wikiHow to Cure Muscle Aches

Three Methods:Using PRICE for Localized Muscle AchesMaintaining Good Workout HabitsDealing with Generalized Muscle Aches

Almost everyone experiences muscle aches at some time in their life. Muscle aches can be mild to excruciating and can last for a day to several months. Muscle aches can be localized to specific muscle groups or generalized to your whole body. Most of the time the triggers for each of these situations are different and will require different treatments to reduce the pain and discomfort. What is perceived as a muscle ache can sometimes actually be caused by tendons or ligaments, which are important in the function of joints and connect muscle to bone. Learn the different methods you can use to treat muscle aches and pains in order to reduce your discomfort.

Method 1
Using PRICE for Localized Muscle Aches

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    Understand localized muscle aches and pains. Localized muscle aches and pains can be the result of overuse injuries, overexertion during exercise or sports, poor posture or muscle use, stress or tension or from minor injuries. For the most part, localized muscle aches and pains can be treated using home care strategies to reduce the inflammation and promote healing.
    • In the early stages of muscle aches caused by injury remember to use PRICE: Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate.[1]
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    Protect the area. It is important to protect the affected area from further injury or damage until you can be evaluated by a physician if necessary. This can include not using the affected muscles, using crutches to stay off an injured leg, or bracing or splinting the affected limb if you believe that you may have broken a bone.[2]
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    Rest the muscles and do not engage in any activity that causes pain. This may include changing your movements at work or taking a break from your usual recreational activities. If you feel any pain when you try to move the affected muscle, stop moving it and keep resting. If the pain is sharp, intense, or does not improve, then call your doctor right away.[3]
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    Ice the area to help reduce swelling and pain. Immediately after an injury, applying ice will help the blood vessels to narrow and restrict bleeding. Icing the area will also reduce the amount of black and blue bruising that you will experience.[4]
    • Ice the area for 10 to 20 minutes several times a day.
    • Allow at least 60 minutes between icing to allow the skin and underlying tissues to return to a normal temperature.
    • Use a pack that conforms to your body, such as a chemical ice pack, bag of frozen peas or reusable ice pack from the pharmacy.
    • Wrap the ice pack in a towel before using it. Don’t apply the ice pack directly to your skin.
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    Compress the area using an elastic bandage. It also helps to prevent excess accumulation of inflammatory fluid in the tissue, which results in painful swelling. Elastic bandages help to protect the affected muscle from further damage while also providing support to the area. Use an ACE wrap elastic bandage from the pharmacy.[5]
    • Do not wrap the affected area too tightly because it can restrict blood flow to the area, increase pain or discomfort, and increase healing time.
    • Wrap the painful area tightly enough so that the bandage supports the area while still allowing for movement.
    • Start by wrapping the area of the body that is furthest from the heart and wrapping in toward the body. For example, if you injured your forearm, then you would want to start wrapping near the wrist and then wrap towards your elbow.
    • Each time you wrap the bandage around, make sure that you overlap the ACE wrap by ½ of the previous layer. Don’t leave any gaps in the wrapping.[6]
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    Elevate the area. It is also important to elevate your injured area to help the body reduce the swelling from the injury. Place the leg or arm that is injured on a pillow or other supported area that is above the level of your heart. Do this several times per day.[7]
    • If possible, elevate the area while you sleep as well by using pillows placed above the level of the heart.

Method 2
Maintaining Good Workout Habits

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    Stretch before your workout. Stretching before, during or after exercise does not appear to reduce overall muscle soreness or aches following exercise.[8][9] However, stretching and improved flexibility does reduce the potential for injury which causes aches.[10] Stretch large muscle groups prior to any sporting event or recreational activity as a part of your warmup routine. Stretching can also be done during your cool down period.
    • Although there is some controversy about how long stretches should be held, 20 to 30 seconds is adequate to stretch the muscle group and improve flexibility.
    • Gently stretch before each workout and during your cool down period.
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    Warm up before you start working out. Warm up before exercises to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness in the following day or two. This is especially important before engaging in any new exercises.[11] Warm up using the same muscle groups you’ll be using in your workout. For instance, if you are biking you can bike more slowly for 10 minutes. If you are running you may walk briskly for 5 to 10 minutes prior to your workout. In other words, your warm up can use the same exercise but at a slower pace.
    • Warming up increases your core body temperature, increases the blood supply to the muscles you’ll be using, and increases the flexibility in your muscles.[12]
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    Cool down after your workout. Cooling down incorporates the same concepts. Use the same muscles you were just working hard, but at a slower pace until your heart slows. However, you can also use walking to cool down from almost any other activity you were doing as well. Use a slower pace to cool down for 3 - 10 minutes, depending upon how quickly your heart rate slows.
    • Research does not support the idea that cooling down after a hard workout will reduce soreness or muscle aches.[13] But cooling down does have other benefits, such as providing time for your heart rate to go down to a normal level, allowing time for the adrenalin in your blood to reduce to a normal level.
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    Consider taking taurine. Take up to 3,000 mg of Taurine a day after a strenuous workout to help alleviate the soreness and aches associated with exercise.[14][15][16] Taurine is found in abundance in the human body but can be depleted during exercise. Taking it post-workout can help improve muscle regeneration and healing,thus also reducing delayed onset muscle soreness.
    • Check with your doctor before incorporating taurine into your supplement regimen, especially if you are taking any prescription medications.
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    Follow your workout with a whey protein shake. What you eat after a workout can affect your level of muscle soreness in the following days. Whey protein has been found to decrease muscle soreness when taken within 30 minutes after a workout. A whey protein shake may also help when taken the next day as well.[17]
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    Eat a bowl of cherries. Including tart cherries or cherry extract in your daily diet may help to reduce inflammation, muscle aches, and soreness.[18] Tart cherries have the highest amount of anthocyanins, making them the best food choice for relieving muscle aches and pains. Try eating a bowl of tart cherries after a workout to help decrease delayed onset muscle soreness.
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    Take omega-3 supplements or eat omega-3 rich foods. Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory in nature and therefore are great additions to any diet, but they can be especially beneficial after a strenuous workout.[19]
    • You can use Omega-3 supplements or increase the foods you eat which are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Some of these foods are salmon, trout, herring, sardines, flaxseed and walnuts.

Method 3
Dealing with Generalized Muscle Aches

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    Reduce a fever. When you get a fever, it is often accompanied by generalized muscle aches and pains.[20] To cure these muscle aches, you must also get rid of the fever. It is also important to note that a fever is your body’s response to infection and other systematic disorders such as autoimmune diseases, cancers, etc. To fight an infection, your immune system goes into high gear to fight off bacteria, viruses, or other invaders.
    • To reduce a fever, you can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen, based on your age and body weight. However, to cure the muscle aches you must address the source of the infection and therefore the reason for the fever. This may require a visit to your doctor.
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    Consider your medications. Some medications can cause generalized feelings of achiness over the body as part of the medication’s side effects. These are usually very severe whole-body aches, and can be accompanied by other serious problems, such as liver failure. These medications include ACE inhibitors used to reduce blood pressure and statin drugs used to reduce cholesterol levels.[21]
    • To cure muscle aches caused by a medication, you should speak with your doctor about switching to a different medication.
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    Check for underlying conditions. Some underlying medical conditions will cause muscle aches, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, and lyme disease.[22] See your doctor to determine if an underlying condition may be causing your muscle aches.
    • To cure the muscle aches from these conditions you must first treat the underlying medical condition. Without specifically addressing the treatment for the medical condition you cannot effect a change in the muscle pain.
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    Address electrolyte imbalances. Electrolyte imbalances can trigger muscle cramps and twitching, which can lead to micro-tears in the muscle, the resulting symptoms include muscle aches and pains.[23] Electrolyte imbalances can result from dehydration and may also be the result of taking electrolyte supplements.[24]
    • Drink when you are thirsty, and if you are doing strenuous activity causing you to sweat, you need to stop at least once every 45 min to get water.
    • Pay attention to the color of your urine. Your urine should be light yellow in color. If it is darker than this, then that is a sign that you are becoming dehydrated. If your urine is clear, then you are over hydrated.
    • Electrolyte-rich sports drinks can be good after profuse amounts of sweating or other fluid loss such as diarrhea or vomiting, but they do contain a lot of sugar and therefore their consumption should be moderated in everyday situations.
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    Recognize when you should see a physician for muscle aches. Although muscle aches are normally something you can deal with at home, sometimes muscle aches require immediate medical attention.[25] Call your doctor right away if:
    • Your pain lasts more than 3 months without any apparent cause.
    • You were injured and have recovered but the muscle aches and pains remain.
    • You are feeling down and blue, sad or depressed, because of the chronic aches and pains you are experiencing, as this may be a sign of depression.
    • You can’t sleep because of the pain.
    • If you have pain in your legs that resolves when you stop exercising.[26]
    • If you have muscle aches and pains after starting a new medication, especially statins, you must call your physician.


  • Seek medical attention immediately for muscle pain that is accompanied by dizziness, severe muscle weakness or difficulty breathing.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if the muscle pain occurs with vomiting, high fever and a stiff neck.
  • See a doctor if muscle pain persists for longer than 3 days. A doctor should evaluate muscle pain that is severe and occurs without explanation. Muscle pain accompanied with redness or swelling may be a sign of infection and a physician should evaluate you. Schedule a doctor's visit for muscle pain accompanied by an insect bite or a rash.

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Categories: Pain Management and Recovery