Natural Therapies for Prevention and Healing
Exercise can result in sore and bruised muscles, torn or stretched ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and broken bones. To prepare your muscles for activity, always warm up your body before beginning your ride. Simple stretching is one of the best ways to loosen up your neck, back, and legs. And remember to cool down after your workout by walking or stretching again.
During your ride it is important to replace electrolytes. To prevent muscle soreness, throughout my ride I drink powdered mineral ascorbate with Vitamin C mixed with water. It is very important to drink lots of water because it helps to flush out the lactic acid buildup that can occur with physical activity and keeps the body hydrated during your ride. For most sports injuries, natural therapies can do much to promote the healing process. The old acronym RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is still recommended for your first response to muscular and tissue injury. We now add BEANS (botanical, energetic, and nutritional supplements) as an adjunctive approach to maintaining a strong body for high-energy cycling.
Doses of Vitamin C over 3,000 mg. daily, for example, can help tissue repair and reduce inflammation. The enzyme bromelain, found in the pineapple plant, is effective in reducing inflammation when taken on an empty stomach. It breaks down scar tissue, decreases fluid buildup, and blocks inflammatory mediators, speeding tissue repair. It also helps clear lactic acid buildup from muscle tissues.
Two more botanicals that work on inflammation are ginger and turmeric, which can be taken in capsule form after a fall or a hard day's biking. Ginger has a long history of use as an anti-inflammatory agent. It also increases circulation and aids the liver's ability to clear toxins. Turmeric contains an ingredient called curcumin that appears to block inflammatory pathways.
Glucosamine sulphate, the material that cushions the joints, has been clinically shown to aid in cartilage repair by working with connective tissues. It is recommended for joint injury to speed healing and for osteo-arthritic joint breakdown and pain and swelling. In therapeutic protocols, dosages are usually 500 mg., three times a day. It can be taken in capsules or as powder added to drinks. Any natural food store will carry it and even some drug stores now have it. It can range in price from $18 dollars to as much as $50 dollars, depending on the form, the size or the company that sells it. In my health food store, we carry a patented product called gs500 with a money back guarantee.
For sore muscles and sprains, the homeopathic remedy arnica montana is wonderful. I will not go riding without this in my pack. It can be taken in tablet form and also comes in a topical gel. It needs to be taken and applied to the sore area immediately after an accident or sprain. It also helps relieve sore muscles after your ride. Arnica comes in different potencies but can be bought in liquid gel for around $4.95 a tube. The tablets sell for $6 to $8 a bottle for 100 tablets in natural food stores or drug stores that carry homeopathics.
These are a few ways any avid cyclist can promote a strong and resilient body. If you are cycling competitively or doing aggressive mountain biking, you may need a more intense approach to working with high-energy nutrients and therapies. For more about top performance riding, read Maximum Performance by Daniel Gastelu and Dr. Fred Hatfield, from Avery Publishing.
David Hawkins is owner of Mother Earth Foods and has been a practicing herbalist and lecturer for more 20 years. You can send comments and questions to David Hawkins 1638 19th St. Parkersburg, WV 26101
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