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No pain, no gain: How you can recover from a weekend of being a ‘road warrior’

Posted on 09 January 2017

It’s Monday morning and your alarm goes off. For the next person, a pounding headache from two nights (maybe even three, if you count after-work drinks on Friday) of hitting back more than just a couple of cold ones, is well, expected. But you’re in a different kind of pain. The kind that drowned in the roaring of your Harley and was completely soothed by the adrenaline pumping through your veins as you rode and rode. And rode.

Say hello to the “weekend road warrior syndrome” — brought on by overexertion, muscular and ligament stress and marked by the inevitable aftermath of pain.

It hits even the fittest of us. Even if you have an Olympic level of fitness and doesn’t spare the best (or worst) of us from the effects of stress and strain on our pain receptors.

Thankfully, there are things you can try to alleviate the pain before contacting the office and lying through your teeth about why you’re calling in “sick”.

Over-the-counter medications
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers are also anti-inflammatory agents, since inflammation underlies pain in a big way. The two best known are acetaminophen and ibuprofen. They are both pain relievers but only ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which also reduces inflammation.

Topical creams and patches
If you have chronic pain, using a topical gel or ointment may not be enough. But it may help with acute pain. The good thing about topical treatment is it won't impact the rest of your body and unlike pills you don't have to worry about an empty stomach or swallowing. The best active ingredient is capsaicin (also the main ingredient in hot chili peppers). That warm and tingly feeling you may experience before the pain relief means its working. After capsaicin, methyl salicylate (an aspirin derivative) appears to be the next best, typified by Bengay cream (aspirin, menthol, and camphor). The aspirin treats pain, the menthol creates a cooling sensation, while the camphor carries the aspirin across your skin (the substance that does the carrying is called a vehicle).

Or you could just RICE it
Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Rest reduces motion and stretch. Ice reduces inflammation, local blood flow and swelling, as do light compression and elevation. Elevation also partly immobilises the injured part so that you don't reinjure it.


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