Injured muscles? It’s your body, you deserve the luxury

Summer’s here, Wimbledon’s begun and local parks will be filled with the ‘poc’… ‘poc’… sound of tennis as inspired fans live out their own moment of glory. Hopefully there won’t be too much screaming. Not the screaming of the De Brito or Kournikova, but the cries of your doubles partner on the floor as he realises he’s just got cramp.

Of course there are various treatments to try when the muscle ache sets in. But the most important thing to do is to rest. The game is lost, take a break and live to fight another day.

It’s recommended that you don’t over-exert the injured muscle for at least two days and that you apply an ice pack as soon as you can. The ice is crucial because blood vessels have burst and you need to stop them causing further trouble to the muscle as soon as possible. Heat treatment can come later but ice should be used first for 20 minutes at a time. Ice also helps relax your muscle to stop the cramp. Compression with a bandage and raising up the injured area (above the heart) will also help get the injury under control.

Once you’ve done this you can begin to work on bringing down the inflammation. There are lots of ways to do this from luxurious baths to snacking on pineapple and getting a good night’s rest. Basically it seems like getting a sport’s injury is just a good excuse to treat yourself (which, of course, is what really got me interested in writing this blog).

There’s obvious stuff like taking asprin and ibuprofen, but don’t let that stop you pleading to your loved one to provide a satisfying massage. The stimulus takes your mind off the pain, reduces stiffness and increases blood flow. Get your them to rub in some tiger balm or comfrey root cream too (Seven Seas do a product called Comfrelieve – comfrey has been found to work well with ibuprofen). Other options include a mint rub or arnica balm – all have the effect of having a cooling or warming effect which effectively distracts from the pain. A hot bath or heat pack does the same thing as a massage and, like a good massage, takes away the lactic acid which contributes to the pain.

While you are in that bath try adding some essential oils from peppermint, rosemary or ginger – all are noted for their anti-inflammatory properties. Another herb that is said to work wonders is St John’s Wort, but truly, the list of naturally occurring anti-inflammatory treatments is endless ranging from tumeric to lavender, from emu oil to wild yam. Epsom salts dissolved in the bath will also melt away some of that pain – they contain magnesium which can be absorbed through the skin and is crucial to helping muscles work.

And, finally, feast on some slices of fresh pineapple – it contains bromelain which is regarded as a powerful anti-inflammatory. It’s not certain how much pineapple you’d need to eat for it to have suffficient effect, but after such a hard, gruelling game of tennis, I’m pretty sure you don’t need much of an excuse to treat that poor bruised body of yours, now do you?

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