How to relieve pain after sport?

It is common to have relieve pain after sport. This often means that our muscles have been working, our joints have been stressed, perhaps in an unusual way. But when these pains repeat themselves, last a long time or prevent us from moving, we have to wonder. The solutions offered for this pain are traditionally anti-inflammatories and paracetamol. These analgesics unfortunately all have long-term adverse effects (deterioration of the microbiota, weakness of large muscles, liver damage, etc.).

However, there are natural solutions to pain after sport. You can apply them to prevent the onset of pain, which is of course preferable. But you can also use them after returning from your sports session, or even in addition to allopathic treatments when these are unavoidable.

In this article, I suggest that you first return to one of the main sources of inflammation, which is the acidification of the body. Then, we will talk about joint and muscle pain with a focus on tendinitis and bursitis. I will also offer you natural solutions for pain after sport.

Acidification of the body

Daily acid-base balance

Our body is made up of a million billion cells, of more than 70 different types. Every day, we produce 70 million new cells to replace old ones and ensure our homeostasis (body balance). This natural cellular functioning responds to a chemical transformation called oxidation.

acid base balance naturopathy cells

During oxidation, a stable chemical element is transformed into an unstable element, called an oxidant, plus one electron. This unstable oxidant is problematic because it will disrupt the molecules around it in an attempt to regain its stability. In our body, a balancing act called acid-base balance takes place .

In order to protect neighboring molecules from oxidation, the body uses antioxidant molecules which prevent or at least slow down chemical chain reactions. These are the famous anti-oxidants that we look for in our anti-inflammatory diet .

The chemical reactions necessary for physical effort with accelerated breathing, increased muscle functioning, etc. are added to the minimal functioning of the body. Oxidation is therefore more important. The many oxidants created are also called acids (in the chemical sense of the term). They accumulate in the muscles and in the blood in the form of lactic acid, free radicals, ketone bodies, dead cells, etc. All increase the body’s natural acidification.

The impact of acidification on pain after sport

Physical activity creates many of the toxins that we have just seen. If the accumulation of toxins can be the cause of pain, many other factors linked to sport further aggravate these phenomena.

First of all, the diet of the athletic person may be poorly adapted. Protein is necessary for building muscle. However, excess animal protein increases acidification. Likewise, too many fast sugars or salt have deleterious effects.

By adapting the distribution of meals during the day in relation to your workouts, it is possible to eat enough plants , which is crucial to guarantee the necessary antioxidant intake. Hydration must also be a point of vigilance in order to preserve the cells.

cauliflower salad healthy eating

Sporting activity disrupts mineral intake, particularly sweating which eliminates many. Among the most common imbalances linked to pain after sport, we find a disturbance in the sodium/potassium ratio. Sodium and potassium govern all intra- and extra-cellular exchanges . A potassium deficiency can occur during intense activity (more than 3 hours) carried out in extreme heat and if significant sweat losses are not compensated after exercise. This imbalance can cause nighttime cramps, pain, bloating and digestive difficulties. Magnesium and zinc deficiencies are also common among athletic people.

Plan your sports practice

Finally, important factors which indirectly affect pain are linked to the organization. Intense physical training added to a busy daily life increases stress . Additionally, it often comes with insufficient or poor quality sleep . These elements decrease our body’s natural ability to recover and therefore increase acidification. For good recovery, it is therefore crucial to establish a reasonable training schedule, which is adapted to our constraints and leaves sufficient time for rest.

We have therefore seen that the origin of injuries is multifactorial. Non-personalized nutrition, lack of sleep , poor technique or unsuitable equipment, unbalanced training are all factors that impact sports practice and therefore potential pain after sport.

sports practice

The injury is often a wake-up call from the body. It is therefore important to listen to your body in order to react in time. In particular, do not leave chronic pain untreated, at the risk of injury and more or less long-term immobilization.

Muscle damage

Muscle injuries can be more or less serious. In order of severity, we distinguish between cramps, contractures and muscle tears.

Cramps and contractures

Cramps are an involuntary, uncontrollable and painful muscle contraction. Muscle contraction occurs through ion exchanges: magnesium, sodium and potassium. Cramps occur during intense, unusual and prolonged muscular effort. They are the consequence of dehydration, loss of minerals, an unbalanced diet or cold.

Contractures are often linked to poor hydration, to effort carried out without appropriate warm-up or when the muscle is not used to performing this type of effort . In this case, the session was too intense at the moment.

Contractures are part of the pain after sport and are not beneficial for the muscles. A suitable sports session should not leave you with contractures .

Muscle tears

More serious, muscle tear is characterized by a partial or total rupture of muscle fibers. The tear results from an effort with an eccentric component, from exceeding physiological possibilities or from a constraint imposed by an external element (foot getting stuck in a root causing a fall and a muscle tear in the calf for example). Pain is the main symptom of muscle tear, followed by swelling and hematoma. These injuries require a complete cessation of activity or even an operation in certain cases.

Contrary to what we sometimes hear, lactic acid is not responsible for muscle damage. However, in the long term it leads to acidosis which generates other pathologies. Indeed, lactate (or lactic acid) is formed from pyruvic acid under the action of an enzyme, lactate dehydrogenase.

This reaction takes place mainly in the heart, muscles, kidneys, skin, red blood cells (red blood cells) in the event of a lack of oxygen. This is what happens to climbers with the “famous bottles”. This phenomenon is not an injury. It disappears naturally during the session by climbing to a lower level and in a more flexible manner.

My natural solutions against muscle pain after sport

Repeated cramps are linked to two main factors: poor hydration during exercise and a magnesium deficiency . You must practice drinking regularly during exercise and in small quantities. This paragraph in the rest of the article details good hydration.

magnesium deficiency pain after sport

Magnesium deficiencies affect 1 in 3 French people. Only food provides magnesium naturally. Otherwise, supplementation must be used.

To relieve muscle contractures , we often act by external application. First of all, we can advise the application of heat. In fact, the heat provided by a hot water bottle on the injured part or a hot bath is vasodilatory on the capillaries. This allows blood to circulate more easily and can carry waste from the muscles to the sweat glands. For the hot bath to be truly effective, it must last 20 minutes and cause sweating.

In addition, you can apply a complex of essential oils with a light massage on the contracted area 2 to 3 times a day for at least 5 days. In a 50ml bottle of arnica oil, add:

  • 4 ml of wintergreen essential oil
  • 2ml of Italian helichrysum essential oil
  • 2ml of rosemary camphor essential oil
  • 2 ml of lemon eucalyptus essential oil

This oil can also be used as a preparation before exercise. You can use the essential oils mentioned above for all osteoarticular pain, chronic pain or rheumatism. In addition, they have an anti-fatigue action.

Finally, it is important to redefine and reorganize the sessions which generate contractures, especially if the pain after sport lasts more than 24 hours. Indeed, contractures are not beneficial for training and do not help you progress. They “break” muscle fibers.


Tendinitis is a pain well known to athletes and the link between diet and tendonitis is well established. In naturopathy, tendinitis is one of the clogging diseases . They take place in different places on the body depending on the sport practiced.

The upper limbs are particularly affected by tendonitis. We meet them a lot in climbing, tennis, gymnastics and in team sports such as handball or basketball. Skiers, trail runners and footballers tend to have tendinitis in the lower limbs: ankles, knees, Achilles tendon.

The Achilles tendon represents our structure, our base. A wound here refers to what we rely on to move forward, both materially and emotionally.

People with tendonitis often have very high levels of uric acid . This acid results from the breakdown of purines in our body. Purines are found mainly in meats and cold meats, but also in pulses, legumes, white bread, chocolate and certain vegetables: cabbage, spinach, etc.

During recurring inflammatory phenomena, it is therefore important to limit these foods. In addition, you must ensure good hydration. In fact, hydration helps eliminate 75% of uric acid, if our emunctories are functioning well.

woman hydration sport

Tendonitis can also be accentuated by certain allergens (histamine and tyramine in particular) which increase the general phenomenon of inflammation. These allergens are present in nuts, hazelnuts, chocolate, gluten , lactose, etc. It is possible to carry out intolerance tests in order to make eating more comfortable and not to deprive yourself unnecessarily.

My natural solutions against tendonitis

In phytology, harpagophytum ( or devil’s claw) combined with nettle helps reduce inflammation linked to tendinitis. Indeed, harpagophytum root contains harpagosides. This molecule inhibits the enzyme responsible for inflammatory reactions in the body. Harpagophytum is generally found in the form of capsules. Supplementation should take place for at least two months with therapeutic windows. Contact a naturopath to establish a supplement adapted to your needs.

Stinging nettle is also very effective against pain after sports such as tendonitis. Nettle contains flavonoids, triterpenes and minerals (iron, potassium, silica, phosphorus, etc.). It has an anti-oxidant action which helps fight free radicals and therefore reduce inflammation. Its silica content will have a reinforced anti-inflammatory action and helps reduce pain. It also has a diuretic action promoting the elimination of acids. Its action is very effective.

Bursitis: don’t neglect this pain after sport

Bursitis is inflammation of the bursae that surround the joints. These pockets are filled with a fluid that facilitates movement and protects joints and tendons. When this fluid becomes inflamed, it causes pain in the joint, often accompanied by redness and decreased range of motion. This results in muscle atrophy and thickening of neighboring tissues.

Without dietary correction and modification of training, these pathologies can develop into arthritis (inflammation of the joint), osteoarthritis (so-called mechanical pathology), or even rheumatoid arthritis.

There are different possible causes of bursitis. First, injury or trauma can lead to inflammation. If the affected joint is rested for a while, the dietary and stress factors are corrected, and if the training is adapted, this inflammation should return to normal.

woman elbow pain

The problem often comes from the fact that all these inflammatory factors are not corrected when the athlete resumes training and the inflammation takes hold. In addition, overwork and repeated pressure on the joint accentuate this damage. Over time, calcium-based crystals can form, leading to friction and tearing.

My natural solutions against bursitis

Naturopathic solutions to bursitis consist first of all in calming the pain. Hydrotherapy is a very good way to do this. First, ice packs should be applied to relieve inflammation in the joint and free it. This operation will be repeated several times a day for 3 days, taking care to protect the skin with a towel or cloth. Then, the application of heat helps activate blood circulation and eliminate waste concentrated in the joint.

physiotherapist pain after sport

The joint should not be immobilized for too long. A smooth return to training is desirable with gentle and ample mobilization of the joint. Follow-up by an osteopath and a physiotherapist will be essential.

I often recommend supplementing with silica, turmeric, meadowsweet or stinging nettle. The use of blackcurrant buds in gemmotherapy at a rate of 25 to 45 drops per day for 10 days then 15 drops per day for 1 month also helps reduce inflammation.

The right hydration to avoid pain after sport

Our body is made up of 60% water, which represents approximately 42L for a 70kg person. This water has multiple functions: transport of nutrients and oxygen into cells, detoxification, protection of organs, absorption of nutrients, protection and hydration of joints, etc.

We generally recommend 1.5l of drink per day and 0.7l provided by food. In addition, the athlete suffers sweat losses due to the effort which he must take into account in his hydration. However, overhydration can be as harmful as dehydration, whether during exercise or after exercise.

Indeed, muscular activity causes sweating which modifies blood osmolarity and stimulates the pituitary gland, thus leading to an increase in vasopressin. This hormone acts on the kidneys and causes an increase in their permeability. We will therefore ensure a fair intake, neither too much nor too little.

hydration pain after sport

Overhydration during exercise leads to sodium losses due to sweating. This increases the risk of exertional hyponatremia (symptoms of which are headache, dizziness, fatigue or disorientation). Overhydration can also cause a diversion of blood flow to the muscles to the detriment of the kidneys, resulting in a reduction in kidney elimination capacity.

Some plants to conclude

We have seen that pain after sport can come from three main categories: muscle pain, tendinitis and bursitis. With a personalized diet, appropriate hydration and well-planned training, you already greatly reduce your risk of suffering pain after sport.

Gemmotherapy and essential oils

To prevent pain, gemmotherapy can be used long term. For joint inflammations, consume blackcurrant, birch, ash or lingonberry buds, at a rate of 15 drops per day in a small bottle of water. For a curative action, we can recommend 25 to 45 drops per day for 10 days but it is preferable to receive advice adapted to your situation. Ash and lingonberry buds also have a renal action, which improves the elimination of acids.

For athletes, essential oils are mainly used in massage. I apply the mixture given above very often and the results are very good. There is little point in using essential oils ingestion or olfaction for joint pain and for pain after sport.


In herbal medicine, many plants are interesting in the context of sports practice. I have already introduced you to harpagophytum, which is anti-inflammatory. Among the remineralizing plants , we can choose horsetail and nettle in particular for pain after sport.

Comfrey is also known to promote the consolidation of muscles and cartilage. It is also an excellent muscle relaxant which is suitable for both minor sports injuries and osteoarthritic pain. Meadowsweet has a draining action which helps eliminate acids . It improves flexibility and reduces joint sensitivity.

As you can see, this subject is very vast. I have only mentioned the plants that are important to me and those that I use most often.

Physical activity is essential for our balance. Sports practice has always been a lifesaver for me. Sport is movement, balance, the search for sensations, surpassing oneself. At every moment of life, it is important to adapt our diet and recovery times in order to practice our favorite activities for as long as possible without pain or injury.

I offer naturopathy support adapted to your lifestyle and your physical or sporting goals. Do not hesitate to contact me to find out more.