4 Ways to Properly Manage Knee & Ankle Pain

Therapist attending to injured sportsmanSports and other recreational activities can create overwhelming strain on our bodies. Young athletes often experience joint and muscle pain as they push themselves to improve performance. In terms of location, knee and ankle strain is a common complaint and can lead to serious injury. Knowing how to quickly address these aches and pains when they surface will help keep you healthy and active.

4 Ways to Properly Manage Knee & Ankle Pain

  • Use Ice Correctly. Most of us have heard time and time again that ice is a great way to deal with pain, but it’s also important to use ice properly in order to maximize the benefits. Ice is beneficial for decreasing inflammation and swelling. It also lessens muscle cramping or spasms and allows you to alleviate the pain. Avoid using ice immediately before physical activity, if the pain or swelling involves a nerve, if you are prone to hives from cold or if there is a wound/sore on the skin.
  • Use Heat Correctly. Now that we know there are times when ice is beneficial for managing pain, it’s important to understand when heat can also be used. Heat increases circulation, inflammation and is most useful when warming up stiff or scarred tissues before stretching. Because heat can increase swelling, it’s important not to overuse it or use it after physical activity when inflammation is already heighted. Also, avoid heat immediately after an acute injury or when they body temperature is elevated from fever or heat stress.
  • Apply Pain Relieving Gels. Topical pain killers, or analgesics, are sprayed on or rubbed into the skin over painful muscles or joints. Although all are designed to relieve pain, different products use different ingredients. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about which cream is best for your specific symptoms. Make sure you never use them with a heating pad, as this can damage the skin.  Also, don’t apply them under tight bandages or onto wounds and damaged skin.
  • Utilize TENS Therapy. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a drug-free and noninvasive treatment for pain. It works by placing electrode pads on the area of pain. Mild electrical currents generate heat to relieve stiffness, improve mobility and alleviate pain. This treatment is believed to stimulate the body’s production of endorphins or natural pain killers. This therapy can be used for both acute and chronic pain conditions but should definitely not be used by anyone with a pacemaker as the electrical current could interfere with the operation.

Local parents often ask me what it is they can do to help their young athlete manage their sports-related aches and pains. The methods of pain management I recommend definitely depend on the severity and duration of the injury, but I also strongly urge parents to have their child properly evaluated by their family doctor.

Stop by New Visions in Coldwater to see our line of pain relief products that can benefit you!

Are your Ankles Weak?

Woman stretchingWhen we get ready for activity or exercise, we don’t really think about, “are my ankles okay?” How do you avoid injury and keep your ankles healthy? The muscles and tendons around ankles are vital to keep you healthy and moving. When athletes or active people get moving, they put stress on the ankle and in order to keep from getting injured, you need strong muscles around the ankle and lower leg.

Popular Exercises to Keep Your Ankles Strong

  1. Ankle Circles. Simply sitting on the floor and stretching your legs out and then pointing and flexing your feet up and down and side to side will truly help your ankle strength. Also try doing circles with your foot, stretching the ankle even more.
  2. Alphabet Letters. Use your big toe as the pencil and try to trace in the air the alphabet 2-3 times on each foot. This is a great overall stretch.
  3. Toe Raises. While sitting and legs are straight, pull your toes back toward your body and hold for 10-15 seconds, then point feet and hold again for 10-15 seconds. This is a great stretch for your ankles and legs.
  4. Heel Raises. Point your toes away from you, and while keeping your legs straight, gently lift from the heel. Repeat this for 10-15 reps on each ankle.
  5. In and Out. Turn your foot inward and hold as long as you can and then turn it outward and hold as long as you can. Repeat this activity on each ankle 10 times. You can also do this exercise from a chair and add a resistance band to your foot to develop more strength. You can also try tying a band around your foot. Hold the other end of the band with your hand and move your foot (while pointed outward) in and out, holding the position for 10-15 seconds. Repeat several times on each ankle.
  6. Balance Exercises. Standing on one foot and trying to do a squat or throwing a ball will build strength in your ankles. If you repeat the process 10-15 times on each side and hold it for 15-20 seconds and you will build the ankle strength.

These are just some of the ways to build your ankles so you can continue to live a healthy lifestyle. Last week, we had a mother in the store that was worrying about her daughter’s ankle strength and how could she help her daughter after an ankle injury. I suggested using the LaserTouchOne, giving her the opportunity to try it out for a week and see if it helped. After just a couple of days, she came back and bought one. She said the relief her daughter had was amazing! Her daughter can now put pressure on her ankle and is on the road to recovery much quicker. LaserTouchOne is just one of the many products we offer to help with pain management at New Visions.

Stop by our store today in Coldwater and see our line of pain management products to help your athlete or active lifestyle.