How to Manage Muscle Pain

Once you're feeling the pain, apply a cold compress for the first day or two, use an Ace bandage if there's swelling, and take ibuprofen (if it's too tough on your stomach, try acetaminophen).

By Michael F. Roizen | MD from Reader's Digest

The Emergency Physician Once you’re feeling the pain, apply a cold compress for the first day or two, use an Ace bandage if there’s swelling, and take ibuprofen (if it’s too tough on your stomach, try acetaminophen). Give your aching muscles a rest for a few days too. The pain may get worse before it gets better, but if you’re still hurting after three or four days, see a doctor. It could be a more serious injury. – James F. Giglio, MD Chief of Emergency Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York

The Alternative Medicine Doc Improving lymphatic flow will help prevent muscle soreness. Foods rich in bioflavonoids, such as green, leafy vegetables and green tea, can help, as can staying hydrated (drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day). Increasing your flexibility with yoga and stretching exercises will also help. – Gerald Lemole, MD Director, Center for Integrative Health, Christiana Care, Wilmington, Delaware

The Acupuncturist An acupuncturist will try to bring blood flow to the area to relieve the pain. He may do this with acupuncture, electrical stimulation, topical herbs or even acupressure. These techniques can cut the pain and soreness in half. – Daniel N. Hsu, LAC, DA New York

The Rolfer Rolfing is a form of deep connective tissue manipulation, so we work on the muscles and the tissues connecting them. It’s often used to treat chronic pain but may also help with soreness after exercise, especially if your regular workout routine includes repetitive motions (riding a bike, running). Both massage and Rolfing can help ease the ache by stimulating circulation to the muscles. – Ron Spechler, Certified Rolfer Bergen County, New Jersey

Bottom Line Gently stretch a sore muscle. Though tender at first, it will relax the tension so the rest of the day is more comfortable. Plus, you prevent injury from inadvertently pulling a tight muscle as you lunge to answer the phone. Take ibuprofen or aspirin right after a workout that might cause soreness, to prevent inflammation that leads to pain.