While a strain affects muscle or tendon tissue, a sprain is an injury to ligament. The ankle is the most commonly sprained joint, usually the result of a single slip or stressful incident. Combine the correct first aid with some home remedies and you’ll soon be up and running again.
A cold compress is the best and most effective aid (or a sprain. It dulls the pain and decreases the blood flow, which lessens swelling. Ice the area immediately. Keep the ice in place for 15-20 minutes. then remove and leave off for an equal time. Do this four or five times daily for two days. After cooling, keep the sprained body part elevated to prevent further swelling. If you have sprained your ankle, place a pillow under the lower leg so that the leg is straight and slightly elevated. The easiest way to remember how to treat sprains and strains is the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation.
• Wrap the sprained area in an elastic bandage. The compression will help control the swelling. But don’t make it so tight that you cut off circulation.
• Eat pineapple. Its active ingredient, bromelain, can help reduce swelling and speed your healing.
• Apply an ice pack or bag of frozen peas.
• Apply a little rubbing alcohol. This cools and combats swelling; cold wraps soaked in rubbing alcohol area traditional treatment for sprains.
• Carefully rub a few drops of tea tree oil on the affected area to encourage healing.
• Ginger has anti inflammatory properties that help with pain and healing. Try it in tablets or capsules.
• Get the correct shoes for your foot type.
• Spraining an ankle repeatedly can be a sign that your footwear is not giving you the support you need. Shoes designed specifically with an activity in mind can provide appropriate cushioning and traction.
• To relax a cramp in the calf, stretch the muscle carefully against the direction of the cramping, then walk back and forth. In stubborn cases, sit on the ground, pull your toes towards you and stretch your leg out fully. ‘Then gently massage the muscle.
• Rubs containing extracts of menthol, camphor or horse chestnut can add extra power to a massage to loosen up cramps. So can essential oils of eucalyptus, spruce or thyme.
• A lack of minerals, such as magnesium, potassium and calcium, is probably the biggest cause of night leg cramps. These minerals are abundant in fennel, broccoli, bananas, dried fruit, oatmeal, nuts, milk, cream cheese and cheese.
• Cider vinegar provides your body with potassium. Drink 2 teaspoons (10 ml) cider vinegar in 1 cup (250 ml) water every evening for at least 4 weeks.
• If cramps are the result of a magnesium deficiency, taking magnesium tablets is a good idea. Check with a doctor first, however.