May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Bodywork, May 1997


Stocking up the athlete's home pharmacy
By Daryn Eller

Far be if from us to suggest that your next run down a rocky trail could leave you battered and bruised. Still, accidents happen, and it's better to come home to a well-stocked medicine cabinet than to limp through the pharmacy, frantically searching for something to soothe your pain. Here's a list of medical supplies you should always have on hand, courtesy of Ed Ryan, medicine coordinator for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

A nonsteroidal anti-inflamatory drug (ibuprofen, naproxen, or ketoprofen) or aspirin, for muscle soreness. "One isn't necessarily better," says Ryan.

Acetaminophen, for pain associated with viral illnesses, such as colds and flu, and injuries involving bleeding, since it doesn't thin the blood as aspirin does.

Cold tablets containing pseudoephedrine, to clear up sinus congestion without causing drowsiness. "Be aware, though," cautions Ryan, "that pseudoephedrine is banned in competition."

Two elastic bandages, such as the Ace brand — four-inch-wide for ankles, six-inch-wide for knees.

Antibacterial soap, for washing wounds.

Hydrogen peroxide, for cleansing open wounds. "It's great for getting the dirt out," Ryan says. "Forget alcohol — it's from the Marquis de Sade school of treatment."

Antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin, to stave off infection in wounds.

Assorted sterile gauze squares.

Zinc oxide-based athletic tape. "The zinc prevents skin irritation," explains Ryan.

Assorted adhesive bandages, including H-shapes. "You'd be amazed at how many body parts those knuckle bandages fit around," says Ryan.

Second Skin brand gel pads, to protect blisters against dirt and infection.

Moleskin, to ease friction on blisters.

Resealable plastic bags for ice, rather than freezer packs, which get too cold (although you don't have to keep them in the medicine cabinet). "Actually," Ryan says, "a bag of frozen peas works the best because it's form-fitting."

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