Confessions of an Aging Athlete

Stiff or sore after sports, yoga, or just daily life? As a not-quite-as-young-as-I-used-to-be athlete, I’ve had my share of bumps and bruises as well as full-on injuries, surgeries and rehabs from sports like running, cycling, tennis and, most prominently, ice hockey. I might not bounce back like a teenager anymore, but luckily, working at Naturopathica has given me some additional options to manage my pain and recover more quickly.


Different types of soreness need different approaches for recovery. Before working at Naturopathica, I instinctually understood what to do when I, for instance collided with an opponent during a hockey match or woke up with a stiff neck. However, I wasn’t always aware of the why behind different treatments. When you’re feeling sore, it’s important to know where it’s coming from and why it’s happening. Why you might need a massage rather than a bag of ice. Here’s how I learned to manage my different types of soreness.


As a hockey player, I’m used to a higher impact sport, so oftentimes, I’m dealing with some type of inflammation. Inflammation is a localized condition that usually involves swelling, redness or bruising. In hockey, it happens if I take a shot in an area where I don’t have much padding like the inside of the leg or on the forearm between the glove and the elbow pad, which always seem to take a beating. Inflammation also happens with other types of physical trauma, like when you sprain your ankle after going up for a rebound in basketball, or if your feet are swollen after walking around in uncomfortable shoes all day. If you have swelling, bruising, or a sharp, biting pain, that’s most likely inflammation. The best remedy that I have found for this type of soreness is our Arnica Gel.

Arnica Gel has been a cult favorite since we first started selling it more than 10 years ago. To create this product, our founder Barbara Close used her knowledge as an herbalist to choose traditional healing herbs that support muscle & joint health. A European herb, Arnica has been used for hundreds of years to ease pain and bruising—necessary for addressing the aches and pains that come with sports and athletic injuries. Arnica Gel also uses Menthol to provide a cooling sensation, which works similarly to icing your muscles or joints. I use the gel along with ice for a one-two punch to restore my muscles.

Tightness and Stiffness

Another kind of pain that I know all too well is tightness or stiffness. This can be a pretty common daily occurrence for anyone, but especially for people like me who sit behind a desk all day at work. I’ve learned that the best way to deal with this type of soreness is with heat, something like a massage to loosen up overused muscles and help them function more easily. Working at Naturopathica, I now know the benefits of a good massage, but there are plenty of at-home rituals you can do to manage this type of pain if you don’t have the chance to make it to a spa.  
Sweet Birch is a warming herb that works on tense muscles. The active ingredient in the herb is Methyl Salicylate, which is the pain reliever used in aspirin. When I apply our Sweet Birch Rub, there’s an immediate tingling sensation that lets me know it’s working.
Personally, I feel stiffness periodically in my neck and shoulder area, my low back, and my calves, the latter especially after a tough workout. Massaging Sweet Birch Rub into these areas helps stimulate blood flow, and my muscles feel looser after applying.


Another great option for stiffness is our Sweet Birch Magnesium Bath Flakes. While those that have bathtubs in and around our NYC headquarters count themselves lucky, a bath can be beneficial for targeting larger muscles like the back or hips. Magnesium has also been shown to help with loosening up the body because of its ability to break down lactic acid, which can build up and cause tightness. When my muscles feel super tight, hot water combined with our bath flakes provides a whole-body solution.


After I suffered a painful knee injury from falling on a run, I started drinking Muscle & Joint Tea and taking Turmeric Muscle & Joint Tincture. They’ve become part of my daily routine ever since. Turmeric has long been considered a natural anti-inflammatory herb that can help reduce joint pain. For me, adding a few droppers of a tincture to a tea is much more relaxing than taking a pill, and the active herbs are better preserved in this form than in a capsule.  


If you do have a chance to make it to one of our spas, I highly recommend our Alpine Arnica Deep Tissue Massage. This treatment was created especially for athletes and uses a blend of healing modalities to address your pain. The treatment features our Alpine Arnica Bath & Body Oil and is customized with either Sweet Birch Rub or Arnica Gel, depending on what your body needs.
As I get older, I try to listen to my body more and rest when I’m feeling overtaxed. Stretching regularly (literally every day) and working on more functional movements at the gym has helped to reduce a lot of my symptoms and keeps me going strong. My Naturopathica product routine definitely helps me feel less sore along the way, so any hurt is more “hurt so good” in nature.
- Ross, VP of Digital and Ecommerce
*Naturopathica loves to share wellness experiences and stories from our customers and our team members. They are, of course, personal insights and not necessarily reflective of the opinion of the Company. Additionally, Naturopathica cannot give specific advice regarding any injury or medical condition and our readers should rely on medical professionals for any such advice.