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Muscle aches and pain is an all-too-common condition that nearly everyone will experience at some point in their lifetime. Characterized by inflammation and a throbbing sensation, it's often the result of strenuous exercise or physical activity. The good news is that you can ease the symptoms of aching muscles by following some simple steps.

Ice During the First 24 Hours

Should you apply ice or a hot compress to your aching muscles? Assuming you've only been experiencing the muscle aches for no more than 24 hours, you should apply ice. Ice and similar cold compresses discourages blood flow to the affected region, which is helpful in reducing inflammation and the associated symptoms. With that said, you should never leave a cold compress placed against your skin for longer than a few minutes, as this damage your skin.

Hot Compress Thereafter

After 24 hours, however, it's best to apply a hot compress to your aching muscles. A hot compress has the opposite effect: it encourages blood flow to the affected region. This is actually beneficial, though, as the extra blood speeds up your body's self-healing mechanism, allowing the injured or otherwise disturbed tissue to heal more quickly.

Get a Massage

Need another reason to get a massage? Aside from its relaxing therapeutic properties, massage can also prove helpful in easing the symptoms of muscle aches. People have been giving and receiving massages for thousands of years for this very purpose. Even today, it remains one of the most effective treatment methods for muscle aches.

NSAID

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also offer relief of muscle aches. These drugs work by reducing inflammation in the body, which is usually a tall-tale sign of muscle aches.

Rest

Of course, rest is also essential in recovering from muscle aches and pains. If you experience muscle aches, there's a good chance that you've been exerting yourself physically, whether it's at work, at the gym or elsewhere. When you push your body to its physical limits, small tears develop in your muscle fibers, which is essentially why you feel achy. By allowing your body to rest and recovery, however, you'll ease these symptoms more quickly. This is why most professional trailers recommend waiting at least 48 hours between strength training exercises.

These are just a few simple steps you can take to relieve muscle aches and pains.

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