As we’ve adjusted to life and health in the midst of a pandemic, a lot of people are rediscovering ways to stay fit and healthy without a gym. This has led to more running and cycling outside, the creation of small makeshift home gyms — and new injuries.
Getting hurt during a workout is relatively common, particularly sprains and strains, and there are many natural ways to recover faster.
Reaching for an over-the-counter painkiller might provide immediate and short-term relief, but at what cost? As more and more people become aware of the health risks associated with painkillers, there’s been an increased demand in figuring out how to minimize pain without any risks.
Something everyone should have on hand is BCAA supplements. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) occur naturally in the body, but only three of the essential amino acids in the body are branched-chain: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. It’s recommended that you sip on BCAA-infused water before, during, and after a workout.
Many people count on BCAA’s leucine to help stimulate muscle growth naturally, but don’t overlook the fact that BCAA can help reduce muscle soreness as well. BCAA has been shown to minimize delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and muscle damage.
Although you need tiny amounts of muscle damage in order to get stronger, there’s a fine line between minuscule damage and moderate damage. BCAA can help you stay on the right side of soreness, and it even comes in sugar-free options.
Get Some RICE
There’s a reason RICE has been a staple for workout recovery: it works. If you go to your doctor for a minor workout injury like a sprain, there’s a good chance you’ll be “prescribed” RICE, and it’s certainly something you can undertake on your own.
RICE includes rest, ice application on the injury site, compression, and elevation.
These 4 tactics can be very helpful to speed up recovery for a number of minor injuries.
As anyone who has an established workout regimen knows, the minor injuries can become a huge headache. Plus, small injuries can turn into big ones if you don’t RICE and if you put too much demand on an injured body part too soon.
However, it can be dangerous to assume that RICE is the right fit for any and every workout injury. It’s also easy to do it “wrong.” While resting the injured area and elevating it are pretty standard best practices that are tough to mess up, ice and compression are different.
You want to apply ice as soon as you can, but only for 10 – 20 minutes at a time. Ice only helps for up to 72 hours after the injury, and its major benefit is to reduce swelling. You also want to avoid placing ice directly on the skin. Compression, wrapping the injured site, also helps with swelling. However, it’s possible to wrap it too tightly and interfere with circulation. If you feel numbness, coolness, or tingling, it’s wrapped too tight. Just like ice, compression is only helpful for up to 72 hours after the injury.
Healing Powers of Plants
Depending on the type of injury, there are also various medicinal herbs, plants, and spices to help with the healing process. Kratom is a leaf from tropical plants in Southeast Asia and has been used as a pain reliever and energy booster for centuries.
Red Vein Kratom is the most popular variance for pain relief, and the exact dosage will depend on factors including your body weight and severity of the pain. An analysis of the kratom extract should be performed by an expert who sells kratom and should be personalized based on your needs and body type.
Willow bark is another popular option to reduce inflammation, which is the cause of many pains and aches associated with workouts. The active ingredient in willow bark, salicin, is very similar to what can be found in aspirin. In the past, willow bark was chewed to relieve pain, but now you can find it dried so it can easily be added to tea. It’s also available in capsule form.
Turmeric is another readily available anti-inflammatory agent. It can be found as a fresh root or in powder form and can added to a number of savory dishes. There are several plants and herbs associated with pain relief, but you always want to check with your doctor first before adding a new-to-you pain reliever to your regimen. In some instances, even natural remedies may counteract other medicines, drugs, or conditions.
See an Expert
Your primary care physician is just one member of your medical team. They may provide you with an initial diagnosis and can help you identify if natural remedies are safe for you. However, it’s important to create a medical “dream team” that treats you and your body like the holistic machine it is.
Seeing an acupuncturist, licensed massage therapist, and chiropractor for your pain can all help pinpoint a correct diagnosis and the best plan of action. Each of these alternative health experts provides different insights and knowledge, and you can benefit from combining them.
It’s always best, fastest, and easiest to treat an injury earlier rather than later. As soon as you notice an injury, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your medical team. In today’s world, telemedicine is often the norm, which makes it even more convenient to see your doctors.
Even though injuries from workouts are unfortunately common, that doesn’t make them “normal.” Pain is your body’s way of saying something is wrong. The sooner you listen, the sooner you can get pain relief and avoid unnecessary, bigger injuries.
Prevention is Critical
Preventing injuries is key. Great strategies for injury prevention include proper warmups, giving your body time to rest between types of workouts (such as alternating types of cardio and alternating strength training days), and strengthening your body in other ways so that it’s protected during more gruelling workouts. Working with a personal trainer and starting a regular yoga or other type of static and dynamic stretching practice is a great way to get started.
It’s also important to listen to your body, especially as you get older. Modifying your workouts, being flexible about what feels challenging yet safe, and seeking out new ways to stay fit are all part of a healthy preventative program. Sometimes modifications are simple, such as swapping your walks in the neighbourhood to a local chip trail to help strengthen your foot and ankle muscles and ligaments. Get creative, build your health team, and if your body is trying to tell you something, listen.