Muscle Relaxants

So… I pulled my back planting trees today, and every time I sit down for more than 2 minutes, my muscles start to set up on me. Anybody know any good techniques for softening up that mess? It’s specifically my lower back, right above where my hips stop and my back muscles start.

Ugh… Starting to freeze up in the time it took to write this. I hope someone has some love for my poor back!!!

~ SW

I have had luck with arnica homeopathic gel in the past.Also hot water soaks

Arnica does work really well, I’ve had severe back problems my whole life, and had surgery in 6th grade on it…The only thing that’s truly worked is Anthoposophic injections to relax the muscle…Stops pain for around 6 months for me. Pretty big deal if you’ve had chronic pain for so long…

Also, just to alleviate pain, I like using a heating pad, or hot water bottle, and taking epsom salt baths. And as bad as it might sound right now, stretching and movement are always good. Or maybe try laying on a really hard flat surface for awhile until you feel your lower back touch the ground. I like having my boyfriend walk on my back sometimes too, though I dont know how good that is for my muscles.

Do you have some sort of non-mainstream doctor? I think overall that’s made the biggest difference with my health and such.

I can also vouch for arnica. I’ve used it in gel and lotion form, as well as those little homeopathic sugar beads you hold in your mouth. If the injury is a large area, I tend to get better relief from the beads. Arnica seems to speed the healing process in any circumstance in which I’ve overused and abused my body.

Also, tiger balm feels good. Since the more you rub it in the better it works, it’s also a great excuse to get a little healing human touch.

The stretch that I’ve found works the best for the lower back is to lay down on a carpeted or padded surface and pull one knee at a time toward your chest, holding for a while, then switching legs. If it’s not too painful, you can also pull both knees to your chest and hold on to them, making your back arch, and rock back and forth like a rocking horse. I really like that last one for hip stiffness, but it’s a bit too intense if you’re really in pain.

Finally, you might try sitting on something that you can wiggle around on, like a big exercise ball.

Ice it.

Keep an ice pack or summat on for 15-20 minutes at a time. You might want to alternate 15-20 minutes of ice, then 15-20 minutes of heat, then back to ice.

I also forgot to say massage,if you can hook that up, would be great for your back

Thanks, guys! The laying flat last night seemed to have worked some, though it got tiresome and somewhat uncomfortable not being able to roll over and change position. I tried sitting on one of those pilates balls (my wife does some yoga) and that helped loosen things up, too…

My wife is also suggesting I do some basic yoga poses with her, and I think I’m feeling up to giving it a try at this point.

Thanks again for all the advice!

~ SW

PS: I couldn’t find that arnica stuff – where would one go about finding it?

You could find arnica homeopathic gel at a natural food store or health shop.

In case you still have problems with your back you should get some Pedicularis groenlandica, or pretty much any other plant in the pedicularis genus. Highly effective muscle relaxant.

Question: Is arnica better than chamomile for this?
I’ve never used it before.

Let’s reopen this conversation -
anyone have suggestions for foraged plants in the PNW area or plants that could be cultivated super small scale and carefully (such as an introduced sp.)? Hoping to focus on sustainable, hyper-local solutions. Thanks! Looking forward to learning with you! :relaxed::blue_heart:

PS. feel free to post ideas for your specific bioregion if different from mine!

several wonderful herbs for this: i would highly recommend blue vervain (Verbena hastata) or white vervain (Verbena urticifolia) taken internally as a tincture for muscle cramping. they both grow abundantly in the somewhat moist/somewhat dry field edges of missouri, and seem hardy enough to be cultivated elsewhere. some white vervain is nettles-like in its pokiness, so harvest with care.

i would also add an anti-inflammatory, such as wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), leaves tinctured, and used topically or in small doses internally. it grew in the u.p. in the understory of mixed white cedar and tamarack forests. i’m not sure of its range or other habitats.

some very common anti-inflammatory herbs over a wide range that would help: chickweed is a great common anti-inflammatory (Stellaria media), and works well either turned into a salve or used fresh & mashed up as a hot compress. plantain (Plantago major or lanceolata) works used the same way as for chickweed. yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is great as an ant-inflammatory & mild pain relief, either mashed & used as a hot compress or as an oil. good for muscle pain in that form also.

if you are somewhere that you have access to devil’s club (Oplopanax horridus), the inner root bark and/or inner stalk bark (thorns carefully removed!) can be turned into a salve that brings GREAT pain relief, reduces inflammation, and helps muscle soreness.

another great herb for this is crampbark, or highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum, opulis, and edule). the inner stalk bark can be tinctured (or presumably turned into a salve, which i haven’t tried) and is EXCELLENT for severe muscle cramping, both of smooth muscles (think menstrual cramps) and back/joint/etc cramping. highbush cranberry has a wide range, can run rampant & outgrow other similar sized plants in the mid-atlantic, grows much smaller but still in healthy stands in the sub-arctic & at higher elevations in muskegs of s.e. alaska, and grows tall & lush in the moist, dense forest edges & wetlands of the overall pnw.

i know it’s been years since this request was made, but wanted to add my few cents so folks who don’t have access to arnica can look to other potentially more local plant options. there are a Lot of helpful herbs out there to turn to. this is just what came to mind in a few minutes based on what i have personally worked with. :heart:


Joan, thank you, your post is very helpful!!

I make a relaxing tea that helps with muscles also. I mix equal parts of Hypericum, Scutellaria and Avena sativa. It helps with sleep also so I usually drink it in the evening.