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Caring for muscle injuries

 
gardener
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Location: Wheaton Labs
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I have mysteriously screwed up my rotator cuff. Apparently by...sleeping. It was fine when I went to bed a few days ago, but was not fine when I woke up, and has been painful ever since. This is what comes from switching abruptly between long stretches of desk work and manual labor on a regular basis.

I wanted to mention a couple of things I find useful.

One is my hot water bottle. It is made of natural rubber, and you fill it with hot water and use it to warm the bed in winter. I use it like a heating pad for muscle injuries, as well, except it doesn’t require electricity to use. This provides a degree of pain relief. I also gain satisfaction from finding multiple uses for my minimal possessions.

I also use “Roll Model” therapy balls to work around injuries and sore muscles. They are basically moderately hard rubbery balls that you roll around on and press or twist into your tissues in various ways to improve tissue health and relieve pain. Sort of like a massage without the price tag. They provide significant relief and often fix minor pains immediately. They are miraculous for fixing/preventing tendinitis/bursitis/fasciitis when backpacking. If I only had the discipline to use these preventatively for ten minutes a day, I would probably never have muscle strains. Alas, I am weak and self-defeating. I do prefer the Roll Model brand by Jill Miller, but people use lacrosse and tennis balls as well.

Any favorite tactics for healing sore muscles without conventional medicine or pain pills?
 
pollinator
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One ibuprofen will put me out for the night, so I don't take anything for pain unless I have a full day to recuperate.

A few weeks ago I turned too fast (trying unsuccessfully to get to my landscaping before the electrical team could rip everything up) and it wasn't until I stopped moving that I realized something was wrong. By the time I got back into the house I was limping, and when I sat down it turned into what felt like a major and ongoing cramp in my calf muscle. I immediately wrapped it and kept heat on it for a while, until the cramp went away, then walked (carefully) on crutches for a few days.

My suggestion would be, listen to what your body is trying to tell you. In my case, after the initial injury phase the cramp was worse when I put my weight on my heel--i.e., when the muscle was stretched. There was no pain in ligaments or tendons, although they did stiffen up after a few days of not being used. Strange as it may seem, I wore heels for a couple days because when walking in heels most of the weight is on the toes. The incident certainly drew attention to the oddities of the way I walk, because I often walk toe first on one foot and heel first on the other--of course, the heel-first foot was the one injured.

Similarly, when I throw my back out I look at myself in the mirror. Almost invariably one side will be lower than the other. I wear a shoe or a slipper on that "low" side, which evens things up and allows the muscles to heal without being strained every time I move. Interestingly, the "heel" and "toe" sides match up with the low and high sides when I throw my back out. I also have a rather high bed I can roll out of either onto my knees or into a crouch, making it easier to get out of bed if my back is messed up.

Pain can usually be mitigated or avoided altogether by simple precautions and preventative maintenance, making pain medications unnecessary except in extreme circumstances.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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Thanks! Tucking a throw pillow under my arm (even while walking around the house) has supported the arm and shoulder enough to relieve quite a bit of the pain. I pretty much never take painkillers or medications of any kind, and usually just let my body work things out, but after going on a week of this I am starting to get a bit short-tempered!
 
Lauren Ritz
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So...what is your body trying to tell you? Likely the injury is a compression injury, if it can be mitigated by stretching (the pillow), which makes sense if it happened while sleeping. Make a small roll of fabric (maybe an old t-shirt?) and tie it under the arm and around the shoulder to hold it in place, then try to use the arm (gently). Does it make a difference to the range of motion? Is the pain different? In different places? Adjust accordingly. Essentially you've created a splint that holds the shoulder in the correct (non-compressed) position.
 
pollinator
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Ouch!

I sleep on my back on a dog bone shaped pillow and it has relieved my shoulder issues.

When I get an acute muscle/tendon issue, my go to is oreganol. It is a super concentrated oregano oil that is applied topically. Miraculous stuff!
 
pollinator
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I just started a tread about Trigger Point Therapy and see this thread came up as a similar one.  Some of you might be interested in it.  It is basically the "Roll Model" balls Jennifer first mentioned but I'm using a book, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Davies and Davies that allows you to quickly find the trigger points to specifically work with those balls that are the source of the pain.  Most often where you feel the pain is not the source of the problem.
 
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