Home Remedies for Muscle Aches & Pains

Muscle aches and pains often include more than one muscle and body part. An aching muscle area may also have strained or sprained ligaments, tendons and soft connective tissue. Doctors at the National Institutes of Health report that most muscle aches are due to tension, overuse or injury during physical activity. Medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, lupus and infection also can cause aches and pains in the muscles. There are a number of steps you can take at home to relieve those aching muscles.

Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve muscle pain. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that can help to reduce swelling, while acetaminophen does not. Topical creams or medicated pain relief patchs such as arnica, Bengay, Tiger Balm or Salonpas can be effective in relieving muscles aches. Over-the-counter pain relievers are generally safe for healthy adults with muscle aches and pains, report doctors at the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Rest can provide relief for muscle pain. Continuing to use a strained muscle or tendon may exacerbate the condition and cause further damage. Resting for 48 hours from the activity that caused the pain can decrease the inflammation. Sleep is another vital component of muscle repair. Seven to nine hours of sleep provides the body with the downtime necessary to repair internal damages. Sleep also can reduce stress that is keeping muscles tightened up.

NIH doctors recommend that ice packs or a bag of frozen peas should be placed on the sore muscles for 15 to 20 minutes, three times a day, for the first 24 to 72 hours. Use hot compresses if the area is still sore after that. Ice numbs the pain and reduces the swelling; heat relaxes and soothes the soft tissues.

Aerobic activities that tone the muscles and build up strength, while seeming counterintuitive, can sometimes be the best remedy for muscle aches and pains. Muscles that rest for too long can tighten up even further and eventually atrophy. Low-impact exercises that won't add additional stress on the damaged muscles include cycling, swimming and walking. Muscles often become sore during exercise, and sometimes it is best to keep working through the discomfort to relieve the soreness. Stop the exercise, however, if the pain is sharp and stabbing or if pain persists for more than three days.