No one invited niggles to the party, but it is not uncommon for them to join anyway. They might show up at work if you happen to stand on your feet all day, or during your run or even at the gym. If you have been particularly active, hiking or walking, it is not uncommon to experience them either.
But what to do in case it strikes? We’re here to help!
Don’t ignore them
Niggles describe soreness, tightness or feeling of discomfort occurring at a specific part of your body. They may be uncomfortable, scary or annoying - we’ve been there and completely get your frustration. But these are signs sent by your body for you to pick up. For example, tightness might prompt you to stretch more, discomfort might indicate you need to strengthen certain muscles, or reduce your rhythm and load to let your body recover.
Use the RICE method
If you play sports, you might be familiar with the ‘RICE’ method but it can also apply to you if you tend to stand a lot. When you start feeling a niggle or fear it might be coming, make sure you:
- Rest - if you feel pain or discomfort, take it easy or stop. It might be dangerous for you to continue at the same pace without causing more damage. If you’re at work, it might be more difficult to take some time off. In this case, be religious about taking breaks and structuring your day so that your body gets more time off and can heal properly.
- Ice - apply ice packs for 15minutes at a time and repeat this as needed. Ice is a very efficient tool for recovery and rehabilitation in sports and if you don’t have any pack at home, frozen peas will do the trick too!
- Compression - this will help blood to circulate to the rest of the limb. But careful, if it goes numb, release the bandaging or remove compression sock, elastic bandages…
- Elevate - Make sure to elevate the niggle. It will be higher than the heart, which means there will be less force within the damaged vessel and reduce swelling.
Switch to cross training
If you picked up a niggle during your latest run and you are unsure you can still train, switch to cross training to reduce impact. There will be plenty of options if you don’t fancy stepping on a cross trainer at the gym or if you want to avoid high impact sports. We promise you will definitely break a sweat anyway! But be aware, make sure your pick doesn’t endanger your existing pain. You can try out: rowing, swimming, cycling, yoga, walking, aqua jogging, rock climbing, cross country skiing, weight lifting, mountain biking…
Eat good food
This tip might not have a direct palpable effect on your niggle, but it has more effects than you think. An overall balanced diet will limit nutrient deficiencies, which will more likely impair your muscles’ ability to recover faster. To achieve this, limit ultra processed foods and meals, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and protein. According to Healthline, it is recommended to get at least “1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight”.
Sleep well and limit stress
Sleep has a significant impact on muscle recovery. If you have been standing on your feet, making sure that you sleep enough and improve your sleep quality might be an easy win to stay away from niggles or recover from one. How does it work? During deep sleep (representing 40% of total sleep time), brain is rested which means the blood supply available to muscles increases. It is then logical that more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to muscles, which help them heal and grow. So, instead of scrolling social media endlessly or watching another episodes, get to sleep!
Seek out professional help
Despite all mentioned above, if pain is unbearable from the beginning, if you can’t put weight in the area or if your discomfort causes immobility, you should seek out advice from professionals. As adults, it is often very easy to discard injury as we’re often stretched with time and prefer thinking it will just go over time. But ultimately, an serious injury might get worse over time if it remains untreated. Without appropriate support, it might take more time to heal, and more importantly it might have an impact in your work, your sport etc.