Tuesday, March 30, 2010

DIY aches and pain relief

Since none of us are perfectly symmetrical, and a lot of us are unaware of proper posture, shoulder stability or what a neutral back feels like, we are likely to develop some aches and pains through out the days. Whether you sit at a desk all day, or build skyscrapers, you are probably sore at the end of the day. Here are a few suggestions on how to avoid them and how to ease the discomfort. (Now remember, I'm not a doctor so if you have a chronic or acute injury, talk to your health care provider.)

be ambidextrous. If you are right handed, try doing things with your left, and vice versa. Think of all the things you do on only one side of your body: open doors, hold your tooth brush, mouse on the computer, shifting your weight to one side while standing, stepping up and off curbs with the same leg, lying on the couch with your head turned to one side. This may seem silly or inconsequential, but trust me, it's not. Try switching things up. See a study about athletes, back pain and handedness here.

move in multiple directions. We tend to do everything in the sagittal plane. But the body can move in more directions than just forward. Move sideways, backwards, diagonally. Grapevines, dancing, swimming, kickboxing, yoga, pilates all move the body in multiple directions.

hydration. Water helps with muscle repair too. Drink plenty before, during and after physical activity.

sleep. Your body is busy healing while you catch some z's. Lack of sleep delays the recovery time and contributes to more muscle stress, so be sure to get enough sleep. Just how much to get varies from person to person, but 7+ hours a night is a good place to start.

cross train. Just like the multi-plane movements, cross training is a good way to help you stay more muscularly balanced. Yoga, swiss ball exercises, pilates, swimming are all good ways to compliment most on-the-job movements.

stretch! yoga, pilates, good old stretches help loosen tight muscles and improve range of motion (ROM)

foam roller massage. My personal favorite! More effective than stretching, and more affordable than a massage therapist. Foam rollers come in different lengths and firmness. I recommend the 3 foot long x 6 inch diameter. The white rollers compress into a brick which defeats the rolling aspect so I suggest the black rollers. (I offer classes and DIY Massage workshops using the foam roller so feel free to email me with your interest)

Epsom salt baths. This may be an old wives tale, but it's widely believed that an Epsom salt bath can relieve muscle aches and pains. It's cheap and won't hurt to try it. I even find just soaking my feet can help me feel better all over.

spice up your diet to fight inflammation. there are lots of studies about herbs and spices that can help fight inflammation. I'm more interested in seeing how ginger might help me feel better than taking a narcotic. Tastes better too!

eat right. Like sleep and hydration, proper nutrition helps with muscle repair. A diet with a balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. Here are some facts and fiction about diets. There is the government issued food pyramid, which I don't completely agree with. I like the Harvard School of Public Health's alternative.

I'll talk more about alignment and proper form soon. got any questions? Shoot me a comment!


micki said...

Walk backwards. When I hurt my Achilles' tendon, it healed faster because I walked backwards on a portion of my daily walk.

Guess who suggested that to me! :-)

Katrina said...

Can you or your colleagues offer any suggestions for relieving minor aches and pains, using pressure points, that a person could do on her own?

kristin said...

Micki, walking backwards works different muscles than walking forward, so it is a crosstraining option.

Katrina: good request. I have a colleague working a response so stay tuned. There are videos on youtube. There is also a product called the Miracle Ball Method that comes with two balls and a book. You can pick them up at local book stores. I use tennis balls.

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