The Difference Between Pain and Being Hurt
So, it’s Spring Break, and suddenly everybody who has been avoiding the gym like the plague is busy “repping it out.” Pretty soon, this overuse results in injury, and injury usually equals PAIN.
So what do you do? You hobble to your medicine cabinet, and poke through all of your hair gels, deodorants, and half-used toothpaste tubes until you find a big bottle of ibuprofen. After complaining for another 30 minutes, you start to feel much better and plan on returning to the gym tomorrow…
While anti-inflammatories are knock-outs for shutting up your whining, they do no service to your muscles.
Anti-inflammatories can actually reverse your healing process, which for the weaklings means more pain in the long run. Much of muscle soreness is caused by inflammation, which is what anti-inflammatories are on a mission to suppress (duh). However, inflammation is actually part of your bodies healing process. After you’ve “killed it” in the gym or on a run, your body increases the blood flow, causing swelling and nerve stimulation, which causes pain. However, this increased blood flow permeates cells through the body that protect you from infection and facilitate tissue repair. Clearly, too much inflammation hosts a different wealth of problems, but some is necessary for true healing. Thus, taking anti-inflammatories for a wimpy but annoying injury can actually keep you whining and limping longer. Please, spare us!
If you must use anti-inflammatories, research shows that they should only be used in the first 2-3 days of an acute injury (an injury that was caused recently by a traumatic event, i.e. pulled muscles, dislocations, etc.), since a study run by Evan F. Eckman showed that participants who did so resumed walking within 4-7 days. However, if these medications can be so harmful, why not seek an alternative? When I got hit by a car in November, I did not want to hinder the recovery of my broken collar bone. Fortunately, my wonderful sister gave me some Arnica tablets.
This natural herb is known for treating wounds, bruises, sunburn, skin irritation or inflammation, PROMOTING HEALING, soothing the skin, and relieving muscle soreness. Furthermore, it has been proven to reduce pain and stiffness caused by arthritis and reduces postoperative swelling and pain. If herbs were superheroes, arnica would clearly be in an “Avenger.”
The only caution is to not take the actual plant. Arnica can be toxic by itself; however, the homeopathic gels and tablets that you buy at your health food store are too diluted to cause any harm.
Of course, there are some situations where modern medicine is needed, but if you’ve only caused a little inflammation, I encourage you to go natural. I substituted Arnica for pain medication after I left the ER, and I got hit by a freaking car! However, you should of course make an informed decision about your personal situation, since refusing to take much needed medication will get you nowhere.
photo credits: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mugley/2594318333/”>mugley</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>