Work Out Without the Pain

by on August 4th, 2011 at 7:00 am

It takes effort to look physically fit. Muscles don’t grow without exercise. But exercise can be painful.

You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘No pain, no gain.’ There’s a good reason people say that. Muscle soreness goes hand in hand with daily workouts.

Thankfully, scientists recently learned that a common plant can soothe muscle pain. They conducted a study in which they gave two groups of volunteers the spice, ginger, and had them exercise in a way that would cause muscular stress.1 The results showed that daily ginger supplementation reduced exercise-related muscle pain.

What makes ginger so helpful? It contains beneficial compounds called gingerols. One study indicated that [6]-gingerol could reduce pain and inflammation.2 Those capabilities can come in handy when you experience the pain of muscle growth.

Let me explain. In the scientific essay, How Do Muscles Grow, authors Young sub Kwon and Len Kravitz show that muscles grow through a process of exercise, damage, and repair.3 In the essay, they say that intense exercise damages muscle fibers.  The authors also note that the human body uses specialized cells to repair the fibers, adding to the fibers and making the muscle tissue larger. The result is bigger muscle mass.

It’s the initial damage to your muscle fibers that can make you feel pain, though. The book, Skeletal Muscle Damage and Repair, calls this pain delayed-onset muscle soreness and attributes it to muscle damage from eccentric exercise.4 When you extend your arms to put down dumbbells or a barbell that you’ve just curled, you’re doing an eccentric exercise.

According to scientists, the pain caused by eccentric exercise can be reduced with ginger.1 Of course, there are a few additional things you can do for sore muscles. They include:

  • Soaking in a bathtub with dissolved Epsom salt
  • Using a heating pad
  • Massaging the affected muscles

RealHeal Massage Oil™: Soothing oil massage for joints and muscles that contains oil from ginger, peppermint, and pine.


  1. Christopher D. Black et al. “Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Reduces Muscle Pain Caused by Eccentric Exercise.”  The Journal of Pain 11(2009): 894-903. Accessed July 26, 2011. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2009.12.013.
  2. Haw-Yaw Young et al. “Analgesic and Anti-inflammatory Activities of [6]-gingerol.”  Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96(2005): 207-10. Accessed July 26, 2011. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.09.009.
  3. Kwon, Young sub, and Len Kravitz. “How Do Muscles Grow.” The University of New Mexico. Accessed July 26, 2011.
  4. Nosaka, Ken. “Muscle Soreness and Damage and the Repeated-Bout Effect.” In Skeletal Muscle Damage and Repair, edited by Peter M. Tiidus, 59-75. Champaign:  Human Kinetics, 2008.

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