Muscular pain (myalgia) and stiffness are a part of life, particularly among those who play sports, lift weights, participate in strength training of any kind, have physically demanding jobs or lead active lifestyles.

Muscular aches and pains can be isolated to just one muscle or sometimes spread across several muscles.

Muscle pain also can involve ligaments, tendons, and fascia, the soft tissues that connect muscles, bones, and organs. Muscle pain is most frequently caused by tension, overuse, or injury resulting from movement.

It can develop anywhere in the body, including neck, arms, legs, upper or lower back, core, chest, shoulders, feet and hands.

The pain generally starts during or just after the activity and can range from mild to excruciating.

Though it often goes away in a few days, sometimes muscle pain can linger for months.

Muscle pain often appears suddenly, resulting from a pulled muscle, strains, sprains, a torn ligament or other type of injury.

Depending on the type and severity of the injury, sudden muscle pain can range from mild to debilitating.

It often results in swelling and tenderness to the touch.

The pain can last for a few days, several weeks or in severe cases, even longer.

Sudden muscle pain often occurs in injury-prone areas such as the lower back or shoulders. Of the two, lower back pain is one of the most common types of pain reported among persons who participate in weight or strength training.

But all muscle pain does not appear suddenly. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is probably the most common type of muscle pain experienced by the majority of people.

DOMS refers to muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness that occurs in the day or two after exercise.

DOMS is generally believed to result from microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers.

The amount of tearing and resulting stiffness and soreness depends on how hard and how long you exercise and what type of exercise you do. DOMS-related pain generally subsides in a few days.

Regardless of whether it is sudden or delayed, muscle pain can be annoying at best and inhibiting or debilitating at worst.

Stretching sometimes help speed muscle recovery from injury. Medical treatment for muscle pain generally involves pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medicines, muscle relaxers and topical painkillers.

While oral medications can be effective for alleviating muscle pain, they sometimes take a long time to work and can cause side effects such as an upset stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, disorientation or nausea.

Topical painkillers are sprayed on or rubbed into the skin over painful muscles or joints. Although are all designed to relieve pain, different products use different ingredients.

Unfortunately, many topical painkillers do little more than mask the pain, providing little or no effective relief.

But thanks to increased interest in homeopathic remedies, researchers have uncovered a number of naturally occurring compounds that show promise for not just alleviating muscle pain, but actually helping to facilitate the healing process.

Here are some of the top ten ingredients showing the greatest promise for topically alleviating muscular aches and pains:

1. Glucosamine Chondroitin Sulfate: Glucosamine is found naturally in the body. It stimulates the formation and repair of articular cartilage. Chondroitin Sulfate is another natural substance found in the body. It prevents other body enzymes from degrading the building blocks of joint cartilage.

Applied topically, Glucosamine Chondroitin Sulfate together support healthy joints, which in turn, reduces the likelihood of muscular injuries. Clinical trials on the use of Glucosamine Chondroitin Sulfate for osteoarthritis have found promising results.

2. Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA): GABA is gaining attention for promoting lean muscle growth, burning fat, stabilizing blood pressure, and relieving muscular aches and pains.

3. Sesame Seed Oil: Due to its extensive health benefits Sesame Seed Oil is increasingly being added to soaps, lotions, creams and moisturizers. Sesame Seed Oil is rich in vitamins including A, B and E and is known to provide instant relief from muscle pain when rubbed into the affected area.

4. Sweet Almond Oil: This oil is known to have analgesic properties, helping to relieve pain and stress from strained muscles. Sweet Almond Oil is also widely used for its ability to help alleviate joint pain. Rubbed into the skin, it also helps enhance circulation, therefore speeding up the delivery of beneficial properties to sore and injured muscles.

5. Avocado Oil: Avocado Oil of course comes from avocados. This oil is increasingly being studied for its ability to alleviate symptoms associated with arthritis and osteoarthritis as well as for its pain relieving qualities. Additionally, as a topical cream, Avocado Oil is prized for its very high skin penetration and rapid absorption rate.

6. Sodium Hyaluronate: Sodium Hyaluronate is very similar to the fluids that surround the body’s joints. These fluids act as lubricants for the joints, helping to keep them moving freely, reducing the likelihood of muscular injuries, sprains and strains.

7. Rosehip Oil: Rosehip Oil is becoming a popular natural treatment for arthritis. Rose hips contain anthocyanins, which are compounds found in plants that have antioxidant properties. They also contain carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lycopene, beta-chryptoxanthin, rubixanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein.

A meta-analysis of three short-term clinical trials involving the same preparation of rose hips concluded that, compared to placebo, rose hips are an effective pain reliever and it reduces the need for other pain medications.

8. Pomegranate Seed Oil: The conjugate fatty acids such as punicic acid present in Pomegranate Seed Oil help to make the body resilient against inflammation, ease muscle pain and reduce swelling. Practitioners are increasingly turning to Pomegranate Seed Oil to relieve pain and inflammation from sore muscles, joint pain & stiffness, strains, sprains, and bruises.

9. Astaxanthin: This compound has gained a lot of attention for its powerful antioxidant qualities as well as its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers are currently exploring how Astaxanthin reduces inflammation with most believing that these properties stem from its antioxidant activities. It has shown to be effective against conditions such as tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, joint and muscle soreness and more.

10. Lycopene: Lycopene is a bright red carotene and carotenoid pigment and phytochemical found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables. It has most often been referred to as helping to prevent certain types of cancer—particularly prostate cancer. Recently though, it has become popular for its analgesic properties, which are reportedly similar to aspirin. Topically, lycopene could help reduce swelling and alleviate muscular aches and pains.

So there you have ten of the most promising natural ingredients effective in helping alleviate and treat the pain and soreness resulting from either sudden muscle pain/injury and delayed onset muscle soreness.

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