If you’ve been dealing with pain in your back, neck or shoulders for a while, chances are surgery has crossed your mind at least once. It’s a common solution for many problems, particularly if you’re talking to a surgical doctor. Sometimes it’s the only solution, but often there are other routes you can take before going under the knife.
Alternative medicine has a stigma, and for good reason. Modern medicine is based on sound science and incredibly advanced techniques. Alternative medicine isn’t always effective, but it’s generally lower cost and lower risk than many modern techniques (like surgery). For that reason, many are worth trying.
A group of researchers tested a bunch of alternative therapies and published a study. Here are some of their findings:
Kinesio Tape (KT Tape):
This is a type of athletic tape you put on areas of your body to increase awareness and range of motion. It has some effectiveness if you’re injured and want to keep working out because it slightly decreases pain and increases your range of motion. However, there’s not much strong evidence that it helps. It’s very low cost and there’s almost no risk, so it’s worth trying.
Surprisingly, the researchers found very little benefit for sports massage. It makes you feel better and can help decrease soreness, but it doesn’t help much if you’re dealing with injuries. They note that more research needs to be done, so the jury is still out on this one.
There’s some specific evidence that acupuncture helps with problems like carpal tunnel and lower back pain. So, for specific injuries, it might work. However, if you’re just sore and need to recover, it’s probably not going to help.
Similar to acupuncture, there’s some evidence that cupping helps with specific pains, such as the shoulder, neck, and back. Due to the low risk and potentially high reward, it’s recommended for people with pain in those areas. The only problem is there are so many different types of cupping, no one is sure what’s best.
Blood Flow Restriction:
Using a cuff restricts blood flow out of your limbs (it basically makes your limbs swell with blood) you can train with light weights and still gain muscle. This is extremely helpful if you’re recovering from injury or surgery and need to build muscle without using heavyweights.