You and I both know that trying going to the gym or just trying to keep fit can result in pain. “No pain, no gain” was a big fitness cliché of the 1980s but it has some truth to it – inevitably, where there are attempts at being athletic or fit, there will be pain.
So, now you’re in pain thanks to an athletic injury. What now? Well, we know how expensive physiotherapy can get. And we don’t want to necessarily always reach for painkillers and other such pharmaceutical alleviation. I’ve compiled some popular home remedies as an alternative option for you regarding your athletic injury:
1. Hydrate, hydrate:
It may sound ridiculous, but water is the first think you should do as part of your athletic injury regime. Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day is especially good for muscle cramping. The less hydrated you are, the more your muscles will struggle to heal themselves.
You may generally be under-hydrating yourself, which is why you need to hydrate throughout your workout and, very importantly, after it. The easiest way to test if you are drinking enough water is to check your urine. Urine that is colorless or light yellow equals well-hydrated; urine that is dark yellow or amber equals possible dehydration.
2. Think Rice:
Well, it’s not actually rice that’s needed here, but ice. If you want to treat a minor muscle injury, just remember to follow the acronym R.I.C.E. which stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. You should first rest the area, then apply ice and then compress it with an elasticized bandage or wrap of some type. Finally, you should elevate the affected area, i.e. keep it raised.
The swelling should go down after about 72 hours, and then you can start to alternate between hot and cold – that is, alternately applying heat packs and ice to the injured area/muscle. Studies have found that cryotherapy (using cold) can be a very effective treatment for muscle pains, especially initially.
3. Think Yellow, Think Cement:
Okay, so what do I mean by that cryptic sub-heading?! Turmeric is well-known for its vibrant yellow color. It’s also an outstanding anti-inflammatory. Either grind some fresh turmeric or use turmeric powder and add a touch of water to make a paste. Apply the paste like a lotion or pumice to the inflamed area that’s hurting you.
A perfect accompaniment to the turmeric is to think cement – well, slaked lime to be exact. Slaked lime is a soft, white powder created by the action of water on lime and used chiefly in mortars, plasters, and cements. It is also an antiseptic and draws water out of inflamed areas. Turmeric and slaked lime in combination can really help with your inflammation.
4. Swimming with Vinegar:
So, do you have a bad case of Swimmer’s Ear? This is an all too frequent blight for those who enjoy swimming as part of their fitness program and occurs when excess moisture and too little wax throw off the ear’s pH balance. This allows bacteria to colonize and creates that disturbing ear pain. Best solution? White vinegar.
You can use a dropper to squeeze a few drops of white vinegar at room temperature into your ear. You can repeat this up to three times a day for a couple of days. For best results, try to lie on your side with your infected ear upward for about a half an hour – this should allow the vinegar to remain in your ear canal for longer.
5. Change Breakfast:
Poor circulation and a slow digestive system can also cause muscle cramping. In order to avoid this happening or even to improve cramping you may be experiencing just top up your breakfast cereal with a teaspoon of cinnamon, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed and some extra milk.
What do these ingredients do? Well, cinnamon opens up your blood vessels, flaxseed moves food more efficiently through the intestines, and milk replenishes electrolytes you may have missing. In fact, cinnamon is legendary for its anti-inflammatory properties. People have been using this spice to alleviate joint pains, including arthritis, for centuries.
6. Smoothie Up:
It’s almost a cliché to list a smoothie recipe as an example of a home treatment – but Ayurvedic practitioners swear this one works! The key ingredients are pineapples and pomegranates, both of which have juices that contain enzymes that act as both an anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant. These should help to speed up your healing.
Use as much fresh pineapple and pomegranate as possible when making your smoothie. To really add a boost to your healing drink, add some grated fresh ginger and a couple teaspoons of turmeric powder (fresh turmeric is even better, if you can get it). Ginger and turmeric are both well-regarded for their anti-inflammatory properties.
7. Take a Bath!
No, this is not about how good hygiene is good for pain alleviation! Rather, it’s about taking a bath with a few tablespoons of Epsom salts mixed in. Studies have shown that these natural salts can relieve pain and muscle cramps, increase blood flow, and help muscles and nerves function properly – all of which are essential for an injured body.
In water, Epsom salts breaks down into magnesium and sulphate, which are great for sore muscles and aching joints. Estimates are that a 20-minute bath with plenty of Epsom salts is equivalent to a 45-minute deep tissue massage. The trick is to have a really good soak – so sit back and enjoy the experience!
There are of course a host of other home remedies you can try out if (or is that when?) you are in pain due to a sports injury. However, there is one thing you and I need to remember about any athletic injury: it’s our body’s way of shouting out “Enough”!
Even if only for a day or so, we may need to take it easy. Tennis great Billie Jean King once said, “Champions keep playing until they get it right.” Champions also know when their bodies need to heal.