My neck had become so stiff a few months ago that I grimaced in pain just because I cocked my head or turned around. All of the neck stretches and foam rolls in the world made no permanent difference. I mentioned this to my doctor a few months ago, and she gave me an unexpected recommendation: taking a fish oil supplement every day, she said, would help with the pain. I rummaged around in my medicine cabinet, found some fish oil tablets that were gathering dust, and started taking them for dinner every night.

And it actually worked! My neck has loosened and for a few months since I started this regimen, I barely feel any kind of tightness. I can twist and turn to my heart’s content and roll my neck around.

I was shocked that it was actually that effective because medication usually doesn’t do anything for my muscle pain. Ibuprofen, Advil, even a prescription anti-inflammatory I took last year for a foot injury – nothing made a difference until I tried fish oil. So what was going on here? Can fish oil actually relieve pain and how? I spoke to Trisha VanDusseldorp, PhD, CSCS, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at Kennesaw State University to find out.

Does fish oil help with sore muscles?

Fish oil “absolutely” helps with sore muscles, said Dr. VanDusseldorp opposite POPSUGAR. That’s because it reduces inflammation, which causes the pain when your muscles are sore: your muscle cells are inflamed and put pressure on your pain receptors, she explained. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil actually reduce this inflammation and the associated feeling of aches and pains.

How much fish oil should I take if I have sore muscles?

Take between two and four grams of fish oil daily for maximum effectiveness, said Dr. VanDusseldorp. She led a study last year to find the most effective dosage and says this is “the ultimate dose” for most of us. Elite athletes can experience a slight boost from ingesting six grams, but there are “no big, significant differences” between six and the lower dosages.

You can expect a difference in the long run, added Dr. VanDusseldorp added. In other words, taking fish oil for a week before a marathon, for example, will not be effective in preventing muscle soreness. “You have to load it on the body,” she explained. You will see the benefits after six weeks of supplementation. She said you can take fish oil in capsule or liquid form, or (if you can’t eat or eat fish products) a seaweed-based form is available and “just as effective”.

Should Everyone Take Fish Oil Supplements?

If you’re not eating two to four servings of fish a week, Dr. VanDusseldorp urgently recommends taking fish oil supplements, “not only for sore muscles, but also for other health benefits”, such as: B. Relieve joint pain and improve heart health, and increase good cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, can even help reduce depression.

However, if you’re looking for relief, keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the intense, exercise-induced soreness that you get after a hard workout. Fish oil can also help with pain related to, for example, sitting too long, sleeping strangely, or random neck pain. “It can reduce inflammation all over the body,” said Dr. VanDusseldorp and cited research showing that fish oil is as effective as NSAIDs like ibuprofen and Advil for reducing chronic back pain.

So, if pain is a concern for you, no matter where it is on your body or how long you’ve been dealing with it, see your doctor and give fish oil a try. If you don’t include fish in your diet, “There’s no argument against it,” said Dr. VanDusseldorp.

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