Aches & Pains

Here’s where I tell you that I’m almost 43-years-old. Often, I have to remind myself of this because in my mind I’m still about 26. I don’t know why 26, but 26. Over the years I have learned lots of little things to do to take care of my body in addition to eating well and staying active. With years come aches and pains in joints and muscles. For me, knotted muscles are by far the biggest problem (outside of headaches, but that’s another story for another time).

Because I’ve dealth with this for so long, I’ve tried a lot of things to help it. Here are my go tos:

Massage. This category includes foam rolling, self-massage with something like the Back Buddy, and traditional deep tissue massage. I have found that a massage every two weeks really helps and is more preventative, but it’s really frikkin’ expensive, so I just get them when I have to.

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Epsom Salts Baths. Take a couple pounds of espsom salts and dissolve them in a good hot bath. Sit until you can’t stand it any more, and then pull the plug. Sit there as the water drains around you and cool off as it goes. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate, and that magnesium soaks in through the skin and relaxes sore muscles. It’s wonderful.

(I’ve heard cold showers, ice baths, and cryochambers do wonders, too, but I haven’t tried them.)

Massage and epsom salts are a some time thing, but I do have products I use almost daily: muscle rub/oil and over-the-counter analgesics.

Muscle rub/oil. I have tried lots of varieties of these. Two stand out far and beyond the others:

Shankara Muscle Releaser and  Mio Workout Wonder.

 

As for over-the-counter analgesics, everyone has their favorites for a different reasons, but I wanted to pass along some recent research results. All the addiction to opiods has led to a flurry of studies to find other, less addictive, forms of pain management. A recent study to which I am sorry I have no link showed that one acetaminophen 500mg taken at the same time as an ibuprofen 200 mg is more effective than any other short acting pain medicine, including hydrocodone and oxycodone. You might think this was by a small margin, but you’d be wrong. If I remember correctly, it’s more effective by almost 30%. Impressive. Typically, I haven’t found that acetaminophen has helped me very much at all, but this combination really seems to be quite good. See what you think…

 

 

 

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Old School Magic

I know I just did a post about hygiene, but I’m going to do another one anyway.  Skin infections are a valid concern for jiu jitsu fighers, wrestlers, and anyone who rubs up against another athlete on a regular basis. To combat these, the best approach is to go old school.

The skin is the largest organ, and along with the hair on its surface, it is your system’s only defense against the world waiting to assault it. A few simple things will help you help it along.

Support your bacterial flora. Yep, that’s right. A few billion bacteria keep your body ticking along as it should, both inside and out. These good bacteria are key to fending off the pesky bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi trying to mess up your world. They not only function to directly improve your body’s cellular defenses, they also are direct combatants.  You can show them some love by not using antibacterial soaps that use alcohols or other lab produced chemicals, by taking a probiotic supplement regularly, by avoiding antibiotics except when they are absolutely necessary, and by eating well. Harsh antibacterial soaps and antibiotics are non-discrimatory and will kill the good bacteria with the bad. Also, the antibacterial soaps are not antifungal, so using them will not address the real risk of fungal skin infections. Taking a probiotic supplement and/or eating fermented foods regularly will help replenish your good gut bacteria, so they can boost your immune system thus allowing it to fight off all manner of nastiness with greater ease. Eating well is important for a bajillion reasons, but here it applies because the more varied your fiber intake, the healthier your gut biome will be. The different types of bacteria thrive from different types of fiber. Variety is good. Oh, and sugar? Yeah, the bad bacteria like it. Curb your intake to discourage the bad guys from growing. (The bacteria in your gut are truly amazing, and medicine is slowly beginning to understand that they are key to mental health, immune health, and so much more!)

Okay, you’ve eaten your kimchi and banished the antibacterial dial from the shower. What next? Remember my recommendation to wash that gi and belt regularly and shower before and after class? That. Occasionally throw a cup of vinegar in the wash, too. It’s an antifungal. Consider adding Defense soap into your routine as well. It has tea tree oil and

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eucalyptus. The tea tree oil has both antifungal and antibacterial properties though the research is limited (I’ll save you my conspiracy theorist leanings here). Granted, Defense doesn’t smell the greatest, but it works well. What limited studies there are even indicate that it is effective against Methicillin Resistant Staphyloccoccus Aureus (MRSA, also known as “staph”).  If you follow the link, you’ll see these simple bars of soap are a little pricey, but I’ve found that buying it in the five pack from Amazon isn’t too bad. I only use it surrounding jiu jitsu class, so I don’t finish a bar as quickly as a regular bar of soap. It comes in a liquid and a container of wipes, too, if you’re interested in that. I have super sensitive skin, and so far it hasn’t caused me to have a reaction, in case you were wondering about that.

If all of your valiant efforts fail, and you find yourself with a big, disproportionately painful pimple, please don’t come to class. Any drainage from that is super contagious, and your buddies don’t want your funk.