Sports injuries can occur quickly in a distracted moment, resulting in strains and bruising. Dr. Frank Meyer, a general physician and expert on holistic medicine, explains how we can treat such injuries naturally.
Common sports-related injuries include strains and bruising. What happens to our muscles in such cases?
Dr. Frank Meyer: Strains are caused by the sudden, violent overstretching of our muscles, tendons or ligaments. This is usually quite painful. A strain can cause damage to the muscle tissue, causing it to swell in response. With a strain, however, there are no visible ruptures, in contrast to tears of muscle fibres or fascicles (bundles of muscle fibres). Bruising or contusions results from force occurring from the outside in, for example by a direct blow or the impact made upon falling.
In the case of a strain or bruise, when is it advisable to see a doctor?
Dr. Frank Meyer: Such injuries should first be treated using physical measures such as cooling, elevation of the injured body part and compression, using a bandage as well as the application and ingestion of arnica preparations. You should be examined by an experienced practitioner or orthopaedist if the pain does not recede within several hours following this initial treatment. You should also see a doctor if you cannot place your weight on the affected body part, if you must limp instead of walking properly, if you can feel dents or bulges in the muscles or if there is visible bruising. Any injuries to the abdomen, chest and skull must be medically examined.
We sometimes experience muscle soreness after sports. How can we treat this or prevent it altogether?
Dr. Frank Meyer: Muscles become sore after sports due to transient metabolic disturbances in the muscle as well as hairline tears in the muscle fibres. Muscle soreness stimulates our body’s natural healing processes, which not only repair our muscles, but also strengthen them and adapt them to increasing demands. People who regularly exercise their muscles encourage an ongoing, lively, healthy process of conversion, which is naturally accompanied by slight soreness. But if muscle soreness lasts longer than two to three days, or if it impairs mobility, I recommend optimising the metabolism by ensuring an adequate intake of fluids and wholesome, fresh vegetables that are rich in minerals. Moreover, in contrast to acute injuries, it is not cooling but heat that is called for. What can help after sports, for example, is taking a warm shower, followed by gently massaging Arnica Massage Oil into the damp skin. Warming teas with ginger, for example, along with gentle stretching exercises after sports also stimulate our muscle metabolism and our body’s natural regenerative powers.
Which of arnica’s special properties make it a good medicinal plant for the treatment of blunt injuries?
Dr. Frank Meyer: Arnica reduces inflammation and swelling, which helps to relieve pain. These properties come into effect when arnica is applied externally, for instance as a damp compress with diluted arnica essence, or as a gel or ointment. We also benefit from arnica by ingesting it, as globuli in the homeopathic potency of D6. This special preparation is prepared from the whole arnica plant (arnica, Planta tota) and is based on the principles of Anthroposophic Medicine.