August 03, 2015 4 min read
I'm Dylan, the founder of Battle Balm. I'm writing this article as a follow up for A Case for Using Battle Balm Instead of Ice for Acute Injury. Over a month ago, I tore my ACL during some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. (Thie image above is my actual ACL MRI image.) There was a pop in my knee followed by pain and swelling for a few days afterwards. I used Battle Balm Demon Strength and four days later, I was up and walking fine.
The official radiology report showed that I had an almost complete tear of my ACL, a femoral condyle bruise and a small osteochondral fracture on the medial tibial plateau. Did this mean that Battle Balm fixed my ACL? No way! But it did provide a lot of benefit leading up to surgery.
There are a lot of ways to use Battle Balm in your warm-ups, training, injury treatment, pain management, and rehabilitation. If you haven't already, now you can add pre-surgery preparation and prehabilitation to that list as well! Here are 3 really good reasons to prehab for surgery using Battle Balm.
1. Reduce swelling and inflammation - Right after an injury, there's swelling. That's a good thing as your body is trying to isolate any foreign microbes and begin to clear cellular debris. Once the wound is closed, Battle Balm is a great way to help keep the scab from skin infection with it's natural antimicrobial properties. Plus, massaging Battle Balm into the swollen area with strokes up towards the heart will support your body's blood and lymphatic system to circulate more quickly.
In the case of an ACL tear, many doctors will not operate on the knee until swelling has decreased to a certain level. Though, waiting too long for surgery on an unstable knee can lead to more damage. It's imperative that the injured knee be taken care of, as other joints and structures may also become stressed from overcompensation.
2. Loosen up muscles & soft tissue - An acute knee injury typically follows with muscle tightness. The body reacts to the trauma by tightening muscles (i.e. quads, hamstrings, gastrocnemius) around the affected area. This protective mechanism immobilizes the joint to a certain extent and creates a kind of muscular armor in order to reduce further harm. If you think about it, it's pretty brilliant.
The downside to muscle tightness is that it can hinder the function of the joint and slow the healing process tremendously. If left unaddressed, full recovery of joint function and range of motion may never occur. Battle Balm can be worked into the tight muscles to get them to loosen up and restore mobility. The importance of this cannot be understated. Even though the joint is damaged, the musculature must be relieved of spasm and tightness for full strength and function to return. Battle Balm can facilitate in helping the muscles loosen up quickly.
3. Pain relief - This is the most common use for Battle Balm. It offers local pain relief without the side effects or possible systemic issues (i.e. digestive) that can occur with oral medications. Battle Balm is not taxing on your liver like some NSAIDs, acetaminophens, and opiods, some of which you'll be using right after ACL reconstruction surgery. Obviously, this is a big benefit of using a topical over using an oral analgesic, not to mention the ability to focus the pain reliever on your knee rather than your whole body.
Also, acute knee injury can lower the pain threshold so much that any small movement will cause pain. This is another way that the body reduces risk of additional injury. You may think that keeping the knee immobile would be the best way to avoid the pain and chance of doing more damage. But the body doesn't work that way. It needs to pump blood to heal, which usually requires movement. So, there's a certain amount of pain that you will need to move through to boost your recovery. Plus, moving the knee only within the confines of the pain threshold can put a lid on your ability to improve. It's akin to the idea of wanting to squat 500lbs, but never working your way up to it and giving it a try. If you don't try to approach your pain limit, your body won't magically do it for you. (Obviously, pushing past the pain threshold must be done slowly and in a controlled manner. See your PT or pain specialist for assistance.)
To make a long story short, Battle Balm can be used to help you get past the pain threshold. Use it before you perform your prehabilitation exercises. You can also use it afterwards to help control the pain and irritation that may occur from the exercises themselves.
The key to all of this is that you want to regain as much knee function and strength as possible right before ACL surgery. It significantly improves the outcome and can shorten the rehabilitation timeline. Within 4 days of tearing my ACL, I was able to reduce swelling significantly in my knee and begin my prehabilitation routine in preparation for my hamstring graft ACL reconstruction. This was my chance to put my Battle Balm products to the test. My primary care doctor was impressed with how little swelling I had in the knee and how much ROM I regained in 4 days. He referred me to see the surgeon. When I got to visit my surgeon 2 weeks after my injury, she was amazed that I had recovered almost full ROM and had no swelling left in my knee. She approved me to get in to surgery quickly thereafter.
If you have any questions or comments about how to use Battle Balm in prehabbing your knee for ACL surgery, please let us know!