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Runners' Home Remedies for Running Injuries

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Updated February 21, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Having a running injury is never fun, and a visit to the doctor for a running injury can be a major inconvenience and expense. But many running injuries respond well to R.I.C.E. self-treatment, and some runners use some other home remedies to treat or prevent running injuries or ailments. Here are a few -- perhaps unusual, but effective -- runners' home remedies.

Pickle juice for muscle cramps.

If you suffer from leg cramps during long runs and races, and you've tried different remedies, you may want to give pickle juice a try. Pickle juice has long been touted as a fix for cramping muscles by some runners and coaches, and a study lends even more credibility to this home remedy.

Tennis ball as a massage tool.

Although there are lots of massage rollers and balls on the market, many runners swear by using an ordinary tennis ball to release muscle knots. To do a tennis ball massage, you simply lie down on the ball and place it right near where you're feeling a tight spot or muscle knot. You then use your body weight to apply consistent pressure and roll back and forth on the ball. The best spots for a tennis ball massage are your back, hips, and butt because they're the easiest to apply consistent pressure.

Frozen bag of veggies as an ice pack.

Sure, you can make your own ice pack. But a bag of frozen veggies works just as well, if not better. (There's something about the way those frozen peas just conform to the shape of your leg.) Just make sure you wrap the bag of frozen vegetables in a towel, like you would an ice pack, so you're not putting it directly on your skin.

More: Video - How to Ice a Running Injury

Duct tape for foot blister prevention.

Runners who are prone to foot blisters are sometimes willing to try anything to prevent new ones. Some have used duct tape as a successful preventive measure by applying it to "hot spots" -- or irritated, blister-prone areas -- before runs. The idea is that the duct tape protects the foot from the friction from your running shoes, which is what causes the blisters. But don't put duct take on blisters that have already formed – it's better to stick with bandages designed for blisters, to avoid possible infection and painful removal.

Golf ball as massage tool.

A golf ball is another good massage tool, especially for foot issues such as plantar fasciitis. You can roll the golf ball under the arch of your foot. It may hurt at first, but if you do it once a day (15-30 minutes) for several days, you should notice some relief in the tightness of the area.

Cherry juice for muscle pain.

Cherry juice is another beverage that's long been a favorite of runners and coaches, but also has some science to back it up as a possible muscle pain reliever. Cherry juice contains natural anti-inflammatory chemicals that can reduce muscle pain and swelling. Participants in one study who drank 16 ounces daily for 3 days before a hard workout felt less muscle soreness 2 days later.

Sources:

"Reflex inhibition of electrically induced muscle cramps in hypohydrated humans." Med Sci Sport Exerc 2010 May;42(5):953-61.

Connolly, D A J. "Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage" Br J Sports Med 2006;40:679-683 Miller, KC.

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