Dealing with aches and pains naturally

Summer is finally here. Or at least the date on the calendar is approaching such! With the sunshine and warm weather, there are so many outdoor things we are once again able to do. For many of us, this means more exercise-based activity, whether it be throwing around the Frisbee, biking a half century, or even just playing with the kids in the yard or coaching their sports team. It feels so good to be outside and moving the body that we often forget that we do not inhabit our teen or 20-something bodies all our lives. And even if we still do, they definitely accumulate more wear in the outdoor sports season!

Fortunately, there are many things you can do at home to help decrease the aches and pains. Even if these things are not sufficient, there are other options to get you moving and on your feet again sooner rather than later!

Bruises: Unfortunately, that diving catch also caught you a big shiner on your rear, and you don’t know if you will be able to sit in your office chair on Monday. One of the first things to do with a bruise or other injury is to ice it! Icing will reduce the increase in circulation and immune cells locally, as well as the classic local throbbing pain. Rest, ice, compression and elevation; the acronym serving to remind us of this is RICE. The combination of these things will serve to prevent further injury and to reduce swelling and pain.

Arnica is a botanical used in many homeopathic creams and is specifically helpful for soft tissue injuries and bruising pain. Many over-the-counter arnica creams can be purchased online or at natural product retail locations, and are helpful to have around when you need them.

Muscle and joint pain: With all the training you are doing for your upcoming half-marathon or 10k, you might experience these types of injuries from the repetitive motion and use of certain muscle groups. Tumeric, bromelain, ginger — these herbs and nutrients each have evidence of reducing inflammation and associated pain. Each of these is available in food (bromelain is from pineapple); however, to affect inflammation and pain, taking these as oral supplements may be more useful. Each of these supplements also has effects on platelets and coagulation, so individuals with blood-clotting disorders or who are on anti-coagulant therapies should seek the advice of their physician before using them in higher-dose (supplement) form.

Muscle spasms and cramps: Muscle spasms and cramps may benefit from increasing the magnesium in your body. Increasing magnesium in the body can be done with oral supplementation, and this mineral also has a calming action in the body. However, it may increase the tendency for loose stool or diarrhea, so use caution with your dosing. Magnesium glycinate is a form of magnesium that is less likely to cause diarrhea, so consider looking for this type to try first. Taking a warm Epsom salt bath also may help relax your muscle aches and spasms.

Naturopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture or massage treatments: Sometimes, the do-it-yourself, at-home treatments are not quite enough to deal with the aches and pains we may face, and additional support may help. Each of these alternative and complementary modalities of medicine has a slightly different focus and may be better suited for your unique health complaints. A naturopathic doctor is highly qualified to give nutritional, botanical and homeopathic support, as well as to perform soft tissue manipulations that may help to relieve pain. Chiropractic doctors perform spinal adjustments and other soft tissue manipulations; by doing so, they improve function and reduce pain. Acupuncturists most often use needles at specific points in the body for the purpose of stimulating and moving internal energy to correct imbalances and facilitate healing. Many different types of massage exist, each offering some variation of soft tissue manipulation to move fluid, stimulate tissue and help the body heal.

There are many healing options, and you are not limited to only one! So get out there, enjoy the sun, move your body and stay well! 

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