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The Natural Route to Pain Relief

Don’t wait until disaster strikes to reduce your use of pharmaceutical painkillers – start now by taking the natural route whenever possible.

Got a headache?  Here, have some Tylenol!

Did you pull a muscle exercising?  Motrin might help!

Pain happens, and there’s a pill for nearly every pain. But what happens if the pharmacies are closed? There are other options besides popping a pill – give these methods a try!

A535 or Sports Rubs:  These analgesic gels can help relieve aches and pains from overused muscles, back spasms or arthritis.  These rubs contain camphor, eucalyptus oil, menthol, and methyl salicylate and heat up on contact with the skin.  If you are allergic to aspirin or if you have coagulation issues, you should not use these rubs.

Arnica Gel:  A natural version of the sports rub, Arnica Gel works to relieve pain in sore muscles or bruises.

Hot Water Bottle:  The very low-tech hot water bottle aids in relieving pain from sore muscles, stiff necks and menstrual cramps. A water bottle applied to the back of the head or neck can help relieve a headache.

Massage:  Massage can relieve muscle pain.  If you don’t have a willing pair of strong hands around, you can use a tennis ball to help loosen up tight muscles. Massaging the temples gently can alleviate a headache.

Gentle stretching: Stretching can work wonders for back pain. NOTE: Therapeutic stretches may cause some slight pressure but they should NEVER CAUSE PAIN.  Pain is your body’s signal to STOP.   With that warning in mind, try these simple moves:

Lay completely flat on the floor.  Pull one knee up to your chest, keeping your other leg straight and flat on the floor.  Hold the knee to your chest by wrapping your arms around it.  If you are able, hold the stretch for 30 seconds to one minute.  Gently release your leg and do the same thing with the other side.

Get on all fours on the floor.  This stretch is called an “angry cat” and that is exactly the position you want to achieve.  Never drop your spine down towards the floor, as this will hyperextend your backbone.  Curve your spine upward and form a downward “C”.  Hold this while concentrating on sucking your belly button in towards your spine.  Release and repeat.

From your all fours position, place your hands flat on the floor.  Then push yourself up with your weight balanced evenly on your hands and feet.  You should be in the shape of an inverted “V”.  This is called “downward dog”.  You will feel a bit of tension in your lower back, but no pain – pain means stop!  Hold this for 30 seconds to one minute, then walk your feet up towards your hands and stand up.

Ice Pack:  In an off grid situation, this may be unavailable.  However, there are packs that can be stored that get cold through a chemical reaction when opened.  As well, in the winter, an ice pack is as close as your back door!  Apply ice packs to bruises, sprains and swelling, as the cold has anti-inflammatory properties.

Hot Bath:  A hot bath can relieve aches and pains of all types including headaches, sore muscles, and joint pain.

Herbal Teas:  Many herbal teas have muscle-relaxing and antispasmodic properties: lemon balm, peppermint and chamomile are among the most common.

Coffee: A heavy dose of caffeine can aid in getting rid of a stubborn headache, including migraines.

Exercise:  A brisk walk releases feel-good endorphins.  This chemical can help reduce pain as well as improving your mood. This is a great natural way to get rid of a headache.

Don’t wait until disaster strikes to reduce your use of pharmaceutical painkillers – start now by taking the natural route whenever possible.  By doing this, when you do need to dole out the pills, your body will be more receptive to the medicinal effects, allowing you to take less and have a faster and more thorough effect.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on September 13th, 2012