A muscle strain, or pulled muscle, is a painful injury that is caused when the ligament tissue that connects two or more bones gets injured. While a muscle strain is generally not serious, it can be problematic when it hampers daily activity.
This type of injury can occur due to a variety of causes, including exercise, accidental injury, lack of blood flow, dehydration and lack of minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Muscle strain can cause swelling, soreness, stiffness and intense pain. Often, the person cannot use the affected muscle for a few days. It can happen to anyone irrespective of age and gender.
The quickest and easiest way to heal a pulled muscle is to apply an ice pack on the affected area immediately. The cold will constrict the blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the affected area. This in turn helps reduce inflammation and swelling as well as pain.
- Wrap a handful of ice cubes in a thin towel.
- Apply the ice pack to the torn or strained muscle.
- Do this for about 15 minutes.
- Repeat the process every two hours for the first 24 to 72 hours, depending upon your recovery rate.
Note: If you have vascular disease or diabetes, consult your doctor before applying ice.
2. Elastic Bandage
You can speed up the healing process of a pulled muscle with the help of an elastic bandage. The bandage will help reduce the amount of stress placed on the muscle, which in turn will alleviate swelling and pain.
- Buy an elastic bandage from the market.
- Gently wrap the bandage around the affected area. Do not wrap it too tightly or it may interfere with circulation. Loosen the wrap if the pain increases or there is swelling on either side of the wrapped area.
- Keep the area wrapped for at least 72 hours or until the swelling and soreness is gone completely.
This remedy is more effective when combined with ice therapy. Also, try to keep the affected area in an elevated position to reduce blood flow to the area.
3. Warm Compress
Applying a warm compress (after the first 24 hours) is another effective way to get relief from a pulled muscle. A warm compress helps relax the muscle, which decreases muscle spasms and stiffness in the ligaments and tendons. This in turn leads to reduced swelling and inflammation.
- Soak a towel in hot water. Squeeze out the excess water.
- Put the warm, moist towel over the affected area for 10 minutes at a time.
- Repeat the process several times a day for two to three days.
A warm shower or bath will also help a lot to relax the pulled muscle.
Note: Avoid using a heating pad as dry heat can aggravate the pain.
4. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt can effectively ease muscular aches and pains. Epsom salts are made up of magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant that helps pull excess fluid out of the tissues, reducing swelling and pain.
- Add two cups of Epsom salt to warm bath water.
- Soak the affected part of your body in the water for half an hour.
- Dry the area with a towel and wrap it with an elastic bandage.
- Do this once daily for a few days until the strained muscle is healed completely.
Note: Epson salt remedies are not recommended for those suffering from heart problems, high blood pressure or diabetes.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can also be used for treating sore muscles and leg cramps. The anti-inflammatory and alkalizing properties of apple cider vinegar help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Add two cups of apple cider vinegar to a bathtub of hot water. Soak the affected area in the water for half an hour. Do this once daily for a few days until you recover completely.
- Alternatively, drink a glass of warm water mixed with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and some honey once daily for a week.
6. Black Strap Molasses
Black strap molasses is a good source of potassium and calcium. Both of these nutrients are needed for maintaining strong bones, joints and muscles. It is also a good source of iron that is needed for energy and metabolism.
- Mix one-fourth cup of black strap molasses with one-half cup each of apple cider vinegar and honey. Add one and one-half teaspoons of ginger paste.
- Add sufficient water to the mixture to make about half a gallon of this drink and then refrigerate it.
- Drink it twice daily for a week to treat muscle strain.
7. Clove Oil
Clove oil has powerful anesthetic properties, which will help alleviate pain associated with muscle strains. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce pain and swelling.
- Heat one to two tablespoons of clove oil, and allow it to cool for some time.
- Apply the oil over the affected muscles.
- Gently massage the area for a few minutes.
- Do this two or three times daily for a few days.
This will soothe muscle aches and pains by increasing the blood flow in the affected area.
Garlic has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, making it very effective for treating strained muscles. To get relief from the inflammation, massage the affected area with garlic oil that you can make at home.
- On low heat, brown 10 cloves of garlic in two tablespoons of coconut or sesame oil. Strain the garlic cloves away and keep the oil in a bowl.
- Apply a generous amount of the garlic oil to the affected area. Gently massage the oil into the skin.
- Leave the oil on the skin for three to four hours.
- Wash it off with a mild soap and lukewarm water.
- Then take a warm bath to increase the effects of the garlic oil.
- Do this once daily until you recover completely.
9. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. When applied topically, capsaicin produces a warming sensation and reduces pain from muscle strains.
- Mix one-half teaspoon each of cayenne pepper powder and lukewarm olive oil.
- Apply it over the sore muscle.
- Follow this simple remedy twice daily for about a week for compete recovery.
You can also sprinkle crushed cayenne pepper flakes over your food for additional anti-inflammatory effects to aid faster recovery.
Along with this, eat two or three raw garlic cloves daily.
10. Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherries have antioxidants that may help reduce swelling and pain associated with a strained muscle. According to an Oregon Health & Science University study, tart cherries have a high amount of anti-inflammatory content that can help deal with strained muscle pain.
Try to drink one glass of tart cherry juice daily for a week. This will help increase muscle strength, which in turn will reduce soreness and pain.
Tart cherries are available in fresh or frozen form. If you are buying readymade juice, opt for one that is 100% tart cherry juice to avoid extra sugar and preservatives.