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Dr. Rick's Health Tip of the Month

June 1999

Helping Sore Muscles Recover Naturally

By Rick Allen, DC

Even with the preventative strategies, you are likely to develop sore muscles at some time. Because of heavy advertising, you may think the answer is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen, Advil or Allieve. Think twice. There's now evidence that anti-inflammatories reduce discomfort because they are also analgesic (painkillers), but actually slow healing because they suppress beneficial prostaglandins, agents which help the body heal naturally. Worse yet, taken at typical dosages over a lifetime, the risk of kidney failure increases 7 to 8 fold.

A better natural strategy is to do the following:

  • Drink lots of water -- Even more than the usually recommended 6 to 8 glasses each day.

  • Take 1000 mg of vitamin C and 100-200 mg of bromelain, an enzyme from pineapples, for two days -- These are natural anti-inflammatories. Commercially available herbal formulas may also contain quercetin, tumeric and white willow. White willow is the natural precursor for aspirin, so avoid this if you are sensitive or allergic to aspirin.

  • Do some gentle exercise -- Just like racehorses that are walked out after a race and ridden lightly the next day.

  • Get a massage -- Even though research hasn't proved this to speed healing, athletes reported lower levels of DOMS after massage. In addition, massage has been shown to stimulate neutrophils (white blood cells that fight inflammation). I've treated lots of athletes who will testify as to how much better they feel after a massage. Many of the bicyclists who ride 400+ miles over the week of Cycle Oregon swear by it.

  • Take an epsom salt bath -- or use the pool and hot tub for 15 minutes of relaxation.

The last three encourage good blood flow through your muscles. That's the key to quick, natural healing.

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