While sports of all kinds have become popular around the globe for their emphasis on physical exercise and competition, what most people don’t focus on are the rigorous and even dangerous side effects. While some sports call for less physical skill and effort, most sports require you to push your body to extremes, and those extremes can cause injuries. And a lot of them. Just in the United States, there’s an average annual injury estimate of 8.6 million people per year.
What kind of sports injuries are there?
Sports injuries are usually classified between acute and chronic injury. Acute sports injuries are those that happen suddenly, typically when a player falls, trips or collides with another person. This type of incident results in injuries like sprains (injury to a ligament which connects to the bone) or strains (an injury to a tendon or muscle). With these kinds of injuries, you’ll normally experience pain symptoms such as swelling, tenderness, or even possible dislocation.
On the end of the spectrum, chronic sports injuries are those that happen from a continued motion or overuse of a muscle or body part. Chronic injuries can include things like tendinitis, tennis elbow, stress fractures or what’s called runner’s knee. These kinds of injuries happen over time and should be treated differently than an acute injury.
How can you manage the pain from sports injuries?
Whether it’s a sprain, strain or broken bone, it’s possible that acute and chronic injuries can be the outcome of practicing any sport. But how do you manage those injuries? Of course, it’s best to first see a doctor and get your injuries and pain levels examined.
What most doctors will recommend
If you have an acute injury, most doctors and physicians will recommend a home treatment plan using the RICE method. This is an acronym that stands for: "Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation"
In addition to that, your doctor may recommend a schedule of mild painkillers like ibuprofen or Advil to reduce swelling and inflammation. This usually alleviates the pain, but it’s not recommended to use when you’re back to training again.
If those treatments won’t suffice for the pain and healing period of the injury, your doctor may prescribe cortisone injections which use steroids to reduce the inflammation of the injury, but the risks for this procedure can be equally as harmful to your body. You could suffer from nerve damage, joint infection or even osteoporosis.
Alternative methods to pain relief of sports injuries
Of course, doctors and specialists have ways to help heal your injury, but sometimes medicinal treatment can cause unwanted side effects. Understanding how alternative methods help your sports injuries can be a helpful tool when understanding the best course of action for relieving the pain your injury is causing. Below are just a few methods that you can try safely and without the supervision of a doctor. In doing so, you’re getting all of the benefits of a natural method to healing pain from a sports injury without the risk of doing more damage to your body.
- Creams and oils
For stressed muscles or sprained joints, pain relief creams and oils can be a suitable substitute to painkillers or cortisone shots. Not only does it allow you to focus on the parts of the body which have been strained or sprained, but you won’t have to worry about using the wrong amount or even getting addicted.
Magnesium spray - can help muscles and joints recover faster if you’ve strained something.
Icy/Hot cream - can reduce inflammation.
Oils from various herbs - can help reduce pain and inflammation in the joints and muscles. Here are just a few for you can try: Camphor, Lavender, Blue Tansy, Sweet Marjoram, Rosemary.
- Eastern medicine
Eastern medicine has slowly become regarded as a suitable alternative to the Western approach to medicine that we are more familiar with.
Acupuncture - is a form of therapy that involves the pricking of the skin with needles in specific areas of the body to help alleviate pain and conditions with the body. Studies have shown that for injuries such as tennis elbow, acupuncture coupled with massage can be an effective treatment of this form of tendinitis.
Cupping therapy - is an ancient Chinese practice which requires the suction of the soft tissue in order to relieve muscle tension and stimulate blood flow. This stimulation, in turn, helps the proper nutrients and supplements within the body make its way to the affected area.
- Dietary changes
A commonly underestimated source of pain relief can come from something as simple as changing what you eat. Focusing your diet on foods rich in vitamins and minerals that help speed recovery and aid in anti-inflammation can be just as beneficial to the body as taking medicine.
Vitamin D - when dealing with a sports injury related to your bones, increasing your Vitamin D intake helps in the healing process. In this case, try adding more of these foods to your diet:
Fatty fish like salmon or tuna, Egg yolks, Leafy greens like spinach, kale or okra, White beans, Mushrooms, Soy products like soybeans or soy milk.
Magnesium-rich foods can also help with bone strength and firmness in the body. This mineral is powerfully anti-inflammatory and vital to muscle recovery. Try to incorporate foods like:
Nuts like almonds, cashews, peanuts, Bananas, Brown rice, Lentils.
There is a reason why sports are so popular. They are an opportunity to get physical exercise, work with a team and gain confidence. So, of course, it’s worth taking part in whatever suits your interest. But with that benefit comes the risk of injury. Even with medicine and drugs that are commonly used in the pain relief of sports injuries, it’s important to know those aren’t the only techniques that have been used and are proven to help in the healing and pain relief of both acute and chronic injuries. They might not be the most common, but it’s worth giving it a try, just like the sport that you love so much.