5 All-Natural Remedies for Sports Injuries
The Problem: Lower-Back Pain
The Fix: Yoga
Activities like running, cycling, and golf put pressure on the spine, which can exacerbate backaches. For relief, hit the mat: In a recent study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, 60 percent of people who practiced yoga for 75 minutes weekly reported less lower-back pain after three months. Get the benefits at home with a DVD like Yoga Tune Up Quickfix Rx: Upper & Lower Body ($30; yogatuneup.com).
RELATED: The Truth About 7 Big Yoga Claims
The Problem: Muscle Cramps
The Fix: A New Breakfast
Dehydration often causes charley horses and side stitches, but poor circulation and a slow digestive system are culprits too. To prevent spasms, top cereal with a teaspoon of cinnamon, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and half a cup of lowfat milk, advises Susan Kleiner, a SHAPE advisory board member. "Cinnamon opens blood vessels, flaxseed moves food through the intestines, and milk replenishes electrolytes."
The Problem: Blisters
The Fix: Herbs
Applying petroleum jelly limits friction, but it won't repair the tissue. "Instead, rub calendula (a medicinal flower) ointment on the area, then cover with a clean dry bandage," says Amanda McQuade Crawford, a registered herbalist in Los Angeles. "The salve's antimicrobial properties reduce inflammation and speed healing."
The Problem: Swimmer's Ear
The Fix: White Vinegar
"This poolside infection occurs when excess moisture and too little wax throw off the ear's pH balance, allowing bacteria to colonize," says Dale Amanda Taylor, M.D., an assistant professor of otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University. "To kill the germs, use a dropper to place 0.25 milliliters of body-temperature white vinegar (rubbing alcohol works too) in your ear; repeat twice a day for 48 hours."
The Problem: Runner's Knee
The Fix: Acupuncture
Swap the ibuprofen for needles: "Acupuncture increases levels of hormones like serotonin, cortisol, and endorphins in the blood, which reduces inflammation and lessens pain," says Ausra Kaminskas, a board-certified acupuncturist in Washington, D.C. Expect results in one to four sessions. To find a local practitioner, visit aaaomonline.org.