5 Points to Combat Pesky Pain
It is that time of year again, the open is over. We have seen PRs hit, first muscle ups made, and our fitness thoroughly tested. The question is, now what? Whether you are a competitor looking for the next thrill of competition, or someone looking to get into shape for the impending beach season the answer is essentially the same, we train. With that training and the strained muscles of pushing your body to its limits for five grueling weeks comes the management of those pesky pains and aggravating aches. The aching tightness in your lower back, the pulling pain in your knees, the stabbing jolt in your shins, how do we find that sweet relief of pain without sacrifices time in the gym working toward our fitness goals?
As athletes, yes we are all athletes here no matter what your level of fitness is or what your goals are in the gym, it is imperative that we take care of our bodies. When we feel pain, or discomfort it is our bodies telling us that something is off. Often the way athletes deal with pain, especially minor discomfort, is to simply ignore it. This method of pain management, more often than not, leads to greater injuries, thus limiting our ability to do activities outside of the gym with friends and family. Contrary to popular belief, there are simple ways to recover and manage pain and discomfort without making a call to your primary physician.
Studies show as adults we need seven to eight hours of sleep each night to help regulate the various systems in our bodies. By depriving yourself of sleep you do not allow your body enough time to properly recover. After putting yourself through a tough day of training or a difficult workout your muscles need to rebuild. Lack of sleep does not allow the muscles optimal time to rebuild and put you at peak performance not only physically but mentally the next day. The right allotment of sleep can boost the immune system, allow for physical recovery, improve memory and creative thinking, and regulate blood sugar. If you are looking to quell that ache in your lower back or simply wake up feeling more refreshed and energetic, start with more sleep.
- Stretching and Mobility
One of the often overlooked aspects of injury prevention and pain management is stretching. Extra time spent on stretching and mobility can relieve muscle soreness and promote recovery. For example, to relieve lower back pain, time spent stretching tight hamstrings and glutes before and after working out can loosen up the lower back and rid you of the pain that was causing you to walk like Quasimodo all day.
- Get Moving
Let’s admit it, the last thing any of us want to do when we are beyond sore or feel that twinge of a missed snatch in our shoulder is go workout. In reality, working out may be one of the better ways to relieve that pain. The release of endorphins that come with physical activity have been proven to block pain signals in the brain and work just as well as over the counter pain medication. Endorphins have also shown to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression all of which increase the discomfort we feel and increase the pain signals in the brain.
- Cold/Heat Therapy
Arguably the easiest solution to pain management on this list is to attack the afflicted area with cold or heat. The benefits of adding a simple cold or hot pack to the area radiating pain are immense. Icing can help reduce the inflammation that is causing the pain in your joints and it can slow the nerve impulses sending pain signals to the brain. Heat on the other hand increases blood flow to the affected area, thus loosening tight muscles and allowing the body to relax. Hoping into a bathtub full of ice and water or a nice hot bath full of Epsom salts before going to bed can help promote muscle recovery, reduce pain, and prevent further injury.
When all else fails, and the pain is getting in the way of getting a good night sleep there are countless over the counter pain relievers to help dissuade the ache. Taking fish oil (Omega 3) daily is not only good for your body’s most important muscle, no it is not your biceps, as it promotes a healthy heart, but it is very good for joint health. A bit of fish oil every day can naturally reduce inflammation and pain in those aching ankles, knees, and shoulders.
Regardless of where you may be in your journey to “FiveStar Your Life,” we all experience the dull ache and biting pain that comes with dedication to our goals. Ultimately, understanding the difference between actual injury, and nagging discomfort is a crucial piece of knowledge when dealing with physical recovery. However, the soreness, fatigue, and minor pains do not have to stop you from achieving your goals. Allow your body to recover properly and take advantage to the pain management tips above, and overcome the obstacle keeping you from your peak performance.
By Coach Zach Wilson
2017 04 05