Having returned from the Tournament of Champions recently, I was interested to see how many professional players still rely on NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil) considering the side-effects regular use can cause. When I asked why an alternative approach had not yet been adopted, I commonly heard that they would like to, however they have not been advised a clear plan in order to effectively replace the easy to reach Ibuprofen bottle. Also, as most players I spoke with, had a celebration period over December/January, getting back into their training in time for ToC resulted in stiff and sore muscles, hence the regular need for ibuprofen.
Chances are this may apply to you as well. It is the 2nd half of your season, you are following the off-court training programme diligently (hopefully??), and you are gearing towards playing your best on court leading up to the end of the season. Stiff and sore muscles are a potential by-product of your hard work and using Ibuprofen once in a while is generally considered fine, but doesn’t a natural and effective long-term plan sound more attractive than continuous use of drugs?
Long-term NSAID use is unfortunately linked to an increased risk of heart and circulation problems and gastrointestinal problems. These risks increase the longer you use the drug. The good news is that more and more studies have been done on natural alternatives that have next to no side effects.
Below is a list of some of my personal favourites that I suggest for Squash players when needed. Some, as listed, I suggest on a daily basis. There are so many other suggestions, however, I’ve tried to keep it brief. Please know it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional prior to starting a new programme, even if it is natural J
- Omega-3 Fish Oil capsules
- Swap vegetable oils, which are high in Omega-6, with Olive or Coconut Oils. This, alongside taking fish oil capsules, will help balance your fats thereby reducing inflammation.
- Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates (including sugars) which add to inflammation.
- Consider a Joint Maintenance supplement – Glucosamine
Post Strenuous match/training session (instead of ibuprofen). Only one of the below supplements is needed, and especially when paired with the cocktail, you will be in anti-inflammatory and pain-relief heaven – I have yet to hear the pair are less effective than Ibuprofen:
- Topical Arnica or Oral Arnica (I prefer Topical)
- Cat’s Claw Supplement
- White Willow bark Supplement
- Anti-Inflammatory Cocktail:
- 8oz pineapple and/or tart cherry juice
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp olive oil
Directions: Swirl together and down, in place of an ibuprofen pill. Plan in advance, place in a water bottle and keep in your squash bag for your post-match needs.
All of this takes a little more planning, but I urge you to explore this as an alternative. The supplements listed are available at most supermarkets and health food shops, otherwise online.
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