March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and National Nutrition Month.

Health professionals may differ on the best approaches to maintain health and combat cancer, but all seem to agree on one thing—exercise can make a difference in the body’s ability to stay healthy and fight off disease.

So, working out is a good thing. But what happens if you get injured? Sprains and strains are common, especially if you’re a beginner just learning what your body can and cannot easily do.

And nothing adds insult to painful injury like having to pay for a health exam when all you’re trying to do is get in shape!

For simple strains and sprains, try these free home remedies to find instant relief from temporary pain.

NOTE: If you suspect you have sustained more than just a simple strain or sprain, please consult your healthcare provider to avoid further injury!

1. RICE therapy

RICE stands for “Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate.” WebMD recommends RICE therapy as one of the best ways to control swelling right after you have been injured. Here’s how to use RICE:

  • Rest. As much as possible, isolate the injured part and give it rest. A sling can be helpful for some injuries.
  • Ice. Especially in the first 24 hours after you have been injured, try alternating 20 minutes with an ice pack and 40 minutes without (always use a cloth to separate the ice pack from your bare skin).
  • Compress. You can use a brace or Ace bandage to lightly compress the injury to further aid in reducing swelling and limiting movement.
  • Elevate. As much as you can, try to elevate the injured body part above the level of your heart.

NOTE: After the first 24 hours (or after any visible swelling has decreased) you can alternate ice with heat to further ease pain.

2. Epsom Bath Salts

If you already have Epsom salts in your household cupboard, simply pour some into a warm water bath or basin and submerge the injured area for 10–20 minutes at a time. Epsom salts can be a great agent for easing pain and inflammation.

3. Cook with herbs like turmeric and garlic

Both turmeric and garlic are great natural agents for reducing inflammation. According to the Sun Sentinel, turmeric and garlic also have a property that suppresses the production of cytokines (cyto = “cell” and kines = “movement”), pain-causing cell signalers produced by your immune system. Not only will you feel better after a plate of garlicky pasta or tasty turmeric curry with rice, but your pain will ease as well.

NOTE: You can also drink turmeric tea or take garlic pills to get similar soothing benefits.

4. Massage

Light therapeutic massage can help to bring blood flow to the injured area, which will aid in healing. Massage can also be helpful to relieve injured muscles that are in spasm. It is best to wait 24–48 hours before beginning any therapeutic massage to avoid further injury.

5. Take your vitamins

If you have been remiss in taking your basic vitamins lately, after a sprain or strain is a great time to start up again. Vitamin C in particular is known to have both pain-reducing and tissue-strengthening properties.

6. Eat (or drink) for healing

Fresh pineapple or pineapple juice contains bromelain, an anti-swelling and anti-inflammatory agent. The beta carotene found in carrots and dark leafy green vegetables has similar properties to Vitamin C. Some red meats (beef, lamb), lentils and quinoa, sesame and pumpkin seeds, cashews, turkey, and shrimp all contain plenty of zinc, which can speed healing.

7. Make a lettuce poultice

Finally, green leafy lettuce has calming, soothing, anti-inflammatory properties. While you can enjoy a salad to get these benefits, for faster relief, chop up some fresh lettuce leaves and pack them around the injured area. Secure with a loose bandage or towel. When the poultice gets warm, you will know it’s time to change it.

7 Free Ways to Ease the Pain of Sprains and Strains