There is one competitor in BJJ that you can’t avoid or beat and thats the common cold! Unfortunately there is no immunisation against it and no instant cure. All of this I was reminded about when I was hit with a cracking bout of cold and sinusitis last week! I wasn’t just off the mats but also refusing to leave my duvet for a few days. So I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks to help you cope and recover the best you can.
Stop! – Accept you have a cold and rest. Training whilst full of lurgie will not make you any friends. Sharing isn’t caring in this case. If you have any aches and pains then total rest is the only solution but if it just “above the neck” then you can try light stretching or weights if you feel able. Just remember to wipe your equipment clean after usage. But ultimately rest and recovery is your friend.
Epsom Salts – I have epsom salts baths when I have muscle aches anyhow so when I have a cold isn’t any different. There are various old wives tales regarding the magnesium in them helping to heal and detox the body but regarding of that a hot bath, epsom salts and some aromatherapy (think eucalyptus or lavender oil) will help you relax. The steam will help with your airways and congestion and it will also help you get a decent sweat on to support beating that lurgie! Just make sure you stay hydrated.
Neti Pot – It took me ages to try one of these as I thought it was gross. In fact it was trying to get better for a competition that pushed me into trying it as I was willing to try anything! I wasn’t wrong it is gross but it also really helps. A neti pot is designed to rinse debris or mucus from your nasal cavity. You basically rinse warm salt water through one nostril through the sinuses and out of the other. As you do so it washes out various gunk! This article is a pretty good guide on how to use them. The best thing is ultimately there pretty cheap to get hold of and have very little in terms of side effects so there isn’t much to lose by giving one a try. At home we have a ceramic one but I also got a cheaper plastic one to use when travelling from Amazon.
Chicken Soup – It’s not an old wives tale! As well as containing fluids, being warm and generally being quite comforting. Its pretty nutritionally well balanced (especially if you go for a health broth with lots of veggies) and easy to digest. It also contains carnosine, and it’s this that studies suggest helps reduce that stuffy, congested feeling in your nose and throat. It’s thought that carnosine minimises inflammation in the upper respiratory tract by stopping the migration of white blood cells. Homemade soup is generally considered best but when I’m ill cooking is seriously a challenge so your more likely to spot me with a tin of Baxter’s Chicken Broth!
Vitamin C – Whenever I’ll or run down I take Berocca or a non-branded alternative. Now I know there is a ton of conflicted research regarding the benefit of vitamin C. Personally my view is that its a water soluble vitamin. At worst case I’m just getting extra fluid in and at best I’m actively helping. In either case it makes me feel better and you should never underestimate the placebo affect!
Tea & Sympathy – Ok drinking too much caffeine when your sick can actually dehydrate you but tea has role to play. Tea contains antioxidants which people claim helps. You can add honey which can help soothe sore throats and a warm hot drink can just help ease your symptoms for a little while. Plus there is something very soothing about curling up with a warm cup of tea when feeling sorry for yourself!
Honey – is pretty well known as helping soothe a sore throat and a quick google will show a host of homemade remedies. But it can also act as a cough suspressent and in a study in infants helped reduced night time coughs. My view is that it’s a case of something that pretty much can’t do any harm so I’ve been known to have a teaspoon before bed to help with my throat.
Heart Rate Monitor – I have started to keep a passing eye on my heart rate. I don’t have a posh monitor and just use my iPhone so its not the most accurate but its useful. Now it isn’t a great predictor of overtraining and falling ill as a number of things can increase your heart rate. However when your body is fighting an infection it increases (mine went up by over 20 bpm). It returning back towards normal is a good sign your winning the fight so to speak.
Keep your brain busy – If your really getting withdrawal symptoms from your BJJ fix then this is the chance to catch up on other BJJ related things. Read a book, catch up on podcasts or raid in the internet. Its not as good as rolling but it may take the edge of things!
Hope you manage to pick up a tip of two that helps but feel free to share anything you find helps beat a cold and gets you back on the mats quicker!