I dare you.

That’s right, I double dog dare you! (What’cha gonna’ do about it?! Huh?)

If you’re just starting into your spring exercise routine, try this as soon as possible. If you’re well into your routine, just choose the next high-mileage, high-impact, or race day.

After your workout on that day, use arnica oil (yes, you can use gel, or icy hot, or some other something but I prefer just the straight up arnica extract in olive oil –

Arnica Oil
Arnica Oil

I buy mine at People’s Food Co-op and it looks like the picture above. You can probably get it at New Seasons, Whole Foods, Food Front, or the Alberta Co-op as well.) ANYHOO, after you work out choose one leg, arm, what have you (preferably a limb that’s giving you a bit of trouble) and work the arnica oil into the area. And don’t confine it to just where you think it hurts. If your ankle hurts, rub the muscles all the way up to the knee – the big muscle on the front of the leg and your calf.

Don’t worry, you’ll probably feel some unpleasant things – burning sensation (from the rubbing, not from the arnica), tenderness, etc. Don’t hurt yourself, of course, but don’t wimp out either. Go slow, be gentle, but use long gliding motions to strip through the whole area. Take about five minutes to do this and then stretch the limb. After that, leave the oil on.

Why just one limb? Because if you’ve never done this before you will most likely be astounded during your next workout at the difference between the treated and untreated limbs. This is a lesson in self-care. Most likely, the treated limb will be quicker to warm up during your next work out, more responsive overall, easier to stretch, and all around happier.

But, really, why do this? Because I think experiencing this is the best demonstration of the power of self-care. Even if you don’t take time after every workout to take care of stressed-out body parts, this will hopefully persuade you to at least pay attention to the most unhappy areas.

Now, go drink a liter of water!

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Isabel Spradlin
Isabel Spradlin
Isabel Spradlin is a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and abdominal adhesion specialist in Portland, OR. She specializes in educating people about manual treatment (massage) for abdominal pain and dysfunction, especially when it is adhesion related. Please see the "Programs" page to see her offerings.

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