We are all sensitive to sore, stiff muscles – especially when it's colder, because low temperatures cause muscles to lose heat and contract, making them susceptible to injuries while moving.
Exercise can cause minor injuries to your muscle fibers that cause inflammation and make them feel sore a day later.
"Muscle aches and stiffness after exercise that disappears after a week show that your muscles are working and getting stronger," says Sammy Margo, a physiotherapist in London.
So what can you do to relieve the pain in the meantime?
We asked Sammy to review a number of products that are said to help; we then assessed them.
WESTLAB RESTORES BATHING SALTS
£ 7.99 for 1 kg, westlabsalts.co.uk
Claim: A mixture of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), extract of white willow bark, arnica and essential oils. Add two to three handfuls to a warm bath to soothe tired, sore muscles.
EXPERTLY VERDICT: "A bath with Epsom salt has been used for centuries to soothe sore muscles. The idea is that a warm bath in this helps your body to absorb the magnesium and sulfates needed for relaxed muscles and healthy joints. However, there are no indications that Epsom salts can relieve pain.
White willow bark was found to reduce back pain and arnica is used as a herbal treatment for bruises and inflammations – but again, there is no evidence that these ingredients are useful in a bath. & # 39;
SALONPAS PAIN AID
CLAIM: "For pain relief of muscles and joints, sprains, back pain and bruises," these are covered with menthol – which is said to act as a topical painkiller – and methyl salicylate, a chemical similar to aspirin that helps reduce inflammation.
Apply one of these patches to sore muscles or joints; the ingredients are said to be absorbed through the skin to relieve discomfort for eight to 12 hours.
EXPERT VERDICT: "This is a convenient way to relieve daily neck, shoulder and back pain caused by muscle aches. The proven analgesic and anti-inflammatory ingredients are released slowly at the site of pain for up to 12 hours.
& # 39; They smell strongly of menthol, so people may prefer to use them & # 39; at night. But they should only be used with the advice of a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking medication, because the active ingredients may interact with other treatments. & # 39;
£ 5.26 for five plasters, boots.com
£ 29.99 for 30 capsules, hollandandbarrett.com
Claim: An extract of French maritime pine bark with proanthocyanidins (plant pigments with antioxidant properties), organic acids and other biologically active components.
A study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness discovered that recreational athletes who took a daily supplement of 100-150 g pycnogenol reported reduced muscle pain and cramps due to the ability to improve blood flow to muscles and prevent free radical damage. to control.
EXPERTLY VERDICT: "There is research suggesting that a daily pycnogenol supplement can help protect muscle fibers against the increase in free radicals that can occur immediately after exercise.
& # 39; However, more studies are needed to show that this supplement can reduce muscle pain and cramps. & # 39;
BEENAX PEANUT MASSAGE BALL
£ 8.90, amazon.co.uk
Claim: A peanut-shaped rubber ball "specially designed to release tight and uncomfortable muscles."
Place the ball on a firm surface and roll your hand, foot, back, shoulder, neck, leg or arm over it to massage & # 39; and relax sore muscles.
EXPERTLY VERDICT: "I have been recommending massage balls to my customers for years, but this double ball is new to me – and I am impressed. The peanut shape means that it is more stable than some massage balls, which tend to roll around when you lean or lie on it.
& # 39; Rolling sore muscles over this ball can relax any muscle contraction and stimulate blood and lymph circulation – allowing damaged muscles to heal more efficiently.
"You need a basic level of flexibility and strength to be able to use it – but if you're relatively fit, it's a great, affordable do-it-yourself massage tool to loosen tight muscles and knots."
DEEP FREEZE PAIN RELIEF GLIDE-ON GEL
£ 4.99 for 50 ml, superdrug.com
Claim: The active ingredient in this roll-on gel, levomenthol, is a mint compound that has a cooling effect that is said to constrict capillaries in the skin, reducing blood circulation and inflammation. The cold feeling can also dampen pain signals from the area that is sent to the brain, alleviating the discomfort of minor aches and strains for up to an hour after application.
EXPERTLY VERDICT: "Applying something cold to sore muscles and joints – especially in the first 36 hours after an injury – helps reduce inflammation and pain. This is a handy, portable product for the treatment of minor strains and sprains and for the resolution of muscle and joint pains.
"If you apply a generous layer, it cools the skin as well as a bag of frozen peas."
THERAGUN LIV MASSAGER
Claim: A hand-held electric massage gun designed to deliver a fast, percussive massage to loosen tight muscles, soften muscle spasms and stimulate blood circulation. Rechargeable – each charge gives approximately 45 minutes of use – it is ideal for athletes and enthusiastic athletes. Slightly move the gun over the affected area. Comes with two massage heads: a sturdy, a soft one.
EXPERTLY VERDICT: "Percussive massage techniques – (a series of fast, sharp" strokes ") – have been used for years to soothe tight muscles. This gadget provides a very firm and controlled deep tissue massage that helps muscle fibers relax and will definitely help relieve pain.
"It's great for fleshy areas and can be used every day for 30 to 30 minutes. However, I would not recommend it for someone who is weak or with osteoporosis. & # 39;
£ 229, theragun.com
TANSOZER GUA SHA MASSAGE TOOL
Claim: The edge of this smooth, stainless steel tool is designed to be pulled firmly over the skin with long, continuous movements – an ancient Chinese skin-scraping technique called Gua Sha that helps relax tight, sore muscles and reduce inflammation.
EXPERTLY VERDICT: "There is no scientific evidence that Gua Sha works – but you can certainly use this tool to perform a highly efficient self-massage. By firmly pulling the flat edge along the skin in long strokes – working towards the heart – blood circulation will be stimulated and fluid retention will be reduced, the flow of nutrients around tight muscles will be stimulated and muscle tissue recovery will be accelerated.
"The shape is ideal for working around difficult areas such as elbows, knees and hands."
£ 26.99, amazon.co.uk
SIS REGO CHERRY JUICE
£ 1.75 for a 30 g bag, scienceinsport.com
Claim: Research links cherry juice – rich in anthocyanins, flavonoids and melatonin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties – to reduced muscle pain, delayed inflammation and improved sleep. Mix a bag in cold water and drink for two to three days after exercise to promote muscle recovery.
EXPERTISE: "There is no doubt that this type of cherry juice offers high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, but most of the research into muscle-softening effects appears to be funded by cherry producers.
"Although these bags are a quick and easy way to take protective antioxidants – which in theory will help with muscle recovery – more research is needed to prove conclusively that they work. It is also quite expensive. & # 39;
GOSEAR ELECTRONIC "ACUPUNCTURE" PEN
Claim: A battery-operated, pen-like device that emits an electrical current through its metal tip that relieves muscle and joint pain. Apply a thin layer of gel that is included on the area to be treated, turn the pen on and gently press it around the painful joint or muscle.
EXPERTLY VERDICT: "I didn't expect much from this, but it delivers a surprisingly powerful electrical charge. It works as an extremely precise TENS machine (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), which sends small electrical pulses into the skin that can help to divert and reduce pain signals to the brain.
Elektrische The electrical signals can also cause the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. Not everyone will notice that this works for them – if this is the case, it can be useful for pain in bony areas such as the knees, ankles, feet and hands. & # 39;
£ 14.99, amazon.co.uk
. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) health (t) London