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September 2011

While enjoying our favorite sports regularly can be a great benefit to our health and help us relax with friends, they can also unfortunately bring strains, pains and injuries. From the pulled muscles we all experience from time to time, to more serious problems like a strained lower back, tendonitis and runner’s knee, the list of possible problems is seemingly endless. But packing up the tennis racquet and tossing your sneakers in the trash isn’t the answer. After all, for as potentially dangerous as sports can be, the dangers of a sedentary life are arguably much more severe, not to mention much less fun!

Traditional treatments for injuries vary greatly, particularly for more extreme injuries, but for the most common injuries popular remedies rely on the basics, to include heat, ice, elevation, and quite simply, rest! This isn’t to say that in some cases something more intense or invasive may be necessary, but for everyday aches you may already have the best medicine in your freezer or at your fingertips in a recliner.

In the interest of injury prevention, it is important to remember that stretching is your friend. A flexible, stretched muscle is more able to react effectively and efficiently, so diving for that ball or jumping to catch a pass doesn’t leave you lying on your back. Not sure what to stretch? Sometimes it’s not only the most obvious muscles, so it helps to read up a bit beforehand. Here are a couple important stretches to consider that you might not think of:

For Cycling: Chances are good that you stretch your back and legs well before heading out for a bike ride, whether it be a slow roll through the park or a rigorous uphill climb, but there is another area to consider – your neck. The position of your body while riding a bike can put a great deal of stress on your neck muscles, and you may not be aware of this until you’ve kicked your shoes off and are ready to relax. To help prevent bothersome neck pain, which can make everyday activities like driving tricky or downright dangerous, be sure to continue your stretches past your back into your shoulders and neck as well. They don’t refer to extremely bothersome things as “a pain in the neck” for no reason!

For Walking and Running: We walk every day, so suddenly walking a bit longer or picking up the pace shouldn’t be an issue, right? Not quite. Most of us will never forget the first or worst time we’ve experienced shin splints. Who knew the shin could hurt so much with each step?! So what causes these common, but quite painful, injuries after all? They are the result of undue strain being placed on the lower leg bone, which occurs when your feet don’t fully absorb the shock of a step, and it travels up the leg. This can be because the surrounding muscles are weakened and/or unaccustomed to the level of exercise you engage in, and is often found in conjunction with an inadequately supported arch. Arch supports can be a valuable investment, but stretching and strengthening of the calves is also of great importance.

Simple stretches of the calf and ankle can help a great deal, and warming up helps to provide better oxygen and blood flow during movement. But if shin splints occur in spite of preparation, it’s not too late to stretch! They can take 2 weeks or longer to completely heal, and you should use the RICE method of treatment if they aren’t resolving with stretching (rest, ice, compression and elevation), but as with all injuries, if the basics aren’t resolving the issue, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a doctor and see if something more serious is at play.

In addition to making stretching part of your exercise regimen, and addressing all injuries as quickly as possible, you might want to consider adding another of nature’s gifts to your workouts and daily life – magnets! Some athletes rely on magnet therapy, an alternative medicine, to aid in pain reduction and an overall feeling of greater balance in their bodies. There are no guarantees that you will feel a difference when wearing magnetic bracelets, but it is an addition that many feel is worth the potential boost in general well-being and/or therapy. Some of our customers have told us that they have a “Why not?” philosophy about wearing magnetic jewelry, explaining that magnets are natural and easy to wear, and a potential benefit from something so simple is worth the wear. Plus, our sporty Rally Bands are pretty cool, and a little accessorizing never hurts!

Posted by Jay Roberts at 06:40 PM | Permalink