Longer, sunnier days and warmer weather mean more time for outdoor activities — but dealing with chronic pain can put a damper on your fun. To fully enjoy all the activities you love, experts recommend these natural remedies, which are easy, fast, and affordable. (Some are even free!)
Reaching for the sky banishes back pain.
Looking forward to a day of gardening? Take 10 seconds every half hour to stretch the muscles around your spine. Finnish scientists say this curbs the risk of back pain by 80 percent, plus cuts recovery time in half if you’re achy. Pain researcher Christine Wiebking, Ph.D., says stretches relax spasms, flush inflammation, and boost blood flow.
A comfrey rub quiets knee pain.
Massaging a half teaspoon of this herbal extract into sore knees eases stiffness by 33 percent in an hour. Rub it in three times daily and you’ll cut pain by 95 percent in four days, making it twice as effective as over-the-counter meds, says a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Study co-author Chris Staiger, Ph.D., says comfrey’s allantoin and rosmarinic acid ease swelling, calm pain nerves, and speed tissue healing.
A mulch march halts a headache.
Spring’s humidity and temperature fluxes spike headache risk by 36 percent. For speedy relief, walk barefoot on a bumpy surface, like garden mulch or a nubby rug. Swedish scientists say this stimulates pressure points in your soles that trigger the release of pain-killing endorphins, easing the ache by 50 percent in two minutes.
Stretching and strolling nixes neck pain.
Tackling yard cleanup makes neck pain flare for up to 56 million of us. Luckily, a 10-minute midday stroll followed by two minutes of neck stretching eases pain by up to 50 percent and cuts healing time in half if you make it a habit. Boston University scientists say walking relaxes spasms, stretching quells inflammation and UV rays up the production of muscle-healing vitamin D-3.
A snack and a cup of tea ease aches.
Celery boasts 20 painkilling compounds that cut aches by up to 30 percent if you eat two stalks daily, British scientists say. Tasty tip: Finely chopped celery adds snap to tacos, macaroni salad, and salsa. Three cups of rose hip tea daily trims four days off recovery time, say Australian scientists. Rose hip compounds ease aches the same way aspirin does.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.