By Dana Giordano
So you tried something new and now everything hurts, now what? While it is a privilege and time consuming to get frequent body care, think massage, acupuncture, chiropractic work etc., it is still important to take care of our little aches and pains on our own so they don’t develop into injuries. This is exceptionally true at the moment because most therapy resources are closed due to Covid-19. You don’t need access to high end massage guns or Normatec compression boots (which are nice but not necessary) to stay healthy and pain free. There are a few effective self-methods used by professional athletes and physios alike.
Dynamic stretching is your best friend. Before physical activity avoid static stretching poses on cold muscles. A quick yoga flow or some basic legs swings can bring blood flow into your muscle groups. I like to do rotational movements before any activity: running, biking, tennis etc. I start with my head and roll it shoulder to shoulder. Then I move to my shoulders bringing them back, down, and around. I repeat this with my wrists, hips, and ankles creating a circular movement with these joints. This type of dynamic movement is good for general soreness. Foam rolling can also be helpful to release and bring blood flow to sore muscle groups.
So how about a specific “knot” in a muscle? If you find yourself with an acute tight spot some light self massage can help to release the tension. I like to use a massage cream with Arnica to soothe the muscle. Arnica is an herb that is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. If you don’t have something like this, regular lotion or body oil also works as well. To start, use light stroking motions towards your heart. You can gradually work deeper into the muscle but be careful you aren’t causing any pain. After light massage, you can ice the area as well for 10 minutes. I like to do this on my calves after a hard running session to relieve tensions in my feet and achilles.
Soreness is a signal to your body that you did something new and recruited new muscle fibers. While it can be uncomfortable, it is not a permanent state. If you are in a lot of pain it is important to seek professional help. Many physical therapists are offering tele-health services at the moment. It is best to leave diagnosis to an expert so you can create a plan to return to health. Without in-person therapist access be cautious with your activities and be kind and loving to your body.