JUST A FLESH WOUND! – TO RUB, SPRAY OR BANDAGE?

Body repairs and maintenance tips for the undeterred.

Stretching towards 40 I am of an age now where it takes very little exertion to come home with a strain, bump or knock. It is rarely anything too serious, just my mind writing cheques that my body cannot cash!

Let’s face it, Arsenal still might come calling, I am not giving up on staying in good shap, and there is always coaching and international management after that, so best to stay sharp just in case. However ill-advised I continue to try marathons, climbing and many various activities that I never attempted at my physical peak-with predictable results.

When joints are painful and the muscles tight there are a number of localised pain relief options out there on the market. There are creams and gels that you apply directly to your skin- but I had no idea of which ones to use- and when! I will also be doing a blog on the whole host of hot and cold compress wraps and supports to try and help us ailing warriors.

I simply didn’t know what option to choose, and when to use it, and when to seek medical/professional attention. I bumped into an old friend from my rugby days that became an osteopath, so I cornered and interrogated him (at a wedding reception!)- I thought I would share with you my short layman’s synopsis of his advice.

Analgesic Creams, Rubs, and Sprays

These remedies can rather surprisingly differ quite a lot in terms of their ingredients, and their approach to treatment, despite superficially looking very similar.

One approach to pain relief is the use of counterirritants. Have you ever had an ache that you ease by putting pressure, or causing discomfort in another area? It turns out that this is a valid treatment method.

Deep Heat style rubs and spray creams are a good example of such an approach. They will likely use Ingredients such as menthol, methyl salicylate, or a Capsaicin (derived from Hot Chilli peppers) to create a burning or cooling sensation that distracts from the pain by causing a stronger sensation for your body to focus upon. Usefully, heating the areas affected by pain can also allow for greater movement, stimulating your body’s healing naturally. This approach therefore should be adopted over a long period of time to achieve the best effects. Users should be aware these should never be used internally, applied to broken/irritated skin or sensitive areas such as eyes etc.

Other creams, ointments and sprays look to apply localised pain relief using absorption of an ingredient such as aspirin (salicylates) or equivalent. If the area of pain or stiffness is a focussed around a joint close to the skin such as knees, elbows, fingers and toes-this could be the option for you. Unlike the previous category, these creams can contain medication, so you should consult with a medical professional if you are allergic to aspirin or are on blood thinning medication for instance.

Both approaches should be used in isolation- creams under heat-pads or tight bandages\strapping have been known to cause burns and irritation when used together.

Treat the underlying problem

The symptoms I was suffering from manifested in different parts of my body- my neck back and shoulders, as I am sure you will agree-not logically connected. After advice from a friend that was 5 years my senior- (and never injured!) I sought professional advice. I was and unable to wait 6 months for the NHS, so I took the plunge and saw an Osteopath at Bodilight. The results were great!

One session diagnosed a problem with my gait that was responsible not only for the majority of my sporting injuries, but my bad posture too! Two sessions were enough for me, and no embarrassing over sell! I was told to carry on with my exercises and that if I am not in pain, no need to come back!