Life happens. Everything can be humming a long great until you lift that extra weight at the gym, or try that fancy yoga posture in class, or you just bend over to help you kid with his homework and oops now you can't move. First determine if ER is warranted and go if needed! Then discover if this is an ongoing issue or new injury. During the first 24-48 hours it is important to create the space for healing. This means resting, supporting yourself, moving slowly and gently and asking for help. Here are 10 tips to help ease your pain, and support the body and mind while healing:
1. That old saying of RICE is still effective and true. Rest, ice, compression if appropriate, and elevation. Usually what is most important and hardest to do is rest! Legs up the Wall or on a chair is a great way to accomplish two things at the same time (elevation and rest) for you over achievers :).
2. After RICE'ing for 10-15 min get up walk around, or (gently move the knees side to side while on your back if you can not walk) for a few minutes. Then lie back down. Repeat this whole cycle every 1-2 Hours.
3. When not RICE'ing and in between ice sessions, apply essential oils to room temperature skin to support the muscles and joints. Peppermint, panaway, copabia, frankincense, and deep relief are some good examples. Do not put these on right after or right before icing to avoid burning your skin. Be consistent, apply every 2-3 hours (their max window of effectiveness) and cycle with ice to avoid burning. You can dilute with coconut oil. If you do this round the clock (except for attempting to sleep- see below) in conjunction with light movement, ice and rest you will start to feel better in 48 hours. At this point continue. It's easy to get back to activity too quickly and delay healing.
4. Take an epsom salt bath with the above mentioned oils. Again this one accomplishes many things at one time, since this type of bath will do more than just clean your skin. The water, salt and oils will soothe sore and taxed muscles. A calming bath will also help to decompress a frayed nervous system. Research shows that those who are able to stimulate the relaxation response, focus on the breath and clam the mind are better able to reduce the frequency, location and intensity of pain. Which leads to next point.
5. Stay calm. Yes, your mental state can exacerbate your pain. If you are freaking out, not to worry you can reverse this. If baths are not your thing, start by taking deep breaths. Feel your belly and ribs move without aggressively forcing, and focus on the exhale especially. Close the eyes and visualize the body healing as the air moves in and out. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes and just breath and mediate on healing. It will help to stop the freakout and better prepare the mind/body to heal. When the mind is calm, this is also an opportunity to listen to your body. The body will tell you what you need in a given moment to help it to heal. Sometimes you have to work through the layers of the “shoulds or should nots” first….
6. Sleep. It maybe hard due to location/type of pain, but try. Put on soothing music, or the app headspace, use relaxing oil blends, anything to set the tone for relaxation before sleep. You might wake up more frequently because of pain, but do your best to try to go back to sleep. When you sleep the body and mind can really focus on healing due to the physiological cascades and brainwaves that occur while sleeping.
7. Still having trouble falling asleep? Try setting your self up in a restorative pose where pain is reduced or nonexistent, while diffusing relaxing essential oils like lavender, stress away frankincense, grounding, peace and calming, for example. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes so you don't actually sleep in this position. When the timer goes off, with only the necessary movement, maintain the stillness and support yourself into bed. You can also set yourself up in a restorative pose during the day to reduce pain and keep the nervous system calm.
8. Ask for help. This can be a hard one. Asking others for support. Sometimes we feel we always have to be strong, or asking for help can be like admitting a weakness. Those are just stories. Here is the truth, we are all human and non of us are invincible. We work best as humans in community. The definition of community is helping, working together and supporting others in some aspects. So reach out, allow another to take care of you. It can go a long way, for you and them.
9. Did I mention rest? The tendency is to say "I'll just do this lightly" or "I will be careful..." These decisions usually do not end well. I have had numerous patients in my clinic say those exact words only to cause more pain. Light move movement ONLY for just a few minutes at a time. An entire yoga or exercise class is not advised during the first two weeks of a new injury or flare up, even the gentle ones! Why? Because when you are in a group setting you will always be tempted to do more than what your body can handle in the moment, so the risk out ways the good. But, only in those first two weeks.
10. I have to end with this. Schedule an appointment with a professional. This will ensure you are on the path to healing, and don't set yourself up for future issues. This step is super important! I often have patients that show up in the office YEARS, after an injury they blew off. At that time it's not necessarily the injury that is hurting, but some other area of the body that was compensating and picking up slack. In other cases it's more than one region that is now in trouble. Sometimes injuries are a fluke thing, but often they are a compound of factors building up to the incident. Figure out the root cause to prevent future occurrences.
Schedule a free consult to determine if you do have an injury or issue that needs professional help: http://igniteurwellness.com/schedule-and-forms/
You will be so glad you invested your time since I will share with you all that I know to help heal and prevent future injuries. Hopefully you won't have to use this email any time soon, but if you do there you go.
To help you stay healthy and moving with ease here are some upcoming workshops:
Yoga Therapy for Stress Relief: Reducing Pain for upper back, neck and Shoulders 10/6, 2-4PM, at Prana https://prana-yoga.com/workshops/
Ignite Your Wellness Mini Retreat 10/7. 12:30-4:30, at Yoga Del Mar. https://www.yogadelmar.com/ignite-wellness-retreat/