Muscle aches can occur at any age and are usually nothing to worry about. In most cases, a muscle ache will resolve within two to five days without medical attention. However, almost all of us have experienced muscle pain at some point because of how common it is.

Our bodies have muscles everywhere, so this pain can be experienced almost anywhere in the body. A single muscle might hurt, or multiple. Our muscles become sore for many reasons, and most muscle soreness is short-term.

In this article, we’ll explain what causes sore muscles. Then, we’ll share naturally derived remedies to relieve aching muscles.

Woman holding her throat in pain

What are sore muscles?

There are two main kinds of muscle pain:

  • Acute muscle soreness
  • Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Acute muscle soreness is experienced during or just after exercise. This usually feels like a burning pain. Acute muscle soreness is caused by metabolites accumulating within muscles during high-intensity workouts.

Delayed onset muscle soreness is experienced one to three days after exercise. Exercise causes minuscule tears in your muscle fibres and the surrounding tissue. These tears result in pain and stiffness post-workout. You usually experience delayed onset muscle soreness after exercising muscles you normally underuse.

What causes sore muscles?

Muscle pain is most commonly caused by tension or overuse through exercise or physical labour. Ligaments, tendons, and soft connective tissue can also be affected. This kind of muscle pain is common to many Australians, as 73% of us exercise for 150 minutes during an average week.

The most common reasons for muscle soreness are:

  • Mild injuries and traumas, like strained, sore calf muscle or a sprained ankle
  • Muscle overuse
  • Stress and tension.

If you experience muscle pain for more than five consecutive days, or if that pain worsens, visit your doctor.

Sore muscles after working out

You’ll usually know when your muscle soreness has been caused by physical activity. For example, you might experience sore legs after running ten kilometres or soreness in your arms after lifting heavy weights.

Ease muscle sore after the gym with at-home remedies like ice packs, massages, and stretches.

Pain relief tips for sore muscles

Muscle aches can sometimes be a badge of pride. If you’ve worked yourself hard at the gym, your stiffness is physical proof that you’re pushing your limits and developing as an athlete. However, you’ll want to find relief if sore muscles are beginning to affect your day-to-day activities and mobility.

Happily, there are effective exercises, practices, and herbal remedies to help you find relief from muscle pain.

Woman drinking tea

Practices for muscle pain relief

If your body needs a little help with recovery, there are ways you can find relief without medication. Physical therapies such as massage, heat pad application and foam roller stretches can effectively relieve muscle pain.


Just 10 minutes of massage is enough to provide relief from the muscle pain caused by exercise. Massage reduces the release of compounds that cause physical inflammation. Even better, massaged areas produce mitochondria, ‘cell powerhouses’ that help accelerate recovery.

Heat pads

Heat pads increase blood flow to the muscles and open up blood vessels. It’s believed that compounds that cause inflammation and soreness disperse more easily when the blood vessels are wider.

Stretching on a foam roller

One study has found that 20 minutes of stretching on a foam roller, either immediately after exercise or one day later, can reduce muscle soreness and its negative impact on mobility. In addition, it’s believed to work by decreasing swelling and promoting muscle healing.

Old woman drinking tea

Exercises and stretches for sore muscles

Intense exercise with sore muscles isn’t the best idea. However, gentle movement can help reduce muscle pain and stiffness.

Light exercise sends oxygen-filled blood to areas that need repair without adding damage to the muscle tissue. Aim for an exertion level of three out of ten to promote healing without harming.

Good, low-intensity exercises for sore muscles include:

  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Light resistance training.

Naturally-derived and herbal remedies for sore muscles

As well as gentle exercise, some naturally derived and herbal remedies can provide relief from sore muscles.


Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and the main ingredient of turmeric. One study found that supplementing with curcumin before and after exercise can significantly reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.

Curcumin and Boswellia

Taking curcumin and Boswellia together is believed to accelerate muscle recovery post-exercise. Research has found that combining the two can reduce the likelihood of muscle injury and muscle loss, as well as feelings of muscle soreness.

Find relief from muscle aches with healing practices like massage, gentle exercise, and research-backed herbal remedies. Remember to consult a physician if soreness persists for more than five days.

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