Guide to common exercise pains

Helpful Tools and Tips

Learn what the pros keep on hand for exercise emergencies.

“Put these cylindrical cushions under your knees while you sleep to take pressure off your legs, help blood flow to your heart, and ease back and leg pain,” says Mitchell.

Tennis ball
“It’s ideal for massaging hard-to-reach spots in your back and hips,” Mitchell explains. “Lie down on the floor with the weight of your body on the tennis ball. This will apply more pressure to the achy spot. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, or until the knot is released.” (Never place the ball under your spine.)

Golf ball
The same idea as above, but the smaller size makes it an ideal tool to use under the soles of your feet while you sit at your desk at work.

Foam roller
Intense exercise can cause scar-tissue buildup, shortening and tightening your muscles, says Dr. Anselmi. Rollers help break it up. For your hamstrings, sit with legs in front of you; place roller under your knees. Using your hands for support, slowly slide legs and hips forward (roller will move toward your butt). Roll back to start.

The stick
A runner’s secret weapon, the Stick ($42.50, thestick.com) is a long tube with six to 18 plastic spindles that rotate against your muscles as you roll it up and down your legs. The intensity of the self-massage is determined by how much pressure you use.

Massage oil
“It reduces friction,” says Mitchell. “Some ointments, like Tiger Balm (tigerbalm.com) also have topical analgesics, like menthol and clove oil, which temporarily ease aches. Use a coin-size drop and massage directly into the sore spot.”

Hot towels
Heat increases blood circulation so muscles become more pliable, allowing you to put them through a gentle range of motion that will speed recovery. “Microwave a wet hand towel for two minutes,” Mitchell says. “Shake it out to make sure it’s not too hot for your skin.” Then roll it up lengthwise and place it on the sore area for 15 minutes.

RICE Refresher
Or active rest, as Dr. Wright says: “Just because you strained an ankle doesn’t mean you can’t use your other three limbs!” For some injuries, low-impact exercise, like yoga or the elliptical trainer, is ideal.

For acute injuries, like a sprain or a fall, ice for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce swelling and limit internal bleeding. Continue for 24 hours, allowing skin temperature to return to normal between treatments.

Wrap the injured area in an elastic bandage to reduce swelling. Wrap from lower to higher on the body, e.g., start at your toes and end at your calf.

Rest in a position that allows blood to flow toward your heart — lying down with two pillows under your legs, for instance.

When to See a Doctor
Signs your injury requires a trip to your doc:

  • Persistent numbness or tingling in your extremities, which could mean nerve damage.
  • Pain that is more than normal soreness and doesn’t go away in a few days, or prolonged swelling and pain that increase with activity and don’t improve with RICE.
  • Pain bad enough that it wakes you up at night.

7 Responses to “Guide to common exercise pains”

  1. July 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I love the information you have posted. I am having a struggle with my mom and all of the pain she is having in her legs. We go to the doctor in the am. Hope all is well. “_

  2. July 14, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I will be praying that all is well!!! Have a blessed day! 🙂

  3. July 14, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    lovely and wise words.

  4. October 16, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    The theme 4 our Monday poetry potluck this week is 7 sins…if you could write a poem related to our theme, link to our potluck, that’s would be a bliss to us, you could simply link in a random poem to share, the pleasure is all yours.
    check out us at http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/,
    our potluck is open Sunday 8pm to Wednesday, 8am.
    Hope to see you in our team this week.

    missing you,
    welcome back to us soon…

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What can I say about me? I am a caring, fun-loving person with goals of relieving my clients pain through the skilled touch of massage. My hope is that this blog will bring information to those who know nothing about massage and help them to make an educated decision about what modality of massage will benefit them the most. You will find healthy recipes, quick and easy work-outs, and the latest in meditation techniques to assist with relaxation. I hope you enjoy my site. Please leave a comment or suggestion, your input will be greatly appreciated.

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