Fix Your. . . Muscle Aches, Naturally

WHY YOU HAVE MUSCLE ACHES Risk factors: Leading an active life reduces stress, raises energy levels, and helps prevent heart disease. In fact, May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, which trumpets the benefits of a sound mind and body. But there can also be a downside to taking advantage of May’s warm days to hike or jog. If you’ve been a couch potato all winter, you may become a victim of delayed muscle onset soreness (DOMS). This condition can result from

activity that puts unaccustomed loads on muscles. DOMS is different from acute soreness, which occurs while engaging in vigorous activity. It develops a day or two later, and

is caused by microscopic tears in the muscles which, when combined with inflammation, are the source of the pain. Additional causes: Age is also a factor because people lose muscle mass as they grow older, and the remaining muscle is more easily stressed and injured. Also, many people over 40 take statin drugs to ward off heart attacks and strokes, and muscle ache is statin’s most common side effect.

And even some foods — those in the nightshade group — can cause muscle aches and inflammation.

WHAT TO DO Prevent pain by warming up: What you do to warm up before exercising can forestall muscle aches and pains later: Run in place, do jumping jacks, or anything else that gets your blood flowing and sweat dripping. Experts say it’s also better to engage

Can Coenzyme Q10 Relieve Muscle Aches Caused by Statins?


octors prescribe statin drugs like Lipitor and Crestor to lower LDL “bad” cholesterol in hopes of preventing strokes and heart attacks. But statin drugs

have unfortunate side effects, and the No. 1 side effect is muscle pain: About 20 percent of patients report muscle-related symptoms, which range from mild discomfort to aches that interfere with daily life. Statins reduce the amount of an antioxidant called coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) that the body produces naturally, and our cells use CoQ10 to fight free radicals and generate energy. As the body’s CoQ10 decreases, statins’ side effects ramp up, including muscle aches. If you take statins and are experiencing muscle pain, your doctor may possibly reduce your statin dosage, or switch your brand of statin, or recommend CoQ10 supplements.


in stretching exercises during a cool- down period after exercising. Stay hydrated: Always drink plenty of water, especially when the weather’s warm, because dehydration frequently triggers muscle aches. Wait it out: If you feel aches and pains after exercise or hard work like gardening, give it a day or two to see if it goes away. If you can affect the pain with movement, or if anything at all such as lying down gives relief, it may just be a matter of waiting. In the meantime, remember “ice for injury; heat for recovery.” Avoid nightshades: The little- understood nightshade plants, which include tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, eggplant, and zucchini, don’t adversely affect everyone. But if you eat a lot of spicy foods like pizza and zesty Mexican dishes — and often wake up with an aching back — you may need to rethink your diet. Herbal and natural ointments: Capsicum lotion, made from the component that gives spicy peppers their kick, dampens the pain signals sent by aching muscles. (Keep away from eyes and sensitive skin.) Arnica is an herb often prepared as a gel that reduces swelling and pain, and even has antibiotic properties. Comfrey ointment has a quick pain-killing effect and also reduces inflammation. Be aware that comfrey contains alkaloids, and is not recommended for extended use, nor for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. When pain hangs on: For lingering aches, try an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like ibuprofen (Advil) or aspirin. NSAIDs help reduce swelling as well.

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS Consult your doctor: If your pain is severe or persists for more than a few days, call your doctor, especially if you are taking statins.

Sources: American College of Sports Medicine;; WebMD. com; Harvard Medical School;;


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