by Erin Abrams

In the slumber of winter, our bodies naturally go into a slight "muscular hibernation." We may move slower and our muscles feel more tense and stiff. They are not as challenged than in the warmer months due to less outside activities, which research shows, working outside improves energy levels more inside exercise. Then there is the lack of Vitamin D (a.k.a. the sun); which is essential for keeping muscles strong. This is all topped off with a decrease of light (or shorter days) that invites the body to produce  more melatonin demanding sleep versus activity.  The darker hours also invoke a higher rate of depression affecting our mental motivation. These factors can all contribute to your muscles feeling a little deflated when tackling the spring to-do-list or eagerness to all of a sudden train for a triathlon.

It is healthy that we are motivated to do more in the spring season; but our bodies are just starting to awaken from the "muscular hibernation." Injury is at a strongest point during this transition.  For most, with a strain or muscle soreness, we turned to short-term pharmaceutical pain relief; but several natural remedies can help repair injuries, accelerate healing and build the body stronger.

When the Danish Olympic team tried essential fatty acids and low-dose antioxideants to their athletes, they healed faster and their recover time was shorter allowing them to return to their training. 

Before reaching into the medicine cabinet when you strain a muscle, alternative options can be more effective with shorter recovery times.  Even better, if these are things already in your diet, you are already taking preventive measures to have less injuries. Below is a list of nutrients that will maximize your muscle's ability.


Top sources to reduce inflammation naturally:
Omega-3s -  EPA and DHA are the number one omega-3s to fight inflation and pain.
Curcumin - turmeric-root extract helps block several of the body's inflammation promoting compounds.
Ginger & Rosemary are superb natural anti-inflammatory herbs. These two taken together can complement their healing abilities.


Vitamin C may be one of the most helpful supplements in treating your torn muscle. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is required for tissue growth and repair; and it helps flush the muscle of lactic acid.


Vitamin D (a.k.a. the sun) - helps your body maintain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus and also helps the body absorb calcium, which is important in maintaining bone health and development.

I have always found it peculiar that the only vitamin that is not in breast milk is vitamin D.  To me that is a giant clue that we were NOT designed to swallow vitamin D.  Newborn infants were designed to get this from exposing their skin to natural sunlight --Dr. Mercola

Arnica eases sore muscles and promotes healing in herbal or topical ointment. It is applied to the skin for pain and swelling associated with bruises, aches, and sprains. 


Aloe vera has more than 10 natural substances to ease aches and pains. As a topical, these active ingredients penetrate to relieve sore muscles and joint pain. When ingested, aloe vera can help inhibit the inflammatory response while supporting joint health and mobility. 


Vitamin E - Everyday activities, as well as exercise, can cause the cell membranes of your muscles to tear which can lead to inflammation and muscle soreness. Research shows that Vitamin E is essential for any muscle repair with its antioxidant properties to remove destructive by-products from the body.


Both vitamins B6 and B12 have a direct role in protein metabolism important to keeping muscles strong. Vitamin B6 is needed to support the absorption of vitamin B12. Together, these B vitamins are essential in the production of red blood cells and immune system cells, both of which are invaluable to muscle growth and repair. 


Powdered ginger contains a natural aspirin-like, anti-inflammatory substance called zingibain. According to a study in the The Journal of Pain, consuming just 2 grams of ginger daily alleviated 25 percent of pain from exercise-induced muscle injury.


As the weather warms, all of nature will be bursting out loud with its energy.  Be intoxicated with its beauty and make sure you are in optimal health to enjoy it to the fullest and turn to the healing properties of nature.

 

Please consult with your doctor if any supplements listed in this article are right for a healthier you.
*journal of Physical Therapy in Sport.