Remedies for Spring’s Strains and Pains
By Jan Wolfenberg
Spring is upon us, and for many, this means a sudden increase in physical activity. It’s common to greet the warm weather and bright sunshine with a generous portion of over-enthusiasm. We are all so eager to shake off the winter cobwebs and get outside! Whether gardening, golfing, or just spring-cleaning, the sudden shift away from winter’s sedentary habits can put some stress on our bodies, which we often notice in the form of aches, pains, bruises, strained muscles and sprained joints.
Western medicine offers us analgesic relief in the form of over-the-counter medications like aspirin, acetaminophen and naproxen sodium (brand names omitted), as well as prescription pain relievers. But these acute conditions can usually be helped greatly by a handful of natural options that have fewer side effects and tend to work with the body instead of against it.
First of all, if you are sore from over-doing, it is your body’s way of telling you to give it a break. Muscles that are strained from overuse need a day or two to recover. If there is swelling that accompanies any strain or sprain, cold packs can significantly reduce soreness while alleviating swelling. Pain relievers only mask the symptoms; they don’t cure the condition, which only wants time to heal. With your symptoms masked, you are out of touch with your body’s signals, and this permits you to continue pushing yourself instead of taking the time you need to recover. Trust your body’s wisdom and listen to its signals.
Second, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy foods. Healing tissues need to remain well hydrated, and sufficient fluids also provide a way for toxins to be excreted. Stick to water, pure fruit juices and herbal teas. Soda pop only burdens the immune response and slows healing, while fruit juice cocktails aren’t much better. In fact, white sugar and corn sweeteners (found in most convenience foods) are very hard on the body in general, and especially so during healing. Choose natural foods that are minimally processed, and include lots of fruits and veggies. These foods provide your healing tissues with the building blocks they need to repair themselves.
Third, don’t forget to utilize good health care practitioners who perform body work. Chiropractors can help re-align anything that needs it and are often covered by health insurance. Massage therapists can loosen tight muscles, facilitate lymphatic drainage of toxins and encourage tissue healing while providing you with a one-hour vacation from your hectic new spring schedule. Your chiropractor or massage therapist may be able to recommend specific stretches or exercises, both to aid in healing this injury and preventing one in the future. If you’ve never worked with either of these types of professionals, ask your friends for referrals. Word-of-mouth recommendations are often the best way to locate a good practitioner.
Nature also provides some curative herbs and minerals that we can use to help our bodies heal the effects of overuse. Two of my favorites hail from the science of homeopathy:
This is the name of a nearly magical herb that is well known for its ability to treat trauma, bruising and swelling of soft tissues. It is useful when muscles are sore from overuse, and should be given first after any injury. It is found in several homeopathic forms, including:
- Internal: place these small sugar pellets impregnated with the energetic essence of Arnica under your tongue for several minutes. They come in various potencies. For acute use, choose 6x, 6c, 12x, 12c, 30x or 30c. The higher the number, the less frequent the dosing.
- Topical: rub these gels or ointments into the bruised, sore or swollen area. Repeat several times daily. Will halve the healing time. Do not apply to broken skin.
These two simple homeopathic remedies can help you have a more pleasant transition into your springtime activities and can be found at any health food store. Like all homeopathic remedies, they are safe and non-toxic for people of all ages and conditions. Keep them among your first aid supplies.
Enjoy the spring weather and all of your new-found energy – take care of yourself and try not to overdo it!!
(Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor.)