I often find myself casually browsing the web or switching through the channels when I’m at home after a tiresome day at work. It’s during these times that I hope to relax and displace any negative or worrisome thoughts. It’s “me time.” Unfortunately, such a utopian-like, solitary and leisurely existence isn’t entirely possible. The minute the TV is turned on, I’m bombarded by ads offering a medication and/or supplement for [fill in the blank]. As consumers, we’ve become so accustomed to seeing these sorts of ads and their nearly limitless list of side effects.
“This product may cause nausea, diarrhea, insomnia and suicidal thoughts.” We’ve all heard them. They’re becoming so vast that the FDA is considering limiting the lists of side effects that are associated with these ads.
Whether you’ve had a loved one stricken with illness or have experienced it yourself, all of us go throughout life pondering, worrying and cautiously aware of the fact that, we too may experience health ailments at some point. We don’t need the medical or science world to break this news to us – illness is real and it affects people of varying age, race and socioeconomic status.
A staggering 45% of the population suffers from some sort of chronic disease, generally characterized as some ongoing and incurable condition, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease. Moreover, nearly 70% of Americans are taking some sort of prescription medication at this time. This is where the problem lies.
As a society, we too heavily rely on medications, ignore the FDA’s endless list of possible side effects and, in turn, diminish our comprehension of what we’re actually consuming (or even suffering from). We’re left thinking, “there has to be another way.” Luckily, there are several.
Athletes are a particular subset of the population that has recently gained attraction for their use of non-prescription based therapies and treatments. As an elite group of professionals in the sports world, these are people who undergo and withstand grueling physical demands on a day to day basis. Their entire careers are based around the performance of their bodies. On the surface, however, they’re not any different from you and me. Sure, they see the commercials and are offered pills to pop left and right. But like us, many would opt for a more natural treatment, easier on their body, where the “unknown” (or ignored) externalities aren’t as prevalent.
In the last few years, there has been a spike in the practice of alternative forms of therapy by athletes. These therapies have been used for both current athletes as a form of maintenance, and also by former athletes to assist in alleviating their overuse injuries.
Of all of the alternative treatment methods, Earthing is certainly the newest amongst athletes. However, it’s likely the oldest when it comes to practice.
Earthing represents the benefits associated with establishing a direct connection between your body and the earth’s surface. Through toxins, stressors, and injuries, our bodies build up an unhealthy amount of free radicals. These free radicals, in turn, are responsible for increased inflammation and damaging cells.
By connecting your body to the earth’s surface, you’re able to absorb the surface’s nearly limitless supply of free electrons. Studies suggest that these electrons act as antioxidants, assisting your body with better blood flow, decreased inflammation and improved sleep.
Aaron Rodgers, NFL MVP and quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, recently cited Earthing as part of his newest regimen to stay on top of his health. According to a local Milwaukee newspaper, he “took an interest in the book, Earthing, which has gotten a lot of attention in the health and fitness world.”
Aaron Rodgers said that, the “[Earthing] book is fascinating. I always try to get a little ‘earthing’ in, which is kind of tough around here right now. If it’s too cold, I actually have a pad that I can lay on from time to time.”
Pads are just one of the many Earthing products that have entered the marketplace since the contemporary wellness trend grew popular. Companies likes Juil manufacture and sell Earthing shoes, designed with copper through the sole to connect the wearer to the Earth’s surface. For times when going barefoot isn’t realistic (or appropriate).
As a 5000 year old form of exercise, yoga offers a wide range of benefits and potential performance improvements. The practice of yoga has shown to produce improved flexibility, balance and core strength. There’s no question that all professional athletes have rigorous training sessions where they practice many repetitive movements and actions. By focusing on the spine, core and strengthened center, yoga minimizes the possible overuse injury mentioned above and creates a full range of motion, which is vitally important for professional and amateur athletes alike. Moreover, yoga is known for activating those muscles and areas of the body that otherwise would be ignored. It is truly a full-body exercise without the monotony of weight lifting or running that often grow old quickly.
The word “massage” often bring about thoughts of an afternoon dedicated to the spa or on the beach while on vacation. Sure, massages offer a great deal of comfort and relaxation but, more importantly, when done correctly and professionally they offer significant relief of tension in areas of the body that are injured or overworked. There are many types of massage, including deep-tissue, Swedish and sports massage.
This form of therapy works by applying a therapeutic touch to a body’s muscles, ligaments and tendons. Sports massage, in particular, focuses on those points and muscles that are experiencing (or have experienced) some level of discomfort. Athletes typically use massage as a year-round treatment method for their performance – during training, after a performance, or when having suffered an injury.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of Eastern medicine (originating in China) and continues to be practiced to this day. Many people, upon first hearing the description of acupuncture, immediately cringe and turn down the idea because it involves needles. As someone who has received acupuncture treatment a number of times, I can attest to the fact that there is nothing painful about this practice. In fact, it’s one of my favorites.
As with massage therapy, for example, you can tell the doctor where you’re experiencing pain or discomfort in order to receive a more localized treatment. Acupuncture works by applying needles to points on your body within the meridian channels/lines. By applying the needle in a certain point along the meridian lines, Oriental medicine suggests that blockages within the blood and Qi channels are released.
As you can see, there are a variety of naturopathic treatments that should be explored by all of us – whether we’re treating a specific illness or not. As a society, we need to break our reliance on western medicine, and look elsewhere for more traditional methods that can be just as, if not more effective.