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Surprising Way to Soothe Sore Muscles

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Surprising New Way to Soothe Sore Muscles
If your muscles are sore from too much exercise, you now have a new route to relief. A recently published study from Denmark concluded that light exercise may work slightly better than massage to ease the discomfort of activity-induced soreness. The research team performed a comparison test with 20 women whose trapezius muscles were sore two days after a shoulder workout on a gym machine - the exercise involved shrugging the shoulders against resistance. The women ranked the resulting muscle soreness as (on average) a "five" on a 10-point scale, and reported that prior to exercising their baseline aches would have been ranked as less than one on the scale. The comparison involved a 10- minute massage on one shoulder and 10 minutes of the same shrugs against a light resistance band on the other shoulder. The women reported virtually no difference between the positive effects of the massage and the light shoulder shrugs - they ranked the reduction in pain at 0.8 after the exercise compared to 0.7 after massage. The study was published online April 9, 2013, by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

My take? This is valuable information for those who over-do their workouts. In addition to light exercise and massage, gentle stretching after a workout may be helpful and, surprisingly, drinking tart cherry juice may make a difference. A study from the University of Vermont published in 2006 showed that cherry juice reduced the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle strain and that the loss of strength averaged over four days was only four percent in those who drank cherry juice, compared to 22 percent in those who received a placebo. The anthocyanin pigments that give tart cherries their color are likely responsible for their anti-inflammatory, analgesic effects.

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What Really Causes Migraines?
Chances are, you'll never know. New research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center concluded that it is nearly impossible for patients to reliably determine what sets off migraines without participating in formal medical studies. The problem is that too many variables - such as weather, diet, hormone levels, sleep, physical activity and stress - occurring at the same time make it unlikely that you'll be able to zero in on the one (or ones) that are the actual triggers. In a study published online March 27, 2013, by the journal Headache, the research team illustrated what is involved in scientifically identifying migraine triggers. The investigators recruited nine women who had regular menstrual cycles and had been diagnosed with migraine either with or without aura. The women kept detailed diaries for three months, including tracking their stress levels daily via a questionnaire that helped them assess the impact of everyday events. The researchers also collected daily morning urine samples from the women for hormone level testing and reviewed three years' worth of weather data from a local weather station. And even with these parameters, the investigators recognized they weren't able to cover all the variables. If you really want to pinpoint what causes your migraines, the authors concluded, you'll have to work with your doctor to devise a fine-tuned experiment that can reveal the triggers.

It's the Journey Not the Destination
Make each day count, with an outlook that is both serene and inspired. Dr. Weil's new website,, has everything you need to get on the path to emotional well-being. From articles and checklists to exclusive videos featuring Dr. Weil, we can help you make each day a little brighter. Learn more - take the tour today!

Water Exercises Build Muscles and - Maybe - Bones
A new study from Brazil suggests that older women may cut their risk of falling - and breaking bones - by adopting a routine of intense exercises in a pool. The watery workouts increased the women's strength, and the researchers suggested that the physical activity program could also build muscle and bone. Researchers at Universidade Federal de São Paulo recruited 100 inactive women in their 50s and 60s. During the six-month study all the women received 1,000 international units of vitamin D3 and 500 milligrams of calcium daily. Half the women were assigned to the aquatic exercise program, which included bursts of intense activity between 10 to 30 seconds that boosted them to up to 90 percent of maximum heart rate. The researchers reported that seven months later, the number of falls among this group had dropped by 86 percent and the number of women who fell was reduced by 44 percent. No such changes occurred among the women in the control group who did no exercise. The study was published online March 25, 2013, by the journal Menopause.

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Recipe: Tart Cherry-Apple Crunch
There is no better start to a dessert than with plump, tart cherries and apples. And the walnuts in here add not only a crunchy texture, they also contribute healthful omega-3 fatty acids.

Try this recipe today: Tart Cherry-Apple Crunch

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Connections to others are vital to our health, and social media may help you form and strengthen those bonds. Join Dr. Weil as he travels the world sharing information on healthy living and integrative medicine. Become a fan of Dr. Weil's on Facebook.

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