam rolling significantly improved muscle tenderness by a moderate to large amount for those who experienced DOMS. Use a foam roller to massage your muscles, giving each major muscle group 5 to 10 rolls. Spend extra time on sore spots.

Related Article: Reduce Muscle Fatigue with Foam Rolling


If you experience DOMS, there are three key remedies you can try. Foam rolling, increasing your antioxidants, and applying heat can help significantly with muscle soreness.

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Delecroix, B., Abaidia, A.E., Leduc, C., Dawson, B., and Dupont, G. (2017). “Curcumin and Piperine Supplementation and Recovery Following Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Randomized Controlled Trial”. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 16, 147-153.

Deng, M., Xiaosheng, D., Xuhui, W. Xu, W. Xijin, Z. (2017). “Effects of Suspended Moxibustion on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: A Randomized Controlled Double-Blind Pilot Study.” Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 16, 203-208.

Pearcey, G.E.P., Bradbury-Squires, D.J., Kawamoto, J. Drinkwater, E.J., Behm, D.G., and Button, D.C. 2015. “Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measures.” Journal of Athletic Training, 50 (1), 5-13.

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