Can you believe we’re almost at the end of the first week of April already?
I love physical activity. My favorite part of boot camp was the confidence course, and I still enjoy doing extreme obstacle races, can’t get enough of ‘em! I also used to do natural bodybuilding, and really enjoyed my results. But, I’m not going to lie, physical fitness gets more difficult the older you get!
I’ve been diagnosed with chondromalacia patella (my knees are wearing out), I’ve had a stroke, two emergency surgeries, arthritis beginning in my back, and sciatica. All of this ridiculousness makes exercise a bit more painful. But, there’s no reason to stop, when I can take measures to deal with these issues.
I hate taking pills, can’t stand drugs- as a deputy coroner, I’ve seen the havoc they wreak, even over-the-counter stuff. Plus, when you’re trying to gain muscle, it’s the inflammation that makes you progress. So, when you use something anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, there’s the belief that it will undo those gains*.
With the knee pain, back pain, and sciatica, believe me, I’ve tried everything. NSAIDs, steroids (prescription, not anabolic), you name it. But, the thing that helped the most was physical therapy. My knee issues were caused by weak hip flexor muscles, so physical therapy took care of it. I now know what to do to help minimize the pain.
With the sciatica, nothing, and I mean nothing, helped as much as stretching and ice packs. Ever since I learned a few stretches and exercises specifically for sciatica, I’ve been able to keep the pain to a minimum, and it hasn’t hindered me anymore. [Knock on wood!]
In addition to stretching and physical therapy, one of the biggest helps for dealing with fitness aches and pains has been a TENS unit. (TENS is an acronym for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.) Jerry’s chiropractor often used one of these on him, and my sister got one after going through some major trauma. I figured, if it could help them, it could surely help me.
If you’ve never heard of this, a TENS unit is basically a device that sends low voltage pulses to help disrupt and relieve pain signals. They come with electrodes that stick onto your skin, and allow the pulses to transmit.
I’ve had several of these devices, and one of the most convenient thus far is the Santamedical Dual Channel TENS/EMS. The TENS feature sends low voltage electrical pulses through the skin, to the nerve fibers, in order to block the body’s nerve pathways and stimulate endorphins. The EMS (electric muscle stimulation) feature sends low voltage electrical pulses through the skin to stimulate healthy muscles, improving of facilitating muscle performance (Gurin Products, n.d.).
This particular device has eight preset TENS programs, and six preset EMS programs, with each channel operating independently. There is also a timer that can be set anywhere from five minutes to sixty minutes, with an automatic shut-off when it hasn’t been in use for sixty seconds (Gurin Products, n.d.).
If you’ve never used a TENS device, no worries, there’s an instruction pamphlet that makes it super simple- it even shows where to place the electrodes for any need you may have. It also comes with two different styles of electrodes to suit your needs. I also like that it’s very small, and comes with a carrying pouch, so it’s handy to travel with. This will be so easy to take with me for my next extreme obstacle race!
I’ve used this for my sciatica and back pain, while Jerry has used it on his calves for his restless leg syndrome. This is not something we want to ever be without! If you have issues with pain, or need to step up your muscle performance, you should check out the Santamedical TENS/EMS unit on Amazon, they even include the batteries!
Gurin Products (n.d.). Santamedical TENS+EMS. Product packaging.
*It’s important to note that I am not a medical professional. I’m simply using what works best for me, and under the care of my health care providers. I choose to avoid taking medications whenever possible, but sometimes they are necessary and I follow my healthcare providers’ instructions. If you are experiencing any type of pain or have physical performance needs, make sure to contact your professional healthcare provider and follow all instructions.