If you train on a regular basis or even if you don’t, there is bound to be some part of your body that hurts. It can be an overuse injury, a previous sport injury that flares up, or can simply be something you have never dealt with before. Either way you look at it, the minute a pain pops up you should be doing everything in your power to get rid of it as soon as possible. But what happens when you are icing, compressing, or practicing voodoo to the applied area and the pain does not subside? Well here is a little anatomy lesson and application that may help you in treating future injuries and pains.
No matter what the injury is, the most important thing to do is find a way to promote healing so you can be back in action sooner. The best way to do this: promote blood flow. The more blood flow you have going to an area, the faster you start to heal. Your blood contains oxygen and promotes cell growth and repair to the affected area so you can heal. How can you promote more blood flow you ask? There are multiple answers to this but here are a few.
The latest craze in this area is Rogue Fitness’s product VooDoo Floss. A bicycle inner tube tire works just as well and is 1/4 of the cost but to each their own. This is simply an elastic band that you compress the affected area with. Once compressed you try moving it around as much as possible for 2-3 minutes. When time is up, you take the band off and blood will rush back into the area. This process is repeated multiple times throughout the day depending on severity (the more severe, the more you want to do this). I have seen people get rid of welts on their legs using this method and I myself have used this to relieve sprains and strains from training.
Another method for increasing blood flow is massage. Whether you are using a lacrosse ball, roller, or you have a generous person willing to do it, this is the most common way to increase blood flow. My two go-to tools when it comes to this are a PVC roller and a Porcupine Ball. The PVC is way better than any foam and it applies a great deal of pressure to the areas that I need it most. I will forewarn you that the lighter you are, the less effective PVC is and you may need to use a denser foam product. Those blue foam rollers you can buy at Target are completely worthless. When it comes to more specific areas the porcupine ball is pure torture. A lot of people use a simple lacrosse ball but this device is a lacrosse ball with little knobs and helps break up tight tissue. For me, I have not found a better tool for getting into my shoulders, lats, and scapulae to relieve pain. Every one is different and has their own preferences, but these two work really well for me and they may be helpful for you. By working the affecting area and moving things around, similar to the compression, blood will rush into the effected area and start the healing process. I like this method because you can have pressure applied directly to where you need it and can be as little or as much as you feel necessary.
The last method I have seen be effective for increasing blood flow is electronic stimulation. Now this can be a little more tricky to apply because A) these units are mostly found in physical therapist’s or athletic trainer’s offices or B) the portable, personal units can be quite expensive. The best portable unit I have used/seen is the MarcPro E-Stim unit, due to the higher intensity that can be allowed and the battery life on this device is great. These units have little pads that can be put on the affected area and when turned on the machine will run an electric current through the area where the pads are placed. Just like the massage, you decide the intensity of this method. But unlike the massage this works on a more general area, which allows for this method to be used multiple times throughout the day (if you have your own unit).
Next time there is a bump, bruise, or pain from training remember to get some blood flow going. The sooner you get the blood flowing the sooner you start to heal. There are many more methods than what was talked about. These are a few that have proven over and over again to be effective. The bottom line is you don’t want to be sidelined from training for very long so find what works for you, do it often, and get back into action as soon as possible.