By Alex Eriksson
There’s no denying that pain is part of the life of a fitness enthusiast.
After all, most active pursuits include exposure to all kinds of physical strain—even to the point that the body breaks and builds itself back on a constant basis.
What many people don’t know, however, is how much pain takes a toll on the body. There are close to 9 million reported cases of sports-related injuries in the USA alone every year. That includes all athletes—professionals and amateurs alike.
While you might not be training for a certain sport, strength workouts and even your daily cardio still increases your chances of getting injured. Knowing how to deal with injury and pain, then, is necessary as long as fitness is your goal.
Of course, to understand how best to relieve discomfort and hasten healing, it would be a great idea to first understand how injury progresses.
The Three Stages
Like every other process the body goes through, injury recovery goes through multiple phases.
Right after the body experiences trauma, it goes on full damage control as it seeks to alert every part of it that there is an injury. An increased movement of fluids and white blood cells to the affected area causes it to redden and swell up while the nerves compress, resulting in that sharp and burning sensation.
The body shifts its focus to laying out the groundwork for repairing the damage dealt to it. It does so by forming structures around the injury to combat infection, replace dead and damaged tissue, and connect severed vital passageways.
At this point, the body is not yet at its sturdiest condition which means that the injured area can be further damaged. This is why athletes are recommended to avoid moving around while they’re tending to their injuries so as not to worsen things.
By far the longest phase, this is where the body actually tries to rebuild itself while also restoring function to the damaged area. Depending on the extent of the damage, recovery could take longer than a year.
This process cannot be rushed or else the body will still be vulnerable to the same injuries or the injury itself will not be fully healed. If you really wish to
Natural Relief and Healing
There are actually several natural ways to help the body manage pain and hasten healing while dealing with an injury. Here are some of the best ones:
Boost Your IGF-1
Produced in the liver, Insulin Growth-like Factor 1 or IGF-1 is an anabolic hormone that primarily aids in the regeneration of cells especially the ones that compose bones, muscles, and tissue.
High levels of IGF-1 is linked to a reduction in the rate of chronic inflammation during an injury. This is because it’s the first hormone to be depleted due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, which means that having more than enough is bound to reduce inflammation.
You can increase your IGF-1 levels through various means. The easiest is to add more whey protein or red meat to your diet. An increase in the consumption of soy is also known to increase IGF-1 levels. Unfortunately for men, eating way too much soy can result in a decrease in testosterone.
Directly applying analgesics on the affected region is a common part of pain management. However, it would be best that you pick the right analgesics—those that are safe and natural.
There is no hard and fast rule as to which is the best, although several well-known natural analgesics are readily available such as:
Typically prepared as an herbal rub, arnica is popular throughout Europe as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Despite the limited number of studies regarding its potency, it remains a top choice—after all, there’s no better proof of its effectiveness than the sheer number of people who continue to rely on it.
Made into tea, birch (specifically its leaves and bark) is among nature’s most potent healing concoctions. Not only does it fight inflammation through its betulinic acid content, it’s actually strong enough to ease the pain caused by some of the worst joint conditions.
Interestingly, birch is loaded with flavonoids and vitamin C—powerful antioxidants that strengthen your immunity, meaning your body will get to focus on healing rather than deal with common diseases.
Used primarily as a spice, cloves contain a substance called eugenol, which is a natural pain reliever. Applying oil derived from cloves over the injured area can alleviate the pain for a few hours. It may also be used to treat fungal infections, but this is yet to be proven.
Readily available in a number of forms, menthol contains a substance designed to activate natural analgesia. It works by stimulating the opioid receptors around the injured area, dulling the brain’s perception of pain.
Also, menthol has a cooling effect similar to that of ice, which should help reduce inflammation considerably.
Tap into Kratom
One of the newer, if a bit controversial, options, is the plant Kratom which is considered by most as a natural painkiller and anti-depressant. The plant contains specific components (alkaloids) which allow for considerable relief.
On the other side, however, there are criticisms over the fact that Kratom effects are mild but similar in effects to those found in banned substances such as opium. As a matter of fact, the Drug Enforcement Agency was in the past mulling over the thought of outright banning the distribution of kratom.
Truth be told, Kratom is mild and actually quite safe to consume. It’s been used extensively as an analgesic in Southeast Asia for centuries now with zero deaths attributed to it. It is a relative of the coffee plant and similar in potency as coffee.
This is in sharp contrast to other similar pharmaceutical opioids which have been known to kill 40 to 50 people per day in the US alone. As for Kratom-related deaths, they can be counted on one hand and those believed to have died from supposed Kratom overdose also consumed a multitude of drugs like cocaine, heroin, and anti-depressants.
Keep in mind, however, that not all Kratom strains provide the same effects. Some excel in stimulating the body (similar to what caffeine does), while others shine in easing pain and providing relaxation.
There are also varieties that offer a myriad of effects, although not at the same extent or potency as their more specialized counterparts.
Use Heat and Cold
Perhaps the cheapest treatment out there, placing an ice pack directly on the injured area is known to alleviate pain especially when inflammation begins. If the region is starting to get too cold and stiff, placing a bag full of warm water can help in soothing the muscles.
Alternating between hot and cold treatments can help in restoring mobility in the injured part while also reducing inflammation. Interestingly though, it’s heat that is more relevant to your quest for faster recovery.
With heat, the body’s heat shock proteins (HSPs) are activated, which in turn accelerates an increased muscle recovery. Aside from this, HSPs ensure that recovery proceeds in the most accurate way, avoiding problems (or mistakes) with the setting of connective tissues.
In a Nutshell…
Pain from an injury can be uncomfortable, but there are effective yet simple ways of helping the body heal fast. As you’ve learned here, you don’t even need to rely on manufactured substances just to allow it to recover.
Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals.
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