Listen to your body’s cues; here are 4 strategies for natural pain relief
Aches and pains are a seemingly common part of modern life. So common that they’re considered normal, but are they?
When our body hurts, it’s telling us something is wrong. It might be from a recent trauma (like overextending ourselves during a workout) or a chronic ailment (like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome). We need to listen to our body because seemingly small pains can turn into serious ones that require surgery or lead to lifelong disability.
For example, a tear in the shoulder labrum is relatively common. The labrum is part of the rotator cuff area (though not the rotator cuff itself). It’s a connective band that helps keep the shoulder joint in place and functioning. Fraying is common, especially as we age or for anyone who’s an athlete, lifts weights, or has a job or hobby with a lot of repetitive movements. Conservative treatments may include physical therapy and massage therapy, but a torn labrum can continue to tear and sever completely. When this happens, surgery may be recommended though it’s not a guaranteed fix and the shoulder may never function properly again.
If you’re experiencing any kind of pain or ache, whether short-term or long-term, it’s important to listen to your body – it is never wrong, and will continue to nudge you with increasing boldness (i.e., pain) until you respond. Seek help. Experiment with both western and eastern forms of medicine. Find a professional who listens to you and will work with you starting with conservative measures for a diagnosis and treatment.
There are also a number of highly safe and effective home remedies that can be used to treat a wide variety of aches and pains. Here are a few to try:
1. Hot Baths with Epsom Salt
Heat is a natural healer, particularly for sore muscles. It’s a habit for many athletes and can also help if you ‘run cold’. In Ayurvedic terms, people tend towards either hot or cold. An easy way to gauge is to track your feelings morning and night for a month. Ask yourself if, on a scale of one to ten, you feel more hot or cold physical and emotionally. You’ll quickly notice a trend. While everyone benefits from the healing properties of a hot bath, those who run cold can especially get a pick me up. However, be sure to never wash your hair with hot water; a cool rinse and a cool splash of water on the face is preferred in this area. Not only can heat be rough on the skin (and the face is especially fragile), Ayurvedics believe the aura of the head is especially sensitive. Plus, hot water is known for exacerbating hair breakage and dryness.
Seeing a licensed massage therapist and practicing self-massage is a great way to ease aches and pains. It can help with everything from muscle cramps stemming from that new fitness class to tension headaches. Massage therapy can treat PMS, too. The manipulation of the muscles, skin, bones, organs and ligaments/tendons helps pinpoint areas that need extra work. Massage is often thought of as expensive, but that’s not always the case. Self-massage, or with a partner, is free and there are plenty of online tutorials available. Many studios offer sliding scale fees, and massage schools always need clients.
3. Natural Anti-Inflammatories
Are you prone to inflammation? It’s both genetic and a side effect of a poor immune system, overworking the body, or poor diet. While many prescription drugs are an anti-inflammatory, there are also plenty of options in the natural world. For example, turmeric is a very well known anti-inflammatory food, but is rarely used in western cooking. Include it in your daily fare, or opt for a turmeric supplement (available online or any Indian store). Many other foods are anti-inflammatory as well, and incorporating elements of an anti-inflammatory diet can bring forth many positive changes in your health.
Yoga is addictive in a good way. It can involve elements of meditation and pranayama, and can dig into those muscles that are rarely used. It’s common to feel sore after a yoga class, which is a sign that certain muscles aren’t used to being worked. Commit to yoga at least twice a week if you’re a beginner and try different styles and teachers.
Restorative yoga is a gentle, peaceful option that can offer incredible soothing to those with serious aches and pains.
It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new healing regimen. In some cases, conditions or medications may not gel well with home practices. But remember that pain is your body asking for help. Even if it seems to go away on its own, that doesn’t mean it’s not lurking right below the surface. Listen to your body – respond to the cues, and you can relieve minor aches and pains before they become serious ones.
You may also enjoy reading Self Care Reboot: Morning Yoga + 10 Essential Self Care Practices, by Julie Montagu