Have you ever felt an involuntary tightness, hardness, or bulging in a muscle? That’s called a muscle spasm. This type of cramping can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons and in many areas of your body.
Spasms are common in the abdomen, arms, hands, and feet. You can also feel them in your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps, and along the rib cage. Many cases of simple muscle spasms are caused by heavy exercise and vigorous sport. Patience, rest, gentle stretching, and massaging the muscle can help alleviate the pain.
People with acute neck and back pain often suffer from muscle spasms. Pregnant women are also prone to muscle spasms because of the sudden increase in weight.
Menstruating women experience muscle cramps due to uterine contractions, though the severity of the pain varies by person. Muscle spasms are a common side effect of chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and McArdle’s disease.
While muscle spasms can be painful, relief is available with these seven natural muscle relaxers.
Chamomile is an ancient herb that’s used to treat a variety of ailments, including muscle spasms. It contains 36 flavonoids, which are compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. You can massage chamomile essential oil onto affected muscles to provide relief from spasms. Chamomile tea can also help relax sore muscles.
2. Cherry juice.
People who sign up for marathons train vigorously, often causing a lot of stress on their muscles. Cherry juice can help combat the inflammation and muscle pain that is so common in runners. Studies reveal that drinking tart cherry juice can minimize post-run pain. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities in the fruit help to relax muscles naturally.
3. Blueberry smoothies.
Another sweet and natural way to relax your muscles is by eating blueberries. A recent study suggests that having a blueberry smoothie before and after exercise can help accelerate recovery from muscle damage. Blueberries have antioxidant powers and have been shown to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.
4. Cayenne pepper.
Capsaicin, a substance found in cayenne pepper, is a natural muscle relaxant that’s often recommended to people who live with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. It can be added to food, like in this grilled shrimp with lime cream recipe, or you can find cayenne pepper in capsule form and as a cream. When used as a cream, you can apply it to areas affected by muscle spasms.
5. Vitamin D.
People who have regular muscle pain or spasms might be deficient in vitamin D. This vitamin comes in many forms, including liquids, tablets, and capsules. You can also get it in foods like eggs, fish, and fortified milk. Getting regular exposure to sunlight is another way to get vitamin D!
Magnesium is vital for human nutrition, as it maintains normal muscle and nerve function. Although it’s rare, early symptoms in people who are deficient in this mineral include muscle pain. This mineral is mostly found in foods such as bananas, almonds, legumes, and brown rice. It’s also available as a supplement.
Perhaps the best and most natural way to relax your muscles is to rest. Make sure to get lots of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, and try not to overwork the affected muscle. Using heat pads or ice packs on the muscle can provide immediate relief. Sometimes muscle spasms are due to over-stimulated muscles, and ice can help calm down the transmission of impulses from the brain to the overactive muscle.
Adequate protein intake after exercise could help reduce muscle inflammation.
A review looking at exercise-induced muscle damage in women found that supplementing with whey and casein, two types of protein, reduced muscle damage.
Another small study looked at 16 novice marathon runners. Runners who received a combination of protein and carbohydrate during the race felt less muscle soreness 72 hours after the marathon than those who had consumed carbohydrate only.
Turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger all contain curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Some research has shown that curcumin may decrease inflammatory markers after exercise.Taking a curcumin supplement or incorporating turmeric, cinnamon, or ginger into a healthful diet may help relax the muscles.
Women who are breastfeeding or pregnant should avoid consuming too much curcumin.
10. Pomegranate juice.
Pomegranates contain large amounts of polyphenols. The antioxidant capacity of their juice is potentially three times higher than that of green tea.
One study on elite weightlifters found that pomegranate juice may help speed up muscle recovery.
11. Peppermint oil.
Peppermint oil is a popular home remedy for muscle pain. The authors of a 2018 review suggest that taking peppermint orally may effectively relieve pain.
There is also some evidence to support the topical use of peppermint oil for sprains, as it may provide a cooling effect, pain relief, and muscular relaxation.
Peppermint oil is unsuitable for some people, including those with problems affecting the bile duct, liver, or gallbladder.
A deep tissue massage from a qualified massage therapist is a great way to relieve tense muscles.
The massage should be firm but not painful. If a person is experiencing muscle spasms, they should see a physiotherapist who can help determine the underlying problem.
Summer Fanous (2019-03-11), “The 7 Best Natural Muscle Relaxers”, www.healthline.com
Cathleen Crichton-Stuart (2018-10-19), “12 natural muscle relaxers”, www.medicalnewstoday.com