By Brigitte Mars
Sports are a great way to be active, improve health, energy levels, and enjoy the outdoors, though can sometimes result in injury. If pain from an athletic injury is severe or breakage or fracture is suspected, please seek medical attention. Also be sure to get medical attention if a joint is swollen or out of alignment, loss of sensation occurs in another part of the body (which may be a sign of nerve damage) or pain and swelling are severe.
When homeopathic arnica is used immediately after an injury, it can reduce healing time by half. Arnica montana, is a member of the Asteraceae (Daisy) Family. The flowers are used in a very diluted form to treat concussion, falls, fracture, inflammation, injury, pain, physical and emotional shock, post surgical trauma and post traumatic stress. Arnica causes fluids, which have escaped due to injury, to be reabsorbed. Arnica stimulates macrophage activity and can reduce swelling, as well as nerve pressure. Using arnica in a homeopathic form, is the safest way to use it. Avoid arnica on broken skin, as it can cause skin and mucus membrane irritation.
Massage oils can be used before and after a workout to help loosen tight muscles. Beneficial massage oils for athletes contain essential oils of rosemary or Birch or Fir, which relaxes sore muscles. These essential oils must be diluted before applying to the skin so look for already prepared blends. Saint John’swort, when used topically in the form of an oil, salve or liniment, helps relieve deep muscle spasms, nerve and joint pain.
Soaking in the bathtub after a day of vigorous activity can bring deep relief. Add a pound of Epsom salts to the bath for sore muscles. Beneficial herbs to add to the bathtub for muscle soreness include calendula ( Calendula officinalis ) , juniper berries ( Juniperus communis ) and rosemary. Simply tie a handful of the herb into a washcloth (not a white one which may get stained) with a hair tie and throw the cloth into the tub while filling the bath with hot water. Allow the cloth to steep in the tub. When the tub has filled part way, turn off the water and allow the water to cool enough to be comfortable before stepping in and to give the herbs more time to infuse. Climb in and let the herbal waters soothe your soul and sore body.
A sprain is caused by stretching or tearing of a ligament (the tissues connected to the bones near a joint). A strain is a pulled muscle that involves stretching or tearing of the fibers of a muscle or tendon. In case of injury such as a sprain or strain remember the acronym RICE which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Rest means lie down to prevent further trauma to the area. Avoid using the injured area and immobilize it by using a sling or splint. Cold helps to constrict blood vessels which will minimize bleeding and swelling. Ice can be applied by filling an ice bag with ice and securing it before applying to the injured area. When the area begins to feel numb from the cold, remove the cold compress until the numbness subsides and reapply. This can be repeated routinely for at least six to twelve hours following the injury. Elevation means to elevate the injured area above the body if possible such as propping an injured foot onto a pillow. Keep the afflicted area above heart level. After a couple of days, pain and swelling should be relieved and alternating hot and cold compresses can further speed up healing time.
Glucosamine sulphate helps in the formation of skin, tendons, ligaments and synovial fluids. When taken internally for sports injuries, it can help relieve joint pain and inflammation and stimulate the repair of damaged connective tissue and cartilage. Bruising can cause breakage of small blood vessels under the skin. Inflammation can be due to a histamine reaction causing expansion of the blood vessels at the site. Vitamin C with bioflavonoids can help build collagen formation and strengthen the capillaries making them less fragile and unlikely to break during use. Bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapple and papain, an enzyme from papaya, both aid in the breakdown of protein and when taken internally can help break up congestion in the blood vessel walls. This can help remove waste material that can cause swelling an inflammation. Licorice root ( Glycyrrhiza glabra ) , turmeric ( Curcuma longa ) and wild yam ( Dioscorea villosa ) are natural anti-inflammatory agents without the side effects of cortisone and can be used interbnally as teas, tinctures or capsules. Hawthorn ( Crataegus species ) is an herb high in flavonoids that can help improve weak ligaments.
Good herbs to use internally for pain that calm the nervous system include catnip ( Nepeta cataria ), chamomile ( Matricaria recutita ), passion flower ( Passiflora incarnata ), skullcap ( Scutellaria lateriflora ) and valerian ( Valeriana officinalis ).
If you are prone to muscle spasms, twitching and cramping, your body may be trying to let you know it needs more magnesium, available as a supplement and present in green leafy vegetables.
For cuts and wounds, clean the area with an antiseptic soap such as one containing tea tree oil, then apply a salve made with herbs to promote wound healing such as calendula or comfrey ( Symphytum officinale ) and herbs to prevent infection such as echinacea ( Echinacea purpurea ) , goldenseal ( Hydrastis canadensis ) , chaparral ( Larrea divaricata ) or propolis, which is an antiseptic resin collected from trees and made by bees.
Another useful substance for the home medicine chest is tea tree oil. It is a very strong bactericide and can be helpful to the athlete in numerous ways. Add 10 drops of tea tree oil to the bath after engaging in strenuous activity. For sprains, the pure oil can be applied to the area. The undiluted oil can be applied directly to cuts and abrasions as an antiseptic agent. When a few drops are dabbed on one’s pulse points, it makes an effective flea, tick and mosquito repellent. The pure oil can be applied directly to athlete’s feet to dispel the fungal condition.
In cases of broken bones, a physician’s care is essential, though herbs can be taken during the convalescence period to provide the minerals needed for bone repair. Nettles ( Urtica dioica ), oatstraw ( Avena sativa ) and horsetail ( Equisetum arvense ) all provide minerals needed for bone regeneration. These can be taken three or four times daily in the form of teas or capsules. Also be sure to include mineral supplementation that includes calcium, zinc, boron and silica.
Enjoy sports safely and take care of minor injuries!