Eat Your Medicine: Natural Pain Relievers

Three pack-friendly snacks that soothe tired, overworked muscles.
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Three pack-friendly snacks that soothe tired, overworked muscles.

Natural pain relievers reduce posthike aches—and taste a lot better than ibuprofen. "Eating these foods after a hike will help alleviate the soreness you built up that day," says Tara Gidus, a sports dietitian for the NBA's Orlando Magic.

Salmon

This fish packs lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have shown equal ibuprofen when it comes to reducing inflammation. Recent studies at the University of Pittsburgh and in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine reported that omega-3s relieved joint pain and alleviated muscle soreness after strenuous exercise.
Edible first aid
Combine a pouch with mayo or add it to pasta.

Cherries

All berries pack inflammation-busting antioxidants—but tart cherries kick it up a notch. The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that downing apple-cherry juice (equivalent to 100 whole cherries) after exercise reduces muscle pain and limits strength loss. Translation: More power to hammer up the trail the next day.
Edible first aid Toss dried tart cherries into oatmeal and gorp.

Turmeric

Practitioners of Indian Ayurvedic medicine have been treating aches with this spice for millennia, and recent animal research backs up its healing reputation. Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance that blocks the enzymes that cause inflammation. Experts think the spice improves muscle recovery and soothes inflamed joints after exercise—great news for hikers with achy knees.
Edible first aid Add to curry or sip tea (steep a teaspoon of the spice in hot water).