7 Tips to Minimize Pain and Speed Healing

Pain is often a signal that we’re taught to ignore…

Messages like “No pain, no gain.” or “Stop being such a pussy!” are common in the world of sport and sure, achieving excellence in sport sometimes requires athletes to temporarily disregard pain.

But the keyword there is “temporarily” because ignoring pain forever will only result in more pain in the future.

For those of us who aren’t professional athletes or aren’t trying to win medals, the sooner we can deal with pain, the better.

So here are 7 tips to help you minimize bodily pain and speed healing.

Tip #1: Adopt the “PIC” Principle

You’ve probably heard of RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation to deal with acute pain, acute being within 7 days of doing something that causes pain and/or an injury).

Instead of RICE, this is a better strategy to speed up healing:

P – Pain-Free Movement
I – Ice
C – Compression

As you can see, I suggest you drop the idea of rest in favour of pain-free movement, ideally with the affected area but if that’s not possible, just moving whatever way you can without pain.

The more you move, the more circulation occurs and the faster the healing.

This is most important for joints, because the only way that joints receive nutrition and can heal is through movement, so the quicker you can give it what it needs, the better.

It could be passive movement (i.e. someone else moves your affected joint or you use gravity somehow) or active movement where you move the joint under your own strength, but make sure this movement doesn’t elicit pain, otherwise you’ll create a dysfunctional movement pattern.

I’ve also dropped elevation because I’ve found it doesn’t help that much and is typically impractical, but if you can do it, it won’t hurt.

Tip #2: Avoid Refined Foods

Drop refined foods from your diet, especially sugar, high omega-6 vegetable oils (soy, canola, sunflower, safflower) and flour.

don't eat these

These cause inflammatory effects in your body and can delay your healing.

Plus, they’re just generally good things to avoid, so your overall health will improve as well.

Tip #3: Take Fish Oil

Taking around 3 grams of combined EPA+DHA (not 3 grams of fish oil total) will help decrease achy joints and blunt inflammation.

My good friend, MMA and BJJ stud Jeff Joslin swears by this as when he takes it, he can train hard multiple times a day without joint pain but notices the pain when he’s not on it and I’ve noticed the same thing.

The key is going for the combined EPA+DHA, not total amount of fish oil.

I suggest liquid form with good brands being Carlson, Nordic Naturals and Ascenta – if you’re using these brands, it’s about 4 tsp a day.

fish

Or if you’ve got the skills to feed yourself with fresh fish daily, do so. 😉

Tip #4: Eat More of These 3 Foods

Leafy greens, blueberries and garlic are tops for fighting inflammation.

For the most efficient method, I suggest can eating them all at the same time in a great salad by adding some garlic to lightly heated olive oil, stirring till fragrant, then add some honey and balsamic vinegar to make a tasty honey-garlic dressing that you can throw on a bed of greens and blueberries.

anti-inflammatory-salad

Make a big batch of the dressing ahead of time for even greater efficiency and feel free to throw some mixed nuts on top (but avoid the cheese as cheese is pro-inflammatory).

Tip #5: Take a Turmeric Supplement

purathriveI don’t use turmeric when I cook so I simply take a supplement when I have an injury, as it’s one of the most well-researched and proven anti-inflammatory and joint pain supplements out there.

PuraThrive is the only turmeric supplement I’ve used and it’s a good one but feel free to look to other sources if you want.

Definitely worth keeping in your cupboard because if you can start supplementing right away you can prevent the pain-cycle from messing up your movement patterns.

Tip #6: Get Sufficient, Consistent Sleep

First, you need the right amount of sleep for you, anywhere from 7-9 hours being typical for most people.

This is important because you recover and regenerate when you sleep.

And just as important, you want your sleep to be consistent.

This means going to bed and waking up at the same time.

Obviously if it’s your best friend’s bachelor party you’re not going to bed at 10pm, but do your best to get back on schedule as quickly as you can.

Inconsistent sleep and wake times throws off your circadian rhythm, thus throwing your hormones out of whack.

circadian-rhythm

This can result in increased cortisol, which is the opposite of what your body needs to heal old and build new tissue.

Tip #7: Decrease Your Overall Training Intensity/Volume

If you’re training as if you’ve got a fight coming up and you’re not healing, there’s no wonder why.

I find CrossFitters and runners to be the absolute worst with this – for some reason these athletes don’t know how to dial it back a notch, with CrossFitters always going hard on intensity and runners unable to give up volume.

Tone it down for even a week to allow your body to divert some of it’s energy to healing and you’ll avoid plateauing your recovery process.

There you have 7 tips to minimize pain and speed healing.

Put them to work for you!

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GerryWashington BianchiMaryjacobralph gauthierEric Wong Recent comment authors
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Gerry
Gerry

Brilliant tips i am a world ckass masters athleye and advise others exactly the same butalways need the reminder myself to do these 7things. One week before comoetion is recovery time good onega oils are essential super food blueberries in porriage also great. And tumeric with glucosamine fr inflamation.thanks for the tips even ciaches need reminders

Washington Bianchi
Washington Bianchi

TUMERIC POWDER OR LIQUID? HOW MUCH TO DRINK? I LOVE SALAD. THANK YOU ERIC

Maryjacob
Maryjacob

Thank you so much .Eric you are just about close to a saint.All Ican say God bless you,and the blessings go to your little girl. When the parents do the good deeds the children benefit from it. Thanks again

ralph gauthier
ralph gauthier

buddy my new salad begins tomorrow

Richard
Richard

Some good advice here. Thank you. My challenge is my injured shoulders (within the last 6 months) hinder my sleep. I can only sleep on my back (which has it’s issues – c-scoliosis and a chronically stiff neck and shoulders), otherwise I aggravate my shoulders and, at times, my hands go numb. Getting 7-9 hours sleep is a dream. Most nights I wake up several times (and it’s been like this for over 7 years. From what you share Eric, I’ve been out of wack for a long time. I just started today your SFS so, I’m looking forward to see just what difference it will make.

Need to check out the local health food shop for that tumeric supplement. Not sure I’ve seen it here in Scotland.