I've not been walking for the past few days, busy at work for one thing. I also have some sort of niggling knee injury which appeared after last sundays race. I woke on monday morning with soreness around the front left of my right knee, no swelling, but pain when i put my foot down and push through, causing a slight limp. So, rest and let it get better which it is doing slowly. It's not hurting enough to require pain killers, just niggly, but that brings me to the subject of pain.
As I said in an earlier blog, anyone who is looking to complete the Parish, or indeed, anyone walking at all for any distance, will suffer some sort of pain. Whether it in muscular, nervous system, or in the joints, dictate what pain killers are required. My sister is a pharmacist and helps me out with this. Firstly, there are several types of pain, and different ways of combating them. The ones we are interested in are;-
1. Somatic or Nociceptive pain.
This is from pain receptors in the skin, muscles and bones, and are the bodies defense system against heat, cold, and injury. Burns, cuts, bruises and what we are worried about, blisters and muscular pain caused by oxygen deprivation or strains. These are usually treated with paracetamol, weak or strong opioids, depending on severity. My choice when walking long distances is co-codamol, a mixture of paracetamol and codeine and slightly stronger than these ingredients alone, although I try and avoid pain killers normally, trying to find alternatives or find out why there is pain in the first place. Pain killers such as these cause stomach upset as they attack the stomach wall so eat something first.
2. Neuropathic pain.
This is cause by damage or tension on the nervous system, and can result in pain being felt in places that differ from where the damage is. I have recently had what I thought was a hamstring problem which turned out to be knotted muscles in the buttock pressing against the sciatic nerve. This pain won't be in one particular place, but will travel along the path of the affected nerve. Regular sports massage and chiropractic manipulation can help here.
With extreme exercise comes swelling, probably around the muscles and joints and in lower extremities of the body. An anti inflammatory such as ibuprofen from the painkiller group known as NSAIDS can help reduce swelling and the pain associated with it. These work by stopping the production of substances that cause pain, fever and inflammattion and can be mixed with receptor pain killers to attack pain from different directions. I normally take a single co-codamol with an ibuprofen capsule at four hourly intervals, which seems to work for me.
Ideally, you should take what's best for you, what you're comfortable with, and what your body seems to accept. Don't try new painkillers during the race, extreme exercise causes extreme reactions. Always ask a pharmacist or doctor what can and can't be taken and mixed, and don't go over the stated dose, even if your circulation is clearing taken painkillers from your system much quicker than is normal into the race. If a painkiller isn't working, then try a different type. There is also the placebo effect. If you have a headache and someone gives you a smartie (there are other types of chocolate treats available...) warning you that it is the strongest painkiller available over the counter, then there is a good chance it'll work. A, because auto suggestion makes you believe it'll work, and B, because it's chocolate, and as I spoke of earlier, chocolate creates endorphins, natural pain relief.
Don't forget natural pain relief, as I blogged earlier, ginger can reduce swelling, upset stomach and ease digestive problems. Liquorice has strong anti inflammatory effects. garlic and Gingko Biloba greatly improve circulation and the bloodstream which helps pain releif get to the pain area. And, most of all, water. Dehydration is one of the greatest causes of pain as it effects the body in unusual ways, so plenty of liquids, and try and avoid caffeine which is a diuretic.
Always try and find out where and why you have pain. Sore feet, muscles etc are normal from walking long distances, but unusual localised pain is symptomatic of possibly an unusual injury and can be aggravated by continued walking, so make sure you know where the pain is coming from before continuing.
As always, all iv'e written is what I've found and researched on my own, so if anyone has any suggstions or coorrections to my writing, please feel free to cantact and correct me, or if you have any other experiences, please let me know. I'm always open to new ideas and explanations.
One final way of dealing with pain, man it out, grin and bear it. Now, pass the first aid box please...