Category Archives: Sports

Managing Knee Pain Due to Arthritis

You may have heard a recent story on NPR about the uncertainty of the efficacy of glucosamine and chrondoitin for helping knee joint pain due to osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is also known as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis, damage to the cartilage causing inflammation, reduced range of motion, crunchiness, and pain.  It can happen as part of the aging process or from repetitive overuse due to work or athletics.

The good news is that the study found that 66% of participants who took the glucosamine and chondroitin supplements reported a pain reduction of around 20%.  The bad news is that 60% of participants taking the sugar pill placebo reported the same reduction in pain.  In other words, a lot of people felt a bit better but it probably wasn’t because of the supplement.  Other participants with more severe knee pain got better results 79% on the glucosamine/chondroitin vs. 54% taking the placebo.

Is spending money on these supplements worth it for most osteoarthritis sufferers?  A larger study is being done but this one certainly raises a lot of questions about how well the supplement that many are spending a lot of money on really works.  With 60% of participants taking the sugar pill getting relief it also sheds light, as many studies do, on how effective your belief that something will work affects the outcome.

What is certain to reduce knee pain for most is to exercise and lose weight.  The article says that losing only 5 pounds reduces pressures on the knee joints by 20 pounds and all types of exercise seem to reduce pain and increase flexibility.

You Don’t Have to Hurt! Take Control of Your Pain

At least once a week I hear things like “I hurt because I’m old”, “I hurt because of my physical job”, “I hurt because I play (insert sport here)”, “I hurt because I sit at a desk or drive a car all day”.   Does this sound like you or someone you know?

Most everyone suffers minor and sometimes major aches and pains from work, play, and life in general.  Overuse and small injuries from playing your favorite sports can cause painful trigger points, sitting all day at work often leads to neck, back, arm, and hand pain and tension headaches, as we age the years of overuse and postural problems can pile up causing pain and stiffness, and old injuries can come back to haunt us.

The real problem is that we accept pain as a trade-off for living, a punishment we must inevitably accept and maybe even wear as a badge of honor (we all know that person!).  It doesn’t have to be this way!   A likely culprit of your discomfort is tension in your muscles and connective tissues.   It doesn’t sound very menacing but plain old muscle tension can cause moderate to severe muscle and joint pain, sleeping problems, headaches, fatigue, and grumpiness.

The good news is that there are simple, non-pharmaceutical, and even pleasurable solutions!  Regular therapeutic massage, a bit of exercise, stretching, and some ergonomic tweaking can quickly get muscle tension and its symptoms under control.

The consequences for not taking control of your pain can be increased chance of injury, and more pain, sleeplessness, and grouchiness.  That’s no good for your or anyone around you.  You don’t have to live with the pain!  Take control and have a better life.

If you have questions about whether massage is right for you please feel free to contact me at 859-576-9409 or ablair@aliblairmassagetherapy.com.

Preventing Sports and Exercise Injuries

Confession time:  I am a weekend warrior.  The last time I was in a gym Harry Potter’s voice hadn’t changed, when I am inspired to work out I’ll go for a week then quit for ten, and I run only when chased.  Still, I will go for a brisk bike ride for an hour in single digit weather, have a full weekend of boundary-pushing white water kayaking, and hike a trail that includes an 800-step staircase (down and back up).  All awesome feats for me but then I spend the next week with an achy low back, neck or both, crippling shin splints, or the inability to climb the measly three steps into my own house.  While I’m confessing:  I also sprained a hip while bowling.  My body has, without warning, decided it is no longer putting up with my crap and is refusing to bounce back to normal in a day or two like it used to.

Sound familiar?  If it doesn’t yet, give it a few years.  It’s January and many of us are in the throes of our New Year’s resolutions to work out more, play more, and be healthier all in the name of having fun, looking sexy in a bathing suit and aging gracefully.  However, if you get injured or are frequently in pain as a result of your new found resolve you’re unlikely to stick to your plan.

Whether you’ve been exercising or participating in a sport for years or are a newbie just getting started there are some basic things you can do before, during, and after activity to reduce your chances of getting injured or having pain that may keep you from your goals.

Go Out and Play!

Spring is in the air and many of us are spending more time outside being active.  If you’re like me you may have been less active and more couch potato like through the winter months and now the warm weather is encouraging you to go ride your bike, take a hike, go for a paddle, run, rock climb, swim, or play your favorite sport with friends.  The more serious athletes among us most likely stayed in better shape during the cold months but are increasing training in preparation for marathons, triathlons, league sports and other competitions.

If you’ve been fairly inactive for a bit it’s easy to overdo it in your eagerness to get out, enjoy the weather and have some fun.  Your muscles aren’t yet conditioned for a lot activity making them fatigue more quickly, more prone to injury, and increasing your chances for delayed onset muscle soreness, that nasty ache you get a couple of days after a good run, bike, or workout.