During workshops, trainings and in interviews I’ve heard Jill begin to explain the benefits of Yoga Tune Up® by saying  “All too often we underuse, misuse and abuse our bodies.”

The Yoga Tune Up® methodology and Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls are very effective at speeding muscle recovery and helping to prevent injuries.  Nevertheless there will still be times when we over exert ourselves and our new powers of proprioception alert us to sensitive areas, indicating low-level inflammation.  It’s important not to ignore the pain signals from our body.  But pharmaceutical painkillers and anti-inflammatories just don’t make sense for small bumps and sprains since the side effects can be more problematic then the original issue.  Lucky for us there are many completely holistic ways to treat sports-induced muscle inflammation. Utilizing multiple remedies together from the list of 10 below will yield the best results:

  1. Rest is the simplest, the most reliable and the most overlooked treatment for new ailments. The recommended time frame is 5-7 days.
  2. Drink more water.  Lean muscle tissue contains about 75% water by weight. If those muscles are hurting, water is key to transporting the good stuff in and getting the bad stuff out.
  3. Heat and Ice Therapy – Ice treatment is the appropriate treatment for trauma injuries and is most effective if utilized within the first 48 hours.  Heat increases blood circulation and is the recommended treatment for basic muscle aches due to over exertion.
  4. Food Choices – Certain foods are highly inflammatory (sugar, refined carbohydrates, animal fats), so avoid them. Foods rich in phyto-enzymes (vegetable juices, green chlorophyll-rich foods) help the body to scavenge inflammatory proteins, reduce toxicity and speed recovery, so bulk up on the good stuff when the body is below par.
  5. Massage improves blood circulation, stimulates nerve conduction and facilitates lymphatic drainage. A pair of well-loved Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls provides a cheap but invaluable (and highly portable) daily self-care tool.  Soft-tissue stimulation significantly improves recovery time but be careful not to apply strong pressure on tender areas that are painful to the touch.
  6. Many Essential Oils – Add 5 drops of Arnica, Calendula, St. John’s Wort, or Peppermint oil mixed to one-quarter cup of carrier oil and rub into the affected area several times per day to relax tense muscles and improve circulation.
  7. In Homeopathy, Arnica stimulates white blood cells to digest congested blood and to disperse trapped, disorganized fluids from bruised tissues, joints, and muscles. Arnica cream can be applied topically (do not apply to ruptured skin) and is safe for extended use.
  8. Spices and Herbs – Turmeric, Ginger, Cayenne, Rosemary, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Basil, Cardamom, Chives, Cilantro, Cloves, Garlic, Parsley all have strong anti-inflammatory properties.  Incorporate during mealtime prep or steep as a tisane (1 teaspoon herb: 8 ounces of water). Cayenne can also be mixed with a carrier oil for use as a topical ointment (1 teaspoon cayenne: 2 ounces oil).
  9. Vitamin supplementation – Research conducted by the University of Minnesota found that 93% of all subjects with non-specific musculoskeletal pain were Vitamin D deficient.  High doses of Vitamin C can reduce inflammation by 45% and Vitamin E plays a major role in reducing inflammation as well as cleansing the body of free radicals.
  10. Magnesium (and Magnesium Sulfate).  Magnesium is an amazing mineral and a terrific all-natural muscle relaxer.  It’s involved in roughly 300 vital biochemical reactions including transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, as well as bone and tooth formation.  Sulfates help form brain tissue, joint proteins, digestive proteins, and they assist the boy in detoxification. A perfect segue to my all time favorite cure-all: Epsom Salt Baths!

Learn about our Therapy Ball Programs.

Find your nearest Yoga Tune Up® Class

Learn about Yoga Tune Up at home.

Dinneen Viggiano

An experienced Therapeutic Movement & Back Pain Specialist with 18 years’ experience, Dinneen offers classes, workshops, trainings and online programming to optimize nutrition, improve mobility and Retrain Back Pain®. As a Senior Teacher Trainer for Tune Up Fitness® & Roll Model® Method, Dinneen travels the globe leading professional trainings. She is also a NeuroKinetic & CranioSacral Therapist and a Certified Health and Nutrition Counselor. www.dinneenviggiano.com

Leave a Reply

150 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
144 Comment authors
Marnie Werner

Lots of great info in here, Dinneen, thank you. I have used arnica for years, but never knew why it worked so well. Thanks for explaining how arnica stimulates white blood cells to digest congested blood and to disperse trapped, disorganized fluids from bruised tissues, joints, and muscles. Magnesium is awesome… I drink it in my water everyday! Once I have a working bathtub, I will definitely be hopping in some epsom salt for my tight muscles. I’m curious, would you recommend taking an epsom salt bath first, and then rolling on therapy balls? Or the other way around?

Kimberly McWilliams

Many good reminders in this article. Magnesium has many more positive affects on the boy (Body) than I was aware of.

Patricia Maldjian

Having been physically active my entire life as well as coaching various sports for many years, I was familiar with the benefits of #1-5. My children, all swimmers and surfers regularly benefited from a good massage. So grateful to have the information given throughout the rest of this list. The vitamin deficiency was especially interesting. Of course I also love that “Rest” is #1 on the list! So often we do not give ourselves this option. Thank you!

Liselotte Frandsen

I love the fact that I can help myself by using natural products. Number 6, 7 and 9 I did not know. This article is a keeper, please write more!

Louise Legouis

Thanks for this very comprehensive list – I’m now on a quest to make all kinds of sugar free chocolate goodies to get all of the chocolate’s high magnesium benefits without the inflamatory sugar.

Lucie Leblanc

I like the way you touch on different aspects of what to do .It’s easy to forget what can work.

Lindsey Rockett

YES! Such helpful advice. Thank you, Dinneen!

I’m curious about your take on gluten? As a vegan that avoids refined sugar *most* of the time (damn you, Jelly Belly!), it was eliminating gluten from my diet that significantly decreased my joint pain. I also noticed a dramatic shift in my energy levels for the better!

And don’t even get me started on the joys of epsom salts…what would I do without them??? A bath is a great place to add essential oils too 🙂


By far, this is one of my favorite blogs that I have read for homework! I am a huge fan of treating inflammation naturally. I do a “golden milk” tea every night (with turmeric, ginger and fresh ground pepper). I missed it during YTU TT and I sure could tell a week later that I had not been taking it. It took a while for me to feel the benefits so I try to be consistent. I already incorporate the other herbs and spices when ever possible including putting cinnamon in my coffee in the morning. Growing up, my mother… Read more »


Basically, these are what keeping us in good shape even if we don’t see any inflammation with our eyes. Maintain the good habits of taking good care of your body, roll to release, practise yoga/ YTU pose to strengthen. Then your body will be healthier than you can imagine. Also, keeping a positive attitude towards everything!

Jess Blake

These are all such great and simple recommendations. I already use a lot of these treatments at home and whenever my students ask me what to do about muscle soreness I usually say that rest, water and hot bath are good remedies. Rest is the one that my NYC students are the most resistant to (go, figure!), so sometimes I go a little further and describe how good quality rest activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which leads to greater healing. Thank you for giving the science behind how Arnica works- “stimulates white blood cells to digest congested blood and to… Read more »


As within, so without! Holistic approach aside (which I love), 7 of your 10 tips all involve absorption of some sort to alliveate inflammation which generally shows up as swelling on the musculoskeletal level. Great reminder to take care of the internal organs and let them reflect their health outward!

Claudia Blasimann

I will print this list out at home and put it up in my kitchen, where I can see it every day. Some of the information was not new to me, but other was, and I will definitely try more of the oils I just started using. Have you tried the oil (mix) in the epsom salt bath? I think that might work quite well if the pain is not only local but general, for example after an exhausting workout.


I appreciate the holistic approach to self-care (yes, the balls are great, but they aren’t a cure-all without other thoughtful practices). This list is practical and easy to incorporate. Great reminder to drink more water (which I will do right now)!!!!


Another great read! My osteopath recently recommended Arnica to treat inflammation in my knee. Thank you for the essential oil recipe. I’ve got everything I need at home and will make this today.


Great article Dinneen!! Although I know about these “little helpers”, apparently I do not use them when needed…. Time to step up, help myself and others!

Julie Cadorette

I had no idea there were so many “natural” treatments for inflammation. I’ve learned to use YTU balls before Advil, but from now on, I’ll try many of your suggestions before painkillers! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!


This article is extremely helpful to me. I always tend to go the homeopathic route, and I had never considered how Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls can assist in taming inflammation. It is amazing how in tune with your body you can be when you take the time to nurture it and strengthen your proprioceptive skills. Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls have been a gift to me, not only physically, but spiritually as well.


This is a useful list that could continue to grow with even more holistic ways. I understand fro some popping a pill is useful and helpful. As I continued on my journey in yoga and the use of the therapy balls, I am finding that the holistic approach works better for me. After months of discomfort I went to the Ortho doctor and once he heard I teach yoga he never offered me a prescription. His biggest suggestion was rest. He also wanted to do an MRI which I politely declined. After six weeks of resting my foot and given… Read more »

Susannah Nelson

Useful list to share ways of dealing with inflammation. I especially like the herbs and spices section, have been concocting some interesting drinks to re hydrates as i lie in an epsom salts bath after my work outs!! thanks Dineen.


Most of us have probably tried a cleanse in their life. in the same lines of “low carbs” diet , refined and not, Ketogenic diet is starting to become more and more popular among people, athletes and not. This diet is a major change, from what the northern american guidelines are offering, for an “healthy life style”. The final goal is to drop carbs (and by that i mean sugars, flours, even fruits) down to 5% – even if you are really active. Healthy fats increased up to 70%, and protein being at 25%. That diet will reset the body,… Read more »


Plusieurs conseils dont il est possible de tirer profit. J’ajouterai à cela, qu’en cas d’inflammation intestinale, mieux vaut éviter limiter (voire même enrayer) sa consommation de blé. William Davis a d’ailleurs écrit un bel ouvrage à ce propos intitulé : Wheat belly.

Marie Streich

This is a great list, I think the typical American diet creates a ton of inflammation in the body. Your suggestions of essential oil’s, herbs and healthy foods are things we should be using every day to stay healthy!

Alison Miller

Thank you for such a well rounded and concise list. There are many different options for people to try and you listed them! I especially like learning about the different types of oils and herbs – I will try that next time I need something a little more than just rest, ice or heat!

Alison Miller

Thank you for such a well rounded and concise list. There are many different options for people to try and you listed them!

Sarah R

Sometimes when people begin to practice better self care it can feel overwhelming as there are some many things that need attention. This is a great list with simple and inexpensive options for people to add to their self care routine. Being able to check a few things off every day will help people who are struggling feel more successful about their practice.

Cat Murcek

Thank you for this great list, Dineen! I felt proud of myself that I could check off almost every one of your list items as things I try to do generally in life, but there’s always room for improvement! And I didn’t realize there were so many good herbs for reducing inflammation, and that St. John’s wort is good to use topically, I’m going to try that!

Mary Eileen

Informative, concise and to the point. Great advice everyone can follow. Well done

Emily Pantalone

I’m coming across this article at the perfect time… I’ve got crazy crackling in my shoulders, I think from pectoral tightness and rotator cuff inflammation. I’ve been trying to find non-yoga and non-medical ways to help with this, and I came across your writing! I’m chronically dehydrated so that may be my #1 problem here. I’m definitely going to try the herbs, some more Vitamin C & D, and roll on my YTU balls more often.


Thanks for compiling such a comprehensive list of self care for anti-inflammation! So helpful to see in one place for reference.

I often sprinkle cinnamon on my oatmeal for a morning anti-inflammation boost, yet had no idea of magnesium’s benefits as a muscle relaxer…I am amazed that the foods high in magnesium are ones I often crave: avocado, almonds, spinach, and of course chocolate!


Dinneen, While I appreciate your list of holistic tips to reduce inflammation, I have to admit that I disagree with one point – that animal fats cause inflammation. Poor animal fats get a bad rap! Yes, I agree that all people should avoid CAFO (concentrated animal farming operations) products for a variety of reasons, one being that the animals are fed corn and grains. But, animal fats from grass fed, pastured, humanely raised animals provides vital fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, and K, which the body needs in high amounts to be healthy. Research now shows that it’s the… Read more »

Nell Guzman

I love the fact you mentioned all my favorite herbs and spices, I often worked with Curcumin, which comes from the root of the spice turmeric. I recommended to all my clients that suffer from inflammation and pain. Supplements are necessary when inflammation is high, specially when the person’s diet is not balanced. Massage, exercise, breathing are part of an inflammation free body, but a diet free of process sugars, flour, red meat and dairy products, and high in phytochemicals is the prefect formula for an inflammation free body.

Elaine Cheong

K.I.S.S . keep it simple stupid, I forgot to include it in my last comment.

Elaine Cheong

I really enjoyed this article, Dinneen. I am being reminded that self care happens in different forms and that there is always something a person can do despite being busy. I remind myself K.I.S.S when I feel overwhelmed. Pick one thing to do instead of thinking you have to do everything. Your body will thank you.


I always believed this was an important issue. Inflammation tells us a lot about our bodies and what may be going on and, in western medicine, we’re always trying to simply make it go away instead of dealing with it effectively. By taking anti inflammatory medication, inflammation is only being masked for a short while until it wears off if nothing else has been changed. These are all great natural and basic ways to deal with inflammation while still being aware of what is actually going on with the body.


I am currently in the YTU teacher training and this has been one of my favorite articles so far. I greatly appreciate that you discussed multiple frames of reference to heal inflammation as I think our minds and bodies needs multiple approaches to be healthy.

Jen F.

Great article! I always suggest to my clients to try the holistic approach before suggesting any over the counter meds or pharmaceuticals. My favorite is also the Epsom Salt Bath!

Katy Forline

Your emphasis on using multiple remedies is a good one. I am a great believer in the “BOTH AND” approach to life’s choices. As a massage therapist o also encourage people to use traditional medicine, pharmaceuticals if necessary and natural remedies as often as possible. Topical arnica, ingested fish oil and glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have been beneficial to me. I’m glad you mentioned magnesium. Recommended to me by my chiropractor, it has been especially good for mental and muscular relaxation through the night when taken before bed.

Daniella B.

I love the ideas in this list because I tend to only want to take painkillers when they are really necessary (like after a surgery!). I’m especially interested in more consciously exploring some of the common anti-inflammatories that are already part of my regular routine. I don’t often consider the anti-inflammatory properties of spices, so I will start to take that into consideration when I am cooking, and not getting enough rest is probably my greatest self-care weakness.

Taryn Shultz

Is rest always a must? What if you want to participate in restorative yoga? I feel like I would go stir crazy not being able to be in a class for 5-7 days.

Cathy Favelle

Hi Dinneen, Thank you for this comprehensive list of natural remedies for inflammation! For me, it’s easy to remember to keep hydrated, use my massage balls and essential oils …my personal favorite, lavender w/peppermint in grapeseed oil carrier or the Y.L. Pan-away blend. What I especially loved about your post is the reminder that reducing inflammation also has to come from the inside…food choices, spices, magnesium, Vit. D and C….YES YES YES….You’ve inspired me to get back on track with my nutrition protocol and also to open that box of lavender Epson salts I purchased 4 month ago! Thank you!

Carlos Savetman

Water is a tough one for me. I’m not the one you see who always has a bottle of water in their hands. I have to force myself to hydrate properly, and can definitely tell when I haven’t!
I had heard about cinnamon as an effective anti- inflammatory. I have taken to sprinkling it onto my Greek yogurt for breakfast most mornings.

Jackie Carey

I love arnica! I was aware of the benefits of everything but the vitamins. While we boost our Vit C intake when a cold is coming on, I had not considered it to help battle inflammation. Same with D & E. Good to know.


Water is key for me. Keeping the tissues hydrated is important all year round, but even more so now that the weather is warming up.

jackie leduc

I love holistic remedies and have had much success with castor oil packs. Messy… but it works well. You soak a piece of material ( flannel ) the size of the space you want to focus on put it on the affected area, then cover it with enough plastic to make sure you don’t stain your clothes, sheets etc…. place a hot pack over this and rest for 20-30 minutes. Great time to meditate and take it easy. My question to you regarding the power of food as possible inflammatory agents. I heard that peppers can be inflammatory. What is… Read more »

Bridget Hughes

hi dinneen – After recently pulling my hamstring, I’ve had to rest it for an extended period of time. Your “Top Ten” list is so comprehensive, it’s hard to remember all avenues available to us when we are in pain. Thanks for the reminder!!


Great Article! Through my own investigation of sore hips i found that taking a daily vitamin, vitamin D and Magnesium were helpful. Also, believe it or not, cream for inflammation massaging my feet helped in the repertoire that i have gathered to take care of my body. Its all connected. I loved the article because it is what i have been doing to pamper my hips legs and feet. I haven”t tried spices and herbs but have tried teas for relaxing… hence, relaxing my hips and feet where i end up gripping. Thank you for the article!


I see comments on the idea of RICE; however the description used in this article to communicate ice, is the best description as to when ice is most appropriate. This was a great article, well worded, clear and concise. This article had got me thinking of adding a couple new shakers next to my pepper to excite my good and give back to my body.


I love all of these all natural remedies!! Speaking from first hand experience I can attest that taking a bath in epsom salts and topically applying arnica to injured tissue works wonders! I love cooking and finding natural ways I can heal my body through food, so the information you provided on useful herbs and spices was fasicinating. Thanks!

Katy K.

I am consistently surprised by the number of movement professionals and otherwise active, educated, knowledgeable people that are so caught up in the drive of it all that neglect to take care of themselves when faced with minor injuries. I was fortunate (unfortunate?) enough to have two major sports-related knee surgeries before I was 19, and really understood how much of a difference care and patience in rehab can set you up to continue to participate in the athletic activity of your choosing for many years to come. A personal favorite of mine recently has been arnica, a member of… Read more »

Amanda Joyce

Hi Dinneen! Thanks a bunch for putting together these tips! They are extremely handy and especially timely with the recent research suggesting that the age old “R.I.C.E.” treatment may not be the only and/or best route to treat inflammation. Loads of love, sister! xo