We have all experienced muscle pain and tension at some point. Muscular tension can cause severe discomfort and irritability, making even the smallest of tasks look like a huge chore.
When confronted with this problem, most people will silently pop pills or just resign themselves to being in pain.
What if we told you that there’s actually a way out of this hole that does not involve ingesting any synthetic substances? Natural muscle relaxers can provide relief and may already be readily available in your home.
We have 10 home remedies to share with you that will make persistent muscle stiffness, pain, and spasms nothing more than an unpleasant memory.
When Should Muscle Relaxers Be Used?
Muscle relaxers are powerful compounds used to reduce muscle tone and relax tight and tense muscles. Natural muscle relaxers, over-the-counter drugs, and prescription medications are all used to treat muscle pain and spasms.
This is one of the most common reasons many people use muscle relaxers. Muscular pain due to rigorous workouts or training rarely warrant the use of muscle relaxers, but sometimes it can get a little uncomfortable for people with low thresholds for pain.
In that case, a natural muscle relaxer is the best way to alleviate those symptoms. Some people suffer from chronic pain conditions such as neck pain, lower back pain, joint pain, and nerve pain, among others.
These are much harder to treat and require a combination of prescription drugs and a natural muscle relaxer to help manage and combat the pain.
Muscle spasms, also called muscle cramps, are involuntary contractions in a muscle. Spasms can affect any muscle in the human body. They are typically caused by overuse, dehydration, fatigue, or abnormal electrolyte composition.
Spasms can also occur due to problems with the nervous system. Although these spasms are just short bursts, they occur suddenly and can be extremely painful even to people who have a high pain tolerance.
Those prone to frequent muscle spasms may use a natural muscle relaxer to relieve the tension in the muscles and stop the painful contractions.
People suffering from either of the above two conditions and who are also afflicted with liver, kidney, or heart diseases cannot take any traditional opioid or painkillers.
However, they can safely take muscle relaxants to help with pain management. Muscle relaxants can also help with recovery from injuries and muscle pulls.
10 Natural Muscle Relaxers
Opting for a natural muscle relaxer is always recommended as negative side effects rarely occur. While they may not be as effective as prescription drugs, they don't put your body at risk.
Some of the best natural muscle relaxers to incorporate into your daily life are listed below.
1. Epsom Salts
A favorite of many athletes, warm Epsom salt baths are proven to help relax stiff muscles and joints and to relieve muscular pain. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. The theory is that, when dissolved in water, these mineral compounds permeate through the skin and go directly to your muscles.
Magnesium is a mineral that is required for muscle relaxation. As it gets absorbed by the muscles directly instead of going through your digestive system, you experience instant relief from pain. It is recommended that you soak your body in a warm Epsom salt bath for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
Peppermint contains menthol as its active ingredient and offers anti-spasmodic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory benefits. This helps in dealing with sore muscles, aches, and spasms.
Peppermint also increases the rate of blood circulation, increasing the flow of blood to the affected muscles so they can recover quickly. You can either use the peppermint to make tea, or you can apply it topically.
To make peppermint tea, steep a few peppermint leaves in hot water for 10 minutes and drink a few cups of it every day. Alternatively, you can make a massage oil by diluting a few drops of the essential oil with a suitable carrier oil and massage it topically on the affected area.
3. Cayenne Pepper
Capsaicin is the primary compound found in cayenne pepper and it works wonderfully as a muscle relaxant. Its analgesic properties reduce stiffness in the muscles. Cayenne pepper also shuts off the brain’s pain transmitters, offering temporary relief from pain.
You can make an ointment by adding a teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to 2 tablespoons of warm extra-virgin olive oil. Apply this ointment on the affected muscles, leave it on for around 30 minutes, and then wash it off. Keep the cayenne pepper ointment away from broken or cracked skin and open wounds.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that helps with muscular strength, function, and stability in the posture. If your muscles are weak or functioning poorly, it can lead to pain and tension.
According to research, almost 93% of the people who have a vitamin D deficiency suffer from muscle pain, cramps, and soreness. Therefore, getting adequate levels of vitamin D, either by soaking up the sun or taking supplements, can help relax your muscles.
It is best if you get around 15 to 20 minutes of direct-to-skin sun exposure every day, preferably in the early hours of the morning or later in the afternoon.
Chamomile is a flower widely known for its calming and soothing effects due to the presence of 36 flavonoids. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea every single day can fight against inflammation and act as a natural muscle relaxer.
Chamomile tea is potent and can cause sleepiness in many people, so drink it at night before bed. To make the tea, boil dried chamomile flowers in a pot of water for around 10 minutes. Filter the suffused liquid out and drink it regularly.a
6. Tart Cherries
According to a study published in 2010 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, drinking tart cherry juice a week before any intense activity helped reduce post-run muscle aches and tension.
This is because tart cherries are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that help relax your muscles. Therefore, drink a cup of tart cherry juice daily or at least 3 to 4 times a week for best results.
7. Arnica Oil
Arnica oil contains the compound thymol and is an effective vasodilator of blood capillaries. The oil dilates the blood vessels so that more blood can flow through the affected muscle and speed up the recovery process.
Arnica oil is a potent remedy for exercise-related injuries and muscle damage as it stimulates the flow of white blood cells. Dilute it with a carrier oil and then massage it into the affected area.
8. Cannabis Oil
We know what you’re thinking; cannabis oil will neither make you high nor is it illegal. The oil is stripped off of the THC compound.
Cannabis oil can reduce pain, chronic inflammation, relieve anxiety, and improve sleep. These factors combine to relax your muscles and loosen stiff joints. The oil can cause you to feel sleepy, therefore it is best taken at night.
9. Valerian Root
Valerian root is a powerful sleep aid and a natural muscle relaxer. Valerian oil can ease the tension and stiffness in the muscles and can even help treat sciatic pain, caused by a chronic muscle spasm.
It can be consumed as a tea by boiling a teaspoon of dried valerian root in a pot of boiling water. Alternatively, you can take half a teaspoon of valerian liquid extract orally. Pregnant and nursing women should not use this remedy as it can interfere with their bodily functions.
10. Lavender Oil
Apart from being a fragrant flower, lavender can also relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation. The soothing scent induces calmness. You can either use lavender essential oil combined with a carrier oil to massage the affected muscle, or you can take a hot bath with a few drops of the oil added to the water.
A hot bath opens the pores on your skin and allows the oil to permeate into the muscles. You can do this daily
When to See a Professional
If none of these natural muscle relaxer remedies seem to make much difference in your condition, or if the cramps and spasms only seem to progress in severity, it’s best to consult a health care professional immediately.
It could be a sign of disease or something more serious. Low blood supply to the muscles can cause regular spasms and chronic pain that seem to never go away or reduce in intensity.
This condition can be due to spinal nerve compression and needs to be examined by a medical professional. Also, if you notice any swelling, redness, or skin discoloration, see your doctor.
To get quick and maximum relief from muscle pain, tension, and cramps, combine a natural muscle relaxer with physical release methods such as chiropractic adjustments, deep tissue massages, trigger point therapies, foam rolling, and even physical therapy.
When done properly and consistently, you can achieve long-lasting muscle relaxation. Besides that, taking preventative measures such as fixing your posture, drinking plenty of water, and controlling your stress can go a long way in preventing muscle pain.
The next time you experience muscle pain or spasms, see what you have readily available in your cabinets. A trip to the drug store or doctor's office may not be necessary. If natural home remedies are not providing results, contact a medical professional.