After weeks and weeks of shoveling a new path in the snow to our duck house every few days, I can tell you my body is sore. It’s not just the shoveling, of course. During the winter season on a homestead where you have snow and freezing temperatures, certain chores reach a new level of difficulty – from shoveling snow to carrying buckets of water for the animals, there are plenty of tasks that can leave your muscles tired and sore. That’s not to say that summer doesn’t have it’s own muscle-working chores. In fact, spring and summer can really give you a workout with all the planting, weeding, and harvesting. Let’s just say, homesteading is a physical lifestyle.
If you’re living on a homestead, it is wise to take care of your body with stretching and exercise (no, the chores are not enough to keep you in shape, I really thought they would be, too). And it is wise to have a few remedies on hand to ease tired, sore muscles – ones that don’t include regularly opening a bottle of ibuprofen. Truth be told, I’m not great at either of these things, but I’m trying.
Here is what I’ve tried so far, and a few things I plan to try, courtesy of some of my favorite homestead bloggers.
Disclosure/Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health care professional. These statements have not been approved by the FDA. Use your own research before using any herbs or essential oils medicinally. You should consult a doctor before trying any at-home remedy, especially if you have a known condition or are concerned about interactions with medication.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, has been used in baths to ease sore muscles since the 17th century when it was first discovered in an English town called Epsom. Despite the fact that it’s been used this way for so long, there’s reportedly no good scientific evidence to support the idea that the magnesium (the element that can have a positive effect on muscles) is sufficiently absorbed by the skin. Many suggest that it’s simply the warm bath that helps ease the muscle aches, and others swear that putting the Epsom salt in the bath is what makes the difference. Whichever side of this argument you fall on, it can be said that Epsom salt baths are a relatively inexpensive way to try to ease those aches and pains of working on a homestead.
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Simply add a cup of Epsom salt to your bath water and relax. You can also add a couple of drops of your favorite skin-safe essential oil to help you relax, rejuvenate, or help you breathe when you’re suffering from a head cold.
In my opinion, the Epsom salt bath is great for when ALL of your muscles are sore from being overworked. For muscle aches in a specific area, let’s say you overworked your arms lifting extra buckets of water for your waterfowl, a good muscle rub might be the answer.
Sore Muscle Rubs
The next step I’ll be taking to combat sore muscles and put an end to my dependence on ibuprofen (my stomach just can’t handle it anymore), will be to add a good homemade sore muscle rub or salve to my medicine cabinet.
The BeeCool Sore Muscle Rub recipe from Melissa K. Norris looks like a good muscle cooling rub. And when the dandelions start to pop up in late spring, I plan to try this Dandelion Salve for Muscles and Joints recipe from Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead.
Learning What Works for You
Normally, I don’t talk about recipes that I haven’t tried or developed myself, but I’m diverging a bit today to highlight a reality of homesteading, and well, life in general. We don’t always have all the answers. Homesteading, in particular, shines a light on this because of its hands-on approach to learning what methods, remedies, and recipes work for you. We learn by talking to others and by trying things out for ourselves, improving our skills along the way.
So, who has a good sore muscle rub or salve recipe for me to try?