Monday, June 27, 2011

Heal Better!

::{Did you know that 42% of exercisers hurt themselves every year?? Knee pain and sprains are among the most common injuries, helping to fuel over $2 billion in amount of annual sales for OTC (over-the-counter) pain relievers!!}::

Oh yes, my friends! Are you a statistic?? Unfortunately, with my weird anatomy, I am. Well, guess what? A real pain in the butt hamstring, knee, ankle, shoulder, back, etc. doesn't have to put your workouts on ice! Here are some smart ways to help ease those aches:

The Pain

Sharp and sudden

What to do Stop working out immediately! Let loose with some "sailor trash talk." Honestly! Research and studies show that cursing/swearing helps block pain! Next, try some GENTLE stretching. Listen to your body! That should help if the pain was just a muscle spasm. If stretching makes it worse, you could have a strain. (I strained my ACL twice in high school--BELIEVE ME! THIS IS NOT FUN!) You might need to  change your workout routine or stop altogether depending on location and severity. To treat the injury, apply ice for 20 minutes several times a day and always remember RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)!

Dull aches/cramp that hits as soon as your workout begins

What to do Keep going for a couple of minutes and the feeling should subside. If the pain continues, stop your workout and rest the specific joint or muscle bothering you until you can exercise without pain. To prevent cramping the next time you hit the gym? Warm up for 10 minutes instead of 5, 15 instead of 10, or what have you. If the pain early in those workouts, see your doctor.

Overwhelming ache late in your workout

What to do During exercise, your body tries to get rid of lactic acid and carbon monoxide that builds up and physical exhaustion can cause aches and pains. Reduce your intensity or your pace (even though for us fitness people, this may KILL us!!) Women who consumed caffeine before a tough cycling round (Yay spin class!) tolerated leg pain better than those who took a placebo according to a study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Maybe try downing some of my favorite: Dunkin' Donuts Hazelnut Coffee (cream and sugar please!) or my other favorite: Starbucks Skinny, Non-fat Caramel Macchiato . Caffeine blocks adenosine, a hormone in your brain that helps process your body's pain!

So, what's the good news in all of this? You can learn to squash looming thoughts about pain and use our own mind to help you feel better! Fix the mind first, then the body will follow! That's right! Adopting the attitude that most physical aches are non-threatening can help you in the long run (no pun intended!). You hurt less when you perceive pain as your body's natural way of healing itself and getting stronger!

If you think about pain in a way that makes it seem more benign, you can reduce your pain by 64%!! Example: To produce a cooling effect, imagine little snowflakes landing on that aching shoulder. Picture your cells multiplying and having small tools to repair an injured muscle. This, in the nursing world, is what we call guided imagery. For a couple minutes, two or three times a day, close your eyes and visualize the process happening right then and there.

When pain hits you (sometimes hard and square between the eyes!), think about your workout regimen that week: Did you increase your reps? Up your speed? Do a new workout class? If you change your activity, pain could be normal. Apply ice and take good ole' ibuprofen (Advil). It acts as an anti-inflammatory and reduces swelling, allowing tendons to move more freely.

Make sure you are getting enough sleep! When you are tired, your gait (balance) and technique during your exercises can be compromised!

If you are healing from an injury, don't stop working out! Just modify your routine. You can get the same benefits of running on a treadmill for an hour in the pool swimming laps! Activity helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to different parts of your body which is critical in having it heal better!

Listen to your body and you will become much more strong!

So go conquer those aches and pains on your own (though sometimes crippled) two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

1 comment:

  1. Love this post! It's such a good reminder of what to do and what not to do while you're in pain!