Athletes would be the first to admit that where there is no pain, there is no gain. So learning to naturally ease pain is a must for them.
Pain is an inevitable part of the process of training and ultimately, their performance. Pain may be an inescapable part of progress but suffering should only be optional.
While there is no known rule about the extent by which you should experience pain, a workout can take its toll on your body and can thus cause injury.
Even with safety equipment in place to mitigate risks of incurring injury in sports, a staggering 3.5 million sports-related injuries are still being documented annually.
Although sports-related deaths are extremely rare, a brain injury caused by sporting activities can be fatal. In fact, recreational and sports activities are the cause of brain injuries of 1 out of every 5 American.
Poorly-managed injuries could not only lead to poor performance but also cause more serious injuries.
The good news is, there is a way to ease the pain and manage the sports-related injury. Sports injuries can be fully treated to restore functional loss and naturally ease pain.
When dealing with sports injuries, understanding the different stages of injury progression will help you understand the phases of tissue repair that facilitate the recovery process.
The Four Stages Of Injury Progression
There are four phases of injury progression. Please take note, however, that the time frame for each phase may vary depending on the severity of the injury, personal lifestyle, fitness level and age of the person.
This is simply to guide you in understanding what really happens during an injury.
1. Injury Stage
By definition, injuries occur when ligaments or muscles are damaged. Injuries can cause disruption of blood vessels, thus releasing blood from the damaged area.
Within the first 10 minutes of the injury, your body protects itself by narrowing the blood vessels within the injured area to prevent further blood loss.
Treatment/ Care: Damaged blood vessels cut off the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the cells leading to tissue death. It is therefore imperative for an injured person to keep still and rest to prevent further damage.
2. Acute Or Inflammatory Stage
Inflammation lasts 4 to 5 days. This is noticeable because of four noticeable signs: pain, swelling, redness, and heat. Redness, heat, and swelling are caused by blood leaking into the tissues. The pressure caused by swelling into damaged tissues results in pain.
Treatment/ Care: Precautionary measures observed (or otherwise) determine how long the recovery period will be. The time taken to slow down bleeding and remove impurities from the damaged area has a bearing on how long it will take for a person to recover. To hasten recovery, steps that slow down blood flow and aids the narrowing of blood vessels must be undertaken.
Remember the acronym PRICE which means Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. As a rule of thumb, apply ice to the injured area for 10 minutes every 2 hours.
3. Repair Or Proliferative Stage
At this stage, the body begins repairing damaged tissues. The structures built at this stage will only serve as a framework for structures built at the succeeding stage.
New blood vessels are formed to aid in the continuous supply of nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissues.
Treatment/Care: Scar tissues start to form within the injured area at this stage. To break down scar tissue and realign collagen towards the direction of tensile muscle strength, the injured area must be stretched and strengthened by applying advanced sports massage techniques. Sports massage stimulates the healing process and reduces swelling by improving circulation.
4. Remodeling Phase
This stage of recovery may take a month to a full year. At this stage, cell activity gradually returns to normal. Functional recovery also begins at this stage but it will take time.
Structural tissues such as tendons and ligaments will require at least a few months before they can fully comply with their regular functions.
Treatment/ Care: Applying stress prematurely to the injured area will only lead to another injury, one that you may never recover from. Refrain from exerting effort using the injured body part until you are sure that the injury has fully healed.
Firmer and deeper sports massage is recommended at this stage to prevent atrophy and loss of muscle strength.
Athletes may require more than just sports massage to regain fighting form. In fact, there are more natural ways to ease pain and manage the injury.
Easy Methods To Naturally Ease Pain
Here are the best methods to naturally ease pain and treat your injury:
1. Cissus Quadrangularis
By increasing the expression of a protein called osteopontin, Cissus Quadrangularis aids bone restructuring and pain reduction. It is a natural practice that helps in managing bone fractures.
2. Increase IGF-1 Production
IGF-1 hormones aid the regeneration of a lot of cell types including those found in our bones, muscles, and ligaments. Low IGF-1 levels in the body often cause chronic inflammation.
Here’s how you can boost IGF-1 hormones in your body:
- Eating red meat;
- Consuming dietary protein such as those found in supplements such as whey protein;
- Eating foods that are rich in Zinc;
- Consuming soy isoflavones and capsaicin.
3. Application Of Topical Analgesics
Topical analgesics are used to manage pain in specific body parts. Since topical analgesics rarely penetrate through the skin, unwanted side effects are minimal at worst.
Topical analgesics are often used by athletes in form of sports spray. They provide up to moderate pain relief but it can help you stay away from addictive pain relief medication.
Sports doctors recommend natural topical analgesics because they don’t disrupt the healing process of the body.
Natural topical analgesics have the following natural ingredients:
- Capsaicin – is a chili pepper extract that inhibits the proliferation of substance P, which is responsible for transmitting pain signals to our brain. Depleting substance P reduces pain perception due to inefficient pain signaling.
- Menthol – initiates pain relief by activating certain receptors already found in the skin.
- Camphor – operates in the same mechanism as do menthol. Aside from this, camphor has anesthetic properties.
Kratom is steadily gaining popularity as a natural pain reliever. Its pain relief properties are due to its ability to affect the opioid system in our body.
It belongs to the same family of plants as coffee but the effect of both plants differ. Coffee stimulates the body while kratom is more known as a pain killer and as a mood booster.
There are several kratom strains that may have varying effects, depending on the strain.
Kratom Strains For Pain Relief
Southeast Asian countries have kratom plants in abundance and each country is home to unique kratom strains.
Maeng Da which can be found mostly in Thailand can both be stimulating and pain relieving.
Indonesian strains, on the other hand, can have a sedating effect on top of its pain relieving properties.
Malaysian kratom is best known for inducing pain relief without affecting your energy (whether stimulating or sedating).
The presence of 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine is responsible for kratom’s pain-relieving effects.
Known opioid medications such as morphine are powerful analgesics but they have bad side effects such as respiratory depression and sedation. An overdose may lead to people dying in their sleep as their respiratory system will just cease functioning.
Kratom is a good alternative to other opioid drugs. It carries out its pain relieving functions without the risk of exposure to respiratory depression that can lead to death.
A 2016 statistic shows that 46 deaths each day are attributed to opioid overdoses in the US. Locals in Southeast Asian countries have been using kratom for many centuries and no recorded deaths have been officially associated with it.
While it’s true that kratom is a hundredfold safer to use compared to other commercially-accessible opioid pain medication, usage must be kept in moderation.
5. Heat Application
Application of localized heat for a short time can improve recovery time. While ice remains effective for short-term inflammation and pain management, it may be counterproductive when applied on a long-term basis.
Heat promotes proper structural regeneration by activating heat shock proteins (HSPs). Often incorrect fracture recovery is a result of inadequate HSP recruitment.
HSP support the synthesis of muscle protein even with a prolonged period of inactivity.
Heat aids muscle recovery by helping rebuild muscle mass that might have been lost after the injury. It also improves the functionality of the bones and other connective tissues.
6. Think positively
Often our brain may think that our injury is worse than it actually is. This may lead to the brain recognizing more pain than necessary, thereby prolonging the recovery period.
Expectations affect our recovery time; thus, it will help athletes to think positive about their injury.
Nutrition is an important part of an athlete’s lifestyle. They do not only facilitate muscle growth but they also aid the recovery of muscles from injury.
But it couldn’t hurt to supplement nutrition to hasten recovery and make your daily life bearable as you deal with pain.
Trying to naturally ease pain and manage the injury mitigates the risk of incurring side effects that might only hamper your recovery in the long run. Setting positive expectations will help you a lot to get through the injury.
When recovering from injury, be sure to refrain from exerting pressure on the injured area. Make sure to follow our guide above and you’ll be back in competition shape in no time.