These four at-home spa treatments may be the secret to finding muscle and joint pain relief.
Do you dream of splurging on a spa treatment to get relief from muscles and joint pain—but it’s not in the budget? You’re in luck: It’s possible to recreate some of your spa favorites in the comfort of your own home!
We got the scoop on doing at-home treatments from experts at the world-renowned Canyon Ranch health resort in Tucson, AZ. Read on for their soothing solutions for arthritis pain, and be sure to clear it with your healthcare provider before trying any of them.
What to do: Dampen a towel slightly and throw it in the dryer for about 10 minutes. Then slip the makeshift heat wrap around your achy body and bask in the cozy warmth!
Why it works: Continuous use of low-level heat wraps has been shown to reduce low back pain, according to a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. “Warmth causes vasodilation, or widening of blood vessels, which can improve circulation,” explains Mark Liponis, MD, corporate medical director of Canyon Ranch. As blood circulation to the muscles, joints and skin increases, muscle aches and tension decrease.
Tip! Towel not reaching your achiest spot? Microwave a washcloth for a few seconds and wrap around your neck, legs or arms! You could also use a robe straight from the dryer for all-over relief.
What to do: All you need for this is a tennis ball! Trap the ball between your back and the wall or floor and gently roll around while taking deep breaths to relax your muscles. “The pressure you use should be adequate to release any knots, yet not so much that you’re gritting your teeth or tensing your muscles elsewhere,” says April Amstutz, massage manager at Canyon Ranch.
Why it works: “Direct massage stretches muscle fibers to lengthen and relax them,” explains Dr. Liponis. Massage is one of the best ways to temporarily relieve arthritis-related pain—it loosens joints, relieves tension, reduces muscle spasms and increases the production of endorphins, the body’s feel-good hormone.
Tip! Is the ball too hard against your back? Try a foam roller (available in the fitness or sporting goods section).
What to do: Use a little muscle-relief aromatherapy blend in a warm bath for about half an hour. Lavender, rosemary, ginger, eucalyptus, marjoram and birch oils work best to soothe stiff muscles and increase circulation, while chamomile and sandalwood promote relaxation.
Why it works: Aromatherapy stimulates a brain area called the amygdala, which stores memories and emotions, and influences physical and emotional health. “The idea is to reduce pain by increasing the sensation of pleasure,” says Dr. Liponis. “Think of how you feel when you smell chocolate chip pancakes cooking. The aroma takes your mind to another place.”
Tip! Add two cups of Epsom salt, which soothes pain and inflammation, to the tub. No time for a bath? Spritz an aromatherapy scent in the bathroom before a shower.
Inversion leg treatments
What to do: Lie down in your living room and elevate your legs on a sofa cushion. Maintain this position for 20 to 30 minutes to reduce swelling.
Why it works: “Muscle soreness results from pockets of accumulated lactic acid, along with micro-tears in the muscle fibers,” explains Dr. Liponis. “Those produce small amounts of local inflammation and swelling that can cause pain to persist.” Reducing accumulated fluid and swelling by inversion can speed the drainage of lymphatic fluid and help relieve sore muscles.
Tip! After your inversion session, have someone massage from your toes toward the hip on each leg, helping to free the leg muscles of excess fluid.