Natural Ways to Reduce Sore Muscles From Running

If you land with a forefoot strike when you run, then you should rarely experience sore muscles from running, especially knee pain as forefoot running is associated with less impact on the knee as compared with heel strike running. But, if you are learning forefoot running or barefoot running or minimalist running, you may have some temporary muscle soreness because learning a new running style can be taxing on the muscles in the beginning. If you are grappling with persistently nagging muscles pain and joint stiffness, there’s nothing that these natural alternatives to anti-inflammatory drugs can’t fix.

Sore Muscles From Running?

Natural Ways to Reduce Sore Muscles From Running

Holy Basil

Holy basil will help you get your pep back for running as it may be a principal supplier of pain relief. Holy basil is an ayurvedic remedy that may help reduce pain, stiffness and swelling by 73%! How does holy basil provide credible pain relief? Holy basil contains 2 natural painkilling compounds (rosmarinic acid and eugenol) that employs long-last pain-relief. A study proven dose of holy basil was found to be 300 mg-500 mg.


For more extensive painkilling measures, boswellia has popped up again in the scientific research as being a key factor in eliciting strong, painkilling effects. According to evidence in the journal Phytomedicine, taking 600 mg to 1200 mg daily of boswellia is a very productive approach at decreasing pain. Where does Boswelia get its painkilling strength?  According to the researchers, the mechanism of action of boswellia is that it dampens pain by blocking the formation of cytokines –proteins in the body that cause an increase in inflammation and pain. Boswellia relieves pain by putting the brakes on cytokine production , acting as a continuing strategy to oppose muscle pain.


There is a growing realization that the mighty herb, rhodiola, is a major thrust in reducing muscle soreness. According to research out of Columbia University, taking a daily dose of 500 mg of rhodiola, may greatly reduce chronic pain and improve joint flexibly and mobility. More proof that rhodioal may put you on a better path to recovery and prevent injuries comes from Richard Brown, coauthor of Use Herbs, Nutrients, and Yoga in Mental Health Care, reported that rhodiola reduces pain by increasing the production of 3 key brain chemicals: serotonin, dopamine and norepinepthirine. When these brain chemicals are low,  it makes it easier to feel pain and feel stiff. When these 3 neurochemicals are of greater concentrations in the brain, you experience significant pain reduction! Rhodila appears to be really powerful at making sure these 3 neurochemicals are at higher levels, thereby helping remedy achy, tense muscles.

Tart Dried Cherries    

Eating more tart dried cherries may sharpen your muscular resiliency. According to reports from Oregon Heath and Sciences University, tart dried cherries have the highest amount anti-inflammatory compounds than any other food in nature, making tart dried cherries powerful at delivering muscle and joint pain relief.

Tart dried cherries are certainly a muscle health-boosting super-food that has a wide-variety of muscle nourishing benefits. For instance, tart dried cherries ease achy joints and muscles by reducing uric acid accumulation –the culprit of painful age-related conditions, like gout. This is how tart dried cherries may be greatly effective at helping you move more smoothly, more easily and more pain-free. For best results, eat tart dried cherries before bed because they are high in melatonin, which is a brain chemical involved in sleepiness. That way, you’ll get a more high-quality, more restorative sleep, which is also going to help bolster muscle repair and recovery!   


Cloves can be considered as fairy dust for muscle health and injury prevention for runners.  It’s the capacity of cloves to effectively reduce inflammation that enables cloves to be very actively involved in reducing muscle swelling and may prevent muscle pain flare-ups. Backed by hard evidence, cloves are really effective at helping to rejuvenate muscle health and longevity. How? Cloves have the highest antioxidant content of all herbs and spices! For example, cloves deliver 30 times more antioxidant activity than blueberries, making cloves a powerhouse for defending against muscle damage and other exercise-induced inflammatory ailments.

Wintergreen Oil  

One popular way to relieve achy, tender muscles and soft tissues is by massaging as it boosts blood flow to affected areas, however wintergreen oil may be the secret sauce you’ll want to add to your massage lotion. According to Standard University researchers, diluting 6 drops of wintergreen oil into your favorite massaging lotion and massage the sore area(s) in circular motions boosts nourishing nutrient-rich blood flow, thus accelerating healing. What is the key ingredient in wintergreen oil that helps soothe muscle pain? The researchers noted that wintergreen oil contains methylsalicylate, a natural compound that punches through inflammation, promoting healthier muscles and fortifies connective tissues.

Eggshell Membrane 

Eggshell membrane is highly concentrated in natural compounds that repair damaged cartilage. According to work in the Journal of Clinical Intervention in Aging, taking 500 mg of eggshell membrane per day may reduce joint pain and stiffness by 72% and may increase joint flexibility and mobility by 42%.

Krill  Oil

Krill oil is a healthy fat that acts as a potent anti-inflammatory, helping a great deal at toppling muscle pain. Krill Oil comes from a tiny shrimp-like ocean creature, and according to Canadian researchers, taking a daily dose of 300 mg to 500 mg of krill oil was found to significantly reduce chronic inflammation that underlies chronic muscle aches and pain.

SAM-e (s- adenosylmethionine)

SAM-e is an amino acid that helps you feel better physically and mentally. Most often, body pain crosses over to frustration, and even depressed mood, but SAM-e is not only a strong, natural painkiller, it also naturally improves mood! The specifics behind how SAM-e works is that according to University of Oklahoma researchers, SAM-e reduces muscle soreness and relaxes tense muscles by calming pain nerves and also increases the brains production of the mood-boosting, happy-hormone, serotonin, making you feel better physically, and even better mentally.

Devils Claw

Devils Claw is a blend of herbs and is a key natural remedy you may want to weave into the fabric of your injury prevention efforts. According to British researchers, Devils Claw may provide major pain relief, cutting pain symptoms by nearly 75% thanks to its active ingredient, harpagoside, which is its core asset as it works to reduce pain, swelling and stiffness as effectively as many perspective pain medications!

ASU (Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables)

ASU helps you deal with pain by tackling sore, painful cartilage that keeps you from training hard. According to Jason Theodosakis M.D, author of The Arthritis Cure, ASU may reduce muscle pain by 50% as it works to exclusively heal damaged cartilage. Also, ASU significantly helps reduce inflammation and improves joint and muscle stiffness.


According to research out of University of North Carolina, selenium is a mineral found in tuna, salmon, cod and halibut, and it reduces chronic pain by 38% simply by reducing body-wide inflammation.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K helps you feel pain-free by strengthening your cartilage. According to Boston University research, vitamin K helps build stronger cartilage and helps repair damaged cartilage, helping you manage achy joints.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is ultra-nourishing for the muscles. According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, a 3,000 IU daily dose of vitamin D supercharges your muscular strength and rebuilds muscles by cutting your risk of muscle shrinkage by 50%. As we age, our muscles tend to shrink –an age-related process that may be accompanied by greater muscular fragility and an increased risk of a running-related injury. Luckily, vitamin D seems to stall the shrinkage of your muscles and adds more health and longevity to them.        

Vitamin D3

Taking 3000 IU of vitamin D3 daily is enough to help fend off muscle damage. According to research out of Cornell University, increasing your vitamin D3 intake can reduce inflammation and chronic pain by 30%!


Pycnogenol, is a pine bark extract that was found to reduce chronic pain and stiffness by 58%. It works by increasing blood circulation to damaged muscles and joints and flushes out inflammation-triggering wastes.

Juniper Essential Oil

A good topical approach to prevent pain-flareups is with juniper essential oil. According to work in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, juniper oil contains natural plant compounds that relax the muscles, improves blood flow to damaged areas, and also calms nerve pain.


Another helpful, all-natural anti-inflammatory is ginger and coriander which, according to European research, ginger and coriander cuts pain by 35% by reducing inflammation as effectively as Asprin. It is also well-acknowledged that ginger alone produces real results when it comes to fighting muscle pain. According to UCLA researchers, taking 500 mg to 600 mg of a ginger supplement per day, shuts down pain by increasing the production of pain killing endorphin’s, a class of hormones secreted in the nervous system that influences a wide-range of bodily functions and mood.

Fish Oil

Fish oil has been proven to help heal joint-damage. Research has found that taking 1200-mg of EPA and DHA fish oil per day relieves joint pain with its anti-inflammatory molecules which send ‘stop’ signals to inflamed joints.


Carotenoids, which is the pigment that gives fruits and veggies their vibrant colour, was found to nourish and protect joint tissues and was also found to reduce your risk of arthritis by 33%.


Astaxanthin, which is in salmon, shrimp and trout, is great for knocking out inflammation. One study even found that it did a better job than vitamin E at reducing inflammation. More proof that astaxanthin has a dramatic impact on thwarting the inflammation that could damage muscle cells comes from Canadian researchers. Their data found that astaxanthin may reduce muscle pain by 55%, improves pain symptoms by calming over-active pain nerves and accelerates the healing of tissue and muscle damage. 

Green Tea

Start off every morning with green tea, your joints will certainly thank you for it. Drinking at least 1 cup of green tea daily significantly reduces the inflammation that causes joint pain and stiffness.


If you have ongoing leg muscle cramps, you might be low on potassium, so give yourself a potassium-boost by eating leafy greens, banana’s, or a baked potato more often.

Vitamin D

If you are low on vitamin D, this can weaken the muscles that support the joints, resulting in a decreased ability of the muscoloskeletal system to absorb impact. Vitamin D not only lowers your risk of arthritis, it keeps your joints healthy and strong, and banishes muscle aches.


You can also get stronger cartilage by eating more raw or cooked onions, which contain high amounts of quercetin, a nutrient that protects cartilage and accelerates the healing of damaged cartilage.


Curcumin, which is a turmeric spice extract, has a stunningly long-list of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that are study-proven to make daily aches and pain disappear. One of its tremendous health benefits is that it greatly reduces joint irritation and swelling better than medications and the over-the-counter stuff.  How does curcumin do this? Curcumin triggers the immune system to reduce carbon dioxide production, thereby stopping joint tissue erosion, according to Yves Henrotin, PhD.

More evidence on the pain-soothing capacity of curcumin comes from Michelle Cook, author of Arthritis Proof Your Life, who states that curcumin heals damaged muscles by nourishing and strengthening muscles/soft tissues and may even prevent future injures. Cook also re-affirms that regularly consuming curcumin may reduce muscle and joint pain and stiffness even more effectively and longer than many prescription medications.  


Olive oil is amazing joint-grease. It contains oleocanthal, which is a natural compound that fights inflammation as well as pain caused by the inflammation, helping you move better and feel better.

Lavender Essential Oil

If you want something that is topical for your achenes, try rubbing some lavender essential oil because it contains a natural painkiller known as linalyl acetate which tampers down over-active nerves.


Boswellia is a natural compound that comes from the sap of an Indian tree and has been scientifically proven over-and-over again to relieve joint inflammation and pain, especially in the knee. For instance, according to Jacob Teitelbaum, co-author of Real Cause, Real Cure, boswellia chases away aches and pains by reducing the body’s production of pain-triggering compounds called leukotrienes. Meanwhile, boswellia also boosts the flow of muscle-healing, nutrient-rich blood. Furthermore, more proof that boswellia stops stubborn pain comes out of UCLA. The researchers found that taking a daily dose of 900 mg – 1200 mg of boswellia reduced muscle pain and improved muscle and joint flexibility as effectively as ibuprofen and other painkillers!


Walk barefoot! Walking barefoot on natural grounds release endorphins and improves the strength and flexibility in the muscles and connective tissues around your joints. In addition, walking barefoot outdoors enhances nerve function in the bottom of the feet and boosts circulation of nutrient and oxygen-rich blood. Walking barefoot on grass may also stimulate your body to replace aging bone tissue and improves overall postural strength and balance.

Get hydrated! According to Nathan Wei, MD, drinking around 6 to 8 glasses of water per day improves the resilience of the shock-absorbing cartilage in the joints –probably because water makes up 70% of you cartilage.

I’ve always been a fan of the natural stuff vs the synthetic stuff, and I’ve found that the above really works, and they are easy to get as well which is a bonus.

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Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!