I was attending a great continuing education conference in Chicago last year when I came across an interesting product. One of the vendors was promoting Speed Gel as a natural pain reliever option. A skeptic by nature, I picked up a product brochure while the Speed Gel representative wasn’t at the booth. I thought to myself that I did not want to hear the sales pitch that was going to make this product sound like the end all be all. And let’s face it, there are some hocus pocus products out there that have been produced with the sole purpose of making money.
So what even prompted me to even consider this product? I liked the fact that the active ingredients were all natural. In addition, my own shoulder pain had been persisting for over a year, and was showing minimal signs of improvement, even with the addition of rehabilitative exercises and conventional anti-inflammatory medication. I felt it was time to think outside of the box.
So back in my hotel room, I began to research the Speed Gel ingredients as I was pondering over its potential uses.
The active ingredients of Speed Gel fall into one of the five following categories:
- Analgesic (Pain Relief)
- Calendula officianalis
- Bruising and Edema
- Bellis perennis
- Hamamelis virginiana
- Tissue Healing
- Arnica Montana
- Neural Pain
- Aconitum napellus
- Symphytum officinale
- Hypericum perforatum
In addition to thinking outside of the box, my obsessive-compulsive athletic training mind began taking over. Studies show that when pain is present, biomechanics are altered. When biomechanics are altered, the rest of your body begins to compensate and possibly create issues in other areas of the body. Now, I know what you may be thinking…”but I have a very high pain tolerance, and I can push through the pain. “ Well, just because you can push through the pain, does not mean you will be using proper biomechanics. Trust me, I had to learn this the hard way. When most people consider this, they immediately think of a specific exercise of movement that creates the pain, or makes it worse. What I realized was that my shoulder hurt all of the time…even when brushing my teeth!
My point is this. If I could find a way to reduce the pain in my shoulder, I would begin utilizing proper biomechanics with my strength training exercises, but even with daily activities such as brushing my teeth, doing computer work, driving my car, and even eating. And so my self-experiment began.
I would massage a small amount of Speed Gel into the area where I felt the pain. I was surprise to experience a reduction in my pain within a few days. So I kept using it. This is when I began pushing it a little bit too much. As the pain decreased, I returned to barbell overhead snatches, jerks, kettlebell swings, etc. What happened next? You guessed it…my shoulder pain increased. This is where I have to fess up to the fact that I still had not gone to a physician for a proper evaluation of my shoulder. As an athletic trainer, I figured I could resolve my own injury as I had helped so many people do in the past.
Fast forward about another 4 months and my shoulder reached a point that I could not even sleep. My shoulder would catch in a specific position every single time. By this point I knew I had damaged something mechanically that was likely only going to be corrected by surgery. RATS! Taking time off to have surgery and deal with the long rehabilitation was the LAST thing I wanted to do. However, my MRI results didn’t lie. I had suffered a SLAP tear (the long head of my biceps tendon had pulled off a piece of my labrum), the long head of the biceps tendon was frayed a bit, I had a rotator cuff tendon tear, the rotator cuff tendon was impinged, and my acromioclavicular joint (in the front of the shoulder) was moderately arthritic (at the ripe age of 41). DOUBLE RATS! Surgery was needed.
You can imagine as an athletic trainer, personal trainer, and gym owner I was highly motivated to recover from my surgery as soon as possible. Of course I also expressed to my orthopedic surgeon that I expected to do full barbell overhead snatches again. Unfortunately, I was unlucky in the sense that I had several secondary issues arise as a result of my surgery. All of which lead to even more pain. So what did I do? You guessed it, I added the Speed Gel back into my regimen. I became very specific about when I would massage the Speed Gel into my shoulder.
- After my hot shower in the morning
- Before doing my rehab exercises on my own or simply mid morning
- After my ultrasound at physical therapy or mid afternoon for range of motion exercises on my own
- After heating my shoulder at home before doing my nighttime home exercises
Applying the Speed Gel after the tissue has been warmed up allows it to penetrate the skin even more readily. I also wanted to be sure I had reduced my pain as much as possible in order to utilize the best biomechanics possible. I wanted to avoid developing detrimental compensation patterns and I simply wanted to reduce my doggone pain.
What I want to be you understand is that Speed Gel is not a cure for your issue. You must find the source of the pain and properly correct that issue. Speed Gel is a very helpful adjunct in the reduction of your pain and in your recovery process. By reducing your pain, you will increase the likelihood of using proper biomechanics not only in your rehabilitative exercises, but your daily activities such as brushing your hair, putting things on the top shelf, and even driving.
Speed Gel advertises that it helps with sports injuries, Arthritis, Sprains and Strains, Neck and Back Pain, Joint and Muscle Pain, Bruising and Swelling, Shoulder and Elbow Injuries, and Knee Pain. My suggestion is to always follow up the appropriate health care provider to make sure that you actually do the necessary steps to cure the injury. Simply masking the pain will likely bring on further injury. However, decreasing the pain can lead to better function and quite simply just feeling more comfortable.
Please leave a comment on your experience with Speed Gel. I would love to hear from you.