Whether you’re a professional racer zooming towards the finish line, or an amateur out on a Sunday afternoon, fitness goals remain a huge part of being an athlete at any level.
In order to reach goals, athletes train their bodies through sweat and perseverance and use their minds to focus on what they need to do to reach the next level. But with the majority of athletes who are training hard, injuries are bound to occur—from a simple bruise on up to strains and sprained muscles. Thus the focus shifts from training to healing.
Most often, healing an injury is approached purely from a physical perspective. Injuries are talked about in terms of painkillers, isolation, rest and rehabilitation, but hardly ever do we discuss the intricate relationship between our body’s physical, emotional and mental well being. Enter the practice of homeopathy.
Homeopathy is a form of medicine that takes the relationship between the body and mind and works to strengthen the vitality of the energetic field called “the body” to promote healing of injuries on multiple levels.
The system and practice of homeopathy was discovered by Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843) and has proved to be an effective form of medicine. Based on the principle of similars, patients take a very diluted-like substance, which produces a similar “vibration” to their illness.
According to The World Health Organization, homeopathy is currently the second most widely used medical modality for primary healthcare in the world, with a whopping 500 million people every year using homeopathic remedies. It’s an inexpensive form of medicine and produces very few side effects.
Dr. Steven Rissman is a naturopathic physician (Naturopath) who uses homeopathic remedies to treat patients at his Denver practice. He believes that homeopathy is effective because it works with the patient by treating the cause of the illness rather than merely treating the symptoms. In terms of common problems that plague athlete’s such as shin splits, knee problems or sudden injuries such as broken bones or torn ligaments, Rissman focuses on a number of areas on top of the injured part of the body.
“It’s important to look at the whole symptom picture including mental symptoms such as memory loss, poor concentration, emotional symptoms such as a restless mind, mood swings and anger along with the physical symptoms to get a complete idea of what needs to be cured,” he says.
Dr. Rissman illustrates the importance of looking beyond just the physical problem as he remembers a cyclist he treated.
“I saw a cyclist with chronic neck problems and she would say, ‘I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.’ She took on a huge amount of responsibility. It was important [for me] to look at the whole person so I could completely understand the case,” explains Rissman.
By looking at the whole picture, Rissman was able to prescribe a treatment plan that worked on both the mental and physical aspects of her injury. He describes this as a case where “her issues were in her tissues” because her neck problem was a reflection of not only her cycling but also of her feeling of overwhelming responsibility in her life.
Rissman recalls another recurrent injury case in which he helped a patient who suffered from chronic ligament injuries. He helped to prevent future injuries by treating her angry state of mind.
“A further expression of her tenseness and anger was in her ligaments and muscles so she was getting chronic sports injuries,” Rissman explains. He notes that the anger and tenseness caused her body to be rigid, “…so since there was no fluidity she would get an injury.” Thus, he treated her both at the physical level to heal her ligaments as well as the mental level to relax.
Rissman has also seen cases where mental illness drives athletes to push their physical bodies to the limit, which means that the mental problem must be treated to halt the physical punishment they are enduring.
“People who work out excessively I often find have extreme restlessness, a stressor that they are running from, or possibly a body image disorder,” Rissman says. “A history of emotional trauma where they are suppressing emotions so they are exercising pathologically. They need to address something on a deeper level.”
Not only does homeopathy work for recurrent injuries and exercising obsessions, but it also helps with sudden injuries and is an effective preventative tool. Thus, Rissman recommends patient’s to put together a first aid kit of homeopathic medicines geared towards their needs.
Following are some common homeopathic remedies that, according to Dr. Rissman, may prove helpful additions to your updated medicine cabinet.
Arnica—A must for any homeopathic first-aid kit. Useful for any trauma, especially with marked bruising or bruised pain sensation. Used after concussion or in postoperative patients for pain and to promote rapid healing.
Ruta—Mainly useful for horrible stiffness in the muscles and tendons. Injury to tendons, ligaments from strain or twisting of joint. Shin splints. Overuse.
Aconite—Good shock remedy after injury, exposure to cold/wind or accidents. Persons needing this remedy may have a fearful look of panic and a great thirst, often for cold drinks.
Belladonna—Helpful for sudden intense heat due to fever, heat/sun exposure. The patient will have a red, hot face, dilated pupils, cold hands and feet, lack of thirst and an aggravation from sunlight, jarring and motion.
Rhus tox—Helps with acute or chronic rheumatism. Aggravation from cold/wet. One who needs this remedy will be restless. The patient is worse with first motion but better after continued motion. Worse in the morning/on rising. Better after a hot bath or shower. Often left-sided symptoms, especially shoulder pain, bursitis, tendonitis.
Bryonia—This remedy is good for any inflammation that is worsened from the slightest motion or jarring. Distinguishing characteristics of those who need this remedy are an aversion to being disturbed, a desire to be alone and quiet, and thirstlessness.
Hypericum—Good for injuries to nerve-rich areas such as fingertips, toes, genitals, teeth, tongue. Shooting pains. Injury to spine, especially tailbone.
Ledum—Remedy for puncture wounds—nails, barbed-wire, including bites/stings with much swelling.
What to learn more about how homeopathy can help you? Find a Homeopath or Naturopath in your area.