Easy ways to avoid muscle pain

If aching, annoying muscle pain is part of your life, take solace. There are things you can do to relief the aches and here are just a few.

Easy ways to avoid muscle pain

1. Take a walk—and swing your arms

Experts have a name for the general hurt you feel the day after you overexert yourself: delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. It turns out that if you were a little overzealous playing, working, exercising, or even gardening, the best remedy the day after is to get moving again. Staying active works the painful chemical by-products of overexertion out of your muscle tissue and keeps muscle fibres flexible so they can't tighten up and stay sore longer. Light exercise helps sore muscles heal so you'll have less pain next time.

2. Muscle cramps? Fight 'em with this breakfast bowlful

Low levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium — which act as message-carrying electrolytes in your body — can raise your odds of having sudden, painful muscle cramps. Get more of all three important minerals by spooning up some whole-grain cereal with milk and sliced banana at breakfast and by taking a multivitamin. And drink plenty of water throughout the day, since cramping can also be a sign of dehydration.

3. Check your “D” supply

A vitamin D deficiency can cause muscle weakness, aches, pains, and even balance problems. Skin produces D in the presence of sunlight, but older skin makes less — and virtually everyone (of any age) living north of an imaginary line running between Baltimore and San Francisco can't get enough from sunshine, anyway — the rays are too weak. Older people need at least 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D per day, and some experts say 1,000 IU would be even smarter. You can't get that much every day from food, so add up the amount in your multi and take a supplement to cover any shortfall.

4. Listen to your body

Never push through pain or fatigue. The truth is, tired, stressed muscles are injury prone. Pay attention when your arms or legs feel fatigued or your back feels tight. These are signs that it's time to rest and relax. Pushing too hard could lead to cramps and pulled muscles.

5. Treat yourself to a rubdown

Try this on a warm muscle a few days after an injury: Rub the length of the muscle, moving from the point farthest from your heart toward the point closest to your heart. Research shows that post-exercise and post-injury massage can reduce pain and speed healing. It can reduce inflammation, too.

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