Muscle aches and pains are very familiar to many people, particularly those in the athletic community. They can occur for a wide variety of reasons, but most commonly from minor injuries or overuse of the muscles. Although being a little sore isn’t the end of the world, who wouldn’t want an all-natural solution to those annoying little aches and pains?
That’s where magnesium comes in.
Dr. Carolyn Dean touches on the importance of sufficient magnesium intake for athletes in her book, The Magnesium Miracle, saying, “Even though most athletes and coaches don’t know it, magnesium is one of the most important nutrients athletes can possibly take.” (Kindle version, page 2096).
Why Are My Muscles Sore?
There’s a multitude of reasons why you could be experiencing muscle soreness. For some, it is as simple as a lack of sleep! Not getting enough sleep can lead to a host of unpleasant symptoms, muscle soreness being one of them. You need at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night…Are you getting enough? Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule helps your brain remain focused and alert, and helps your cells to stay healthy and happy.
Alternatively, stress could be the reason behind your soreness. When we are continually stressed over long periods of time, it takes a toll on our bodies. Stress weakens the immune system so that when some inflammation occurs, the system is ill-equipped to handle it, and it becomes more painful than it would otherwise be.
Much more likely, however, is that your muscle soreness follows after having physically exerted yourself. We all know the ache of the morning after a good workout… It can be a good feeling because we know we’ve pushed ourselves but is still unpleasant if it hurts every time you stand up. This type of soreness usually occurs as a result of one of these things: muscle tension, muscle overuse, mild muscle injury, or skipping warm-ups and cool downs. It can weaken muscles and decrease your range of motion, and usually happens between 24-48 hours after your workout. Generally, it is a sign that your muscles are adapting to new exercises or increased workout intensity.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Myth: Delayed aches are caused by lactic acid build-up.
Nope! Lactic acid only remains in your muscles for a few hours after your workout, meaning that it is not the culprit of that day-after soreness. The soreness experienced directly after or at the end of a workout could be a result of lactic acid build-up during the workout, however, that is not the case for DOMS. Post-workout soreness is believed to be a result of microscopic attrition to muscle fibres, which creates the stiffness and soreness you feel in the following days. These micro-tears cause an increase in blood flow and inflammation to the area, which makes the area more responsive to movement by stimulating the pain receptors within the muscle tissue.
Other Causes of Muscle Soreness
If however, you have no idea why you’re experiencing pain, muscle and body aches can be a sign of a number of other conditions.
For example, Lyme disease can also cause muscle aches and spasms, among other symptoms.
If you experience muscle soreness that seems unrelated to sleep, stress or exercise, seek medical attention.
While you’re digging to understand the cause of your muscle soreness, consider increasing your magnesium levels.
What Does Magnesium Do to Help?
It’s no secret that magnesium can be a great help in getting you the sleep you need. By lessening the body’s production of adrenaline and cortisol, and increasing GABA levels in the brain, magnesium promotes better sleep in a multidimensional way.
Healthy levels of magnesium can help you achieve a healthy sleep schedule.
The body’s response to stress involves a surge in adrenaline and cortisol, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and sometimes a fight-or-flight reaction. In turn, magnesium supplementation can help alleviate certain symptoms of stress by:
- Reducing the cortisol response and cleansing cortisol from cells
- Keeping excess calcium outside the cells, in order to prevent rigidity, tension, or hyper-excitability of muscle and nerve cells
- Calming the nervous system and relaxing muscles to improve mood
The relationship between magnesium and stress is a two-way street: stress depletes magnesium, but magnesium counteracts stress.
Part of the body’s response to stress involves using up your magnesium stores, so those who are magnesium deficient may experience more of the symptoms of stress.
Overall, magnesium aids in our management of the body’s response to stress not only by playing a role in the prevention of some of the physical factors that can lead to stress but also by helping to reduce the severity of the reaction to stress.
Magnesium taken orally has its own share of benefits, but in cases related to muscles, some customers prefer Natural Calm’s selection of topical options for magnesium absorption. One of the effects of oral magnesium is that it helps many people to stay regular, but if that isn’t a concern for you (or if your bowels are too regular), a balm, spray, or gel may be an option that can meet your individual needs.
Some people take Epsom salt baths to soothe their muscle pain, however, we know that Epsom salts are not as well absorbed as topical magnesium chloride. Another benefit of transdermal magnesium is its easy application, for those on the go! Just apply any one of our three topical magnesium chloride options to the area that is inflamed or in pain. We recommend that athletes keep some in their gym bag, to be used after a workout.
It should also be noted, that before athletes even experience muscle pain, their magnesium can be depleted during intense training sessions, as magnesium in the body is excreted through sweat. Magnesium deficiency in athletes can lead to subpar performance, so it’s best to replenish your magnesium levels post-workout, as part of your workout recovery routine. Applying magnesium topically to the muscles you exerted that day is a fast and effective habit that you can integrate into your post-workout regimen.
As mentioned earlier, most types of relatively short-lived (3-5 days) muscle pains are very common. It’s important that those who simply exercise recreationally to stay fit, as well as athletes, allow themselves the time to rest and replenish.
Above all, when physically pushing yourself, it is paramount that you listen to your body. Do not engage in activities that cause serious pain, and be sure to be careful when beginning a program or exercise that you are unfamiliar with.
And hey, if your body says it needs more magnesium, listen to it then as well!