Alternatively Speaking: For the Olympian in you

Alternative medicine expert Natalie Marx answers your questions: Which supplements relieve sore muscles after a workout?

Athlete (photo credit: Thinkstock)
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
Q. Dear Natalie, due to excessive training, I have endless pains in my muscles from overstretching. Are there any supplements to help me heal more quickly?
A. There are several nutritional supplements which have long been used to treat muscle strains. Most of the herbs I use for these conditions have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving action.
My favorite of these herbs is Curcumin, one of the principal active ingredients in turmeric. As well as an effective anti-oxidant, Curcumin is key when seeking inflammation reduction.
Ginger is another potent natural antioxidant that is effective in treating muscular strains. Ginger too has anti-inflammatory and analgesic action and many of its nutrients and phytochemicals can be found in many natural supplements.
Horse chestnut is also frequently prescribed in the treatment of muscle strains. Not only taken as a supplement, the gel can be applied topically to heal swelling and inflammation.
Bromelain, a group of protein-digesting enzymes obtained from the pineapple plant, is a fantastic aid to treat muscle-related sports injuries. It works by reducing inflammation and swelling in the affected area.
Don’t forget the benefits of eating a well-balanced diet. Food nourishes the cells in our bodies, and when lacking certain nutrients, the processes required to build and repair muscles slows down and can contribute to muscle aches and pains. Try including more food with anti-inflammatory properties such as garlic and foods containing omega-3 oils, including salmon and olive oil. When training, make sure to eat enough complex carbohydrates and protein to assist your body in rebuilding muscle tissue.
Q. Dear Natalie, as a Yoga teacher, can you recommend any yoga stretching exercises that I can do before I begin my work out?
A. There are several postures which are very beneficial in opening up and stretching the body before a work out. Here are three descriptions of postures which will suitably prepare you both physically and mentally:
Begin with the Cat pose. This is a helpful posture to coordinate breath and physical movement. Cat pose allows renewed blood to flow to the internal organs and helps bring awareness to the spine also releasing any tension in the lower back.
Place both your hands on the floor, shoulder width apart, and your knees on the floor hips-width apart. Inhale slowly and arch your back, opening your chest forward, lifting the crown of your head and your tailbone will lift up. Exhale; arch your back upward, tucking your tailbone in as well as your head. Try to coordinate your breath to the movements. Repeat three times.
Child's Pose is restorative to the blood flow and also to the spine. It is often considered both an active pose as well as resting pose that can be done both before and after your work out. Begin by kneeling on the floor with your toes together and your knees separated as you sit on your heels. Exhale, bring your upper body down to rest on your thighs with your arms stretched out in front of you, above your head and rest your forehead on your yoga mat. Lengthen your tailbone away you’re your pelvis as you simultaneously stretch your arms forward. Breathe deeply in this position for 15-20 breaths. As you inhale bring your torso back up, keeping your arms straight above your head until your torso reaches a vertical position. With your exhale, bring your arms slowly down.
The final posture to increase flexibility and increase blood flow is the Spinal twist posture. It is a lateral stretch for your spine.  Begin by sitting with your buttocks on the floor and your legs bent to the left side of your body. Inhale and bend your right leg, placing your right foot on the floor across the left leg and parallel to your left knee. Then as you exhale, place your right hand flat on the floor just behind your tailbone, inhale and raise your left arm. Keep your right hand in place, exhale and lower your left arm to the outside of your right knee to take hold of your right ankle. Inhale and turn your head to the right, trying to see the wall behind you. You should feel a wonderful stretch across the back. Hold the posture for five full breaths. As you unwind, exhale deeply and repeat the posture on the opposite side.
Q. Can you give any tips on which foods increase and sustain stamina?
A. For improved stamina, the right choice of food is essential. The best way to begin your day is Oatmeal as it provides constant energy for hours. As an unprocessed, complex carbohydrate our bodies are able to digest it slowly. It is this slow digestion which keeps our blood sugar at optimal levels and helps avoid the energy dip that typically comes with faster burning carbs.
Brown rice is also high in complex carbohydrates, which is preferred fuel when taking part in long duration exercise. Since brown rice is also high in fiber, it helps to slow the absorption of carbohydrates, therefore providing a steady release of energy.
Beans are high in iron which is used by the body to make red blood cells, carrying oxygen to working muscles. Since they are also high in protein, they slow the digestion of carbohydrates creating a sustained energy release. A traditional combination like beans and rice provides lots of sustained energy. Lastly, our bodies rely on red blood cells to supply oxygen to our muscles during exercise. Since they are high in iron, leafy greens, such as spinach, support the body's production of red blood cells. Their high fiber also helps keep our blood sugar steady.
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.
Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment, including a women’s clinic every Wednesday. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom.

To make an appointment please email [email protected].

Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question at [email protected].

Someone Once Said: "Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states." Carol Welch