For a Cozy Cool
Here’s a great DIY ice pack: Take a regular sponge (not the scrubbing variety), and soak it in a mixture of half water, half rubbing alcohol—or even vodka. Place it in a Ziploc bag and freeze. Since alcohol doesn’t freeze completely, the sponge will stay flexible and comfortably mold around your achy spots. If you want, freeze multiple sponges: When one gets warm, you’ll have a readymade replacement in the freezer.
Drink Up to Stop Stiffness
If you find you’re often stiff after exercising, you probably just need more water. Dehydration is a major cause of post-exercise muscle soreness. Drinking water regularly while you work out should keep water levels high enough to combat pain.
Prep for Workouts with Caffeine
Not only will coffee offer a quick boost in energy and endurance during a workout, it can also prevent pain afterward. Several studies have shown that consuming caffeine an hour before exercising results in less muscle pain and soreness post-workout. Test subjects took a dose of caffeine equal to about two cups of coffee, but even one cup o’ joe can make a difference!
Cherries: An All-Natural Pain-Reliever
To combat muscle pain and inflammation due to exercise, swap the chemical-laden sports drinks for some tart cherry juice. Montmorency cherries are loaded with anti-inflammatory powers—more than any other food! They can be just as effective for pain and swelling relief as ibuprofen and other OTC anti-inflammatories, without damaging your stomach, heart, or kidneys like those drugstore staples. Try one cup of cherry juice or one-and-a-half cups of fresh tart cherries per day.
Just Add Spice
An ancient Indian spice found in curry, turmeric has been used for ages to treat muscle pain and joint inflammation, as well as problems related to digestion, circulation, and skin conditions. To incorporate the spice into your diet, sprinkle some into soups, stews, or rice dishes for all the health benefits plus added flavor.
The Ever-Versatile VapoRub
This beloved menthol cream is a wonderful multi-use drugstore item. Although marketed for its powers of decongestion, VapoRub’s combo of camphor and menthol is ultra soothing for your muscles too. Just rub some ’Rub on your achy parts and let the minty-fresh balm get to work.
Don’t Buy That!
Cold gel packs are wonderful for muscle pain: They’re flexible and conform to the shape of your body, and they’re reusable! But why spend your cash on the drugstore brands when you can just as easily make them yourself? Fill a heavy-duty Ziploc bag with two cups of water and one third of a cup of vodka. Pop it in the freezer, and you’ve got an instant ice pack that will mold to your leg, arm, or back. If you’re not a vodka drinker, use liquid dishwasher detergent instead—just make sure to label the bag with “Do Not Eat!” Money saved: $10-20.
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