For the Love of My Kidneys

It’s a fact. Two of my favorite things make my body hurt – knitting and running.

I knit for a living, sometimes more than 10 hours a day. I get tendonitis in my right elbow (I think it’s commonly called “tennis elbow”), and I get pain in the back of my right hand. One time a massage therapist told me that I have the forearms and hands of a world-class athlete. Yay, me!

And then there’s running. Ah, running. After the plantar fasciitis healed, my hip started popping. That healed and currently my hamstrings are so tight that I wince ever time I sit down. (For the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken it down a notch to just walking.)

I’m not about to stop doing either of these things, because I love them so much. My go-to solution for every single ache and pain in my life? Ibuprofen. Has been for years.

I buy the jumbo, 750 tablet bottle. It works so well that I try not to think about how bad it is for me. But I know it’s going to eventually ruin my kidneys.

From “A case-controlled study suggested that patients who consumed 5000 or more pills containing NSAIDs during their lifetime may be at increased risk of end-stage renal disease.”

5000 pills? Ummmm, yeah. I just did the math, and I’ve certainly bought more than 6.6 jumbo bottles in my life.

I’m really trying to cut back. (I’m also trying to kick the habit of drinking a giant Diet Coke every afternoon, but that’s another story.) So I’m trying something new and having really good results with it. I know other knitters get these pains, too, so I’m excited to share.

Who knew rubbing stuff on your skin actually changes what’s going on inside? This is new to me. For the past several weeks I’ve been using Snake Oil products, and taking fewer ibuprofen.

Amy, the co-owner of Snake Oil, is a great gal. I love it when I can buy stuff I need from other small businesses, especially when they’re run by cool people. Here are the Snake Oil products that I’m using daily –

Rosy Boa –

This is what I’m using on my hands. I put my knitting needles down and rub this stuff in right where it hurts. I take my time and give myself a little hand massage, which also must be beneficial. It’s amazing how quickly it works.

Sidewinder –

This stuff is like a volcano of pain relief. It’s what I’m using on my hamstrings and elbow. Again, I give myself a little massage (gently on my elbow, deeper on my hamstrings), and let it get to work. I adore the spicy scent.

Amy is a knitter, too, and she and I have gotten to know each other over the last couple of months. I told her that I wanted to share her products with other knitters, and she suggested offering a coupon code for verypink readers. Love her! Through March 31st, enter “VERYPINK20” in the promo code field at checkout, and get 20% off everything on their site. Such a generous offer.

Aaaaaand here’s a totally unrelated sleepy Tippy photo.

29 comments on “For the Love of My Kidneys

  1. Thanks for the tip. Also saw the Hot Flash massage oil on her website and my mom would love that!! Looking forward to your log cabin quilt tutorial. Can’t wait!!

  2. Aww. Smoochies for Tippy – love when they half-close their eyes. I swear they are expressing major love! This stuff looks really cool. I’m looking forward to using it on my back, too! So psyched about the discount – thanks! Btw – I’m just about ready to reserve the arms on my man’s sweater! But I’ve been looking for a knit-picker for the collar and I can’t find one. Do you have any recommendations for where I can get one?

  3. Have you tried using a foam roller for your running pains? It can be a bit painful to put pressure on your tight muscles (think sports massage) but it’s the most effective thing I’ve tried to make sure my muscles stay loose. I follow a roller routine by the youtube Tone It Up girls.

    I’ve also implemented Chi running techniques and haven’t had any running injuries in over a year.

    I’m going to have to try Snake Oil though.

  4. Thanks for this post Staci! I’m a fairly new knitter and having experienced pain in the back of my hand and elbow when I knit for a few hours without breaks (bad I know). I’ve taken way too much ibuprofen too. I danced in college and for the past few years have also experienced RSI issues with computer work.

    I’m definitely going to try Amy’s products.

    Love seeing Tippy and the other two loves : )

  5. I’m a nurse with chronic back issues, and have taken more ibuprofen in my life than seems humanly possible. The studies are showing an increased risk of stroke with long-term use of NSAIDs (and that’s on top of the damage it does to your stomach and kidneys). You definitely need to find some alternatives. In terms of the elbow/hands, you can look at some topical and natural products – arnica comes in a topical lotion and is anti-inflammatory, there’s the tiger balm which you can get at any Walgreens (just a little bit is very effective, and it smells like Big Red gum). I’ve just gotten through my fourth back surgery, and I only occasionally use ibuprofen for a headache now and then, and take percocet for pain issues with the surgery. I think some of us, unfortunately, are more prone to inflammatory issues than others. Check to make sure you don’t need orthotic inserts for your shoes, which can cause muscular pains (those machines that Scholl’s make where you stand on it barefoot and it tells you what kind of insert would work for you are actually pretty good). Also make sure you do lots of stretching and you may need to move from running to a lower impact workout (like elliptical). I know it’s not the same, but you only get one body and it has to last you a long time.

    Good luck to you and all your sore parts 🙂

  6. Yay! On my shelf I have the same pill bottle as you do! When it hurts, I don’t care about my liver. For the moment, I should say.
    Thank you for the tip & code on the oil!

  7. I had to chuckle at the Diet Coke comment. I,too, have to have a giant Diet Coke in the afternoon. If you can find a good way to kick that habit, I would love to hear it. I am off to check out the website. 🙂

    Thank Staci for the great information and coupon code.


  8. You could always grin and bear it instead of taking something for the pain. 😉 Or, use ice packs on sore muscles… wherever they may be on your body. I am always fighting off some sort of injury to my muscles from running etc. I feel your pain. 😉

  9. After a car accident ( woman ran red light and hit my daughter and me) I am in constant pain! Nothing has helped so far. I ordered all three pain relief oils and pray that they bring relief. I am desperate.

    Thank you so much for sharing

  10. Hi Staci,

    I’m a newish runner and a C25K graduate as well. I’ve done a bit of research on foot-landing form as I’m determined to enjoy this sport to the fullest! I wonder if many of your running-related injuries could be down to heel-strike – landing on your heels? Apparently this causes many more injuries. I was lucky to find that I am a natural forefoot striker and have had none of the usual pain or injury. I believe anyone can change their running style as long as its done gradually and safely. The minimalist and barefoot running shoes apparently facilitate this as you’re less inclined to land on your heels without that monster heel rise many shoes have. There was an interesting article on all of this and a recent Harvard study in the NYT this week actually – it was headlined “Does Foot Form Explain Running Injuries?” – I can email you a copy of it if you like.

    Thank you for all of the terrific knitting tutorials. You are by far the best knitting teacher on youtube – and the production quality is a pleasure. As for those injuries – have you tried acupuncture? Also, (and this feels like preaching to the master…) taking on a new knitting style that you can switch back and forth with might help. I’ve done that myself – I knit continental but I liked your “flick” style and forced myself to learn it so I could use it for long knit sequences – still can’t purl that way though 🙂 Having more than one style has helped me avoid fatigue and repetitive strain.

    Take care and happy running and knitting!

    P.S. Your dogs are sweet and adorable – and obviously adored! I have 4 rescues myself – they are the best-est. My spoiled bunch:

  11. That sounds awful!!

    Christy, you and I think alike!
    I forced myself to learn continental (left hand) knitting last year because my mother kept telling me that I shouldn’t knit as all knitters end up with arthritis due to the repetitive movement. 🙁

    After watching quite a few continental videos on YouTube and spending many months practising, I am now faster with my left hand that I am with my right. My gauge is the same though so I just swap back and forth all the time. Hopefully this will keep any future pain at bay.

    Hubby has started running and does so with Vibram style barefoot shoes. We read so many articles about how they prevent injuries – maybe they are worth a go.

    Good luck.

  12. Thanks for this info. I have a good bit of hand pain when I knit for actually length of time. I am on a morphine patch for pain due to Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and MS and I am very eagar to try this for the pain. I tried some pepper balm but it burned so badly I could repeat it! Thnaks as always for all the knitting help and I hope your aching parts get some relief. I rescue cats not dogs. I have 15 indoor and 24 outdoor, all spayed, healthy, and my house does not smell like cats! I keep 20 litter boxes going and that helps! Wish they were dogs and I could just take them outside. Interesting about the ibuprofen, guess my kidneys are going to go any second!

  13. Take it from me….. stop taking the Ibuprofen. Husband had renal failure 6 yrs ago. The reason was, he was having horrible headaches. Come to find out he had high blood pressure, and didn’t know it. So, he started with the ibuprofen constantly. He just didn’t feel good….

    He had a kidney transplant 5 yrs ago, he is doing well.
    But every chance I get I tell people don’t take Ibuprofen.

  14. Cutting out the Coke should help with the inflammation, and stretching for the plantar fasciitis is what ultimately cured me. My knitting causes “trigger finger” and pain in my hands, but I won’t give it up (as was recommended by my MD), so I’ve taken UDO’s anti-inflammatory enzymes with some amazing success. Just another idea in case someone doesn’t get the results they want with Snake Oil. Thanks for letting us know about the Snake Oil products. I may give that a try, too. We can use all the help we can get!

    Seeing Tippy here made me wonder, are Snake Oil products safe for pets, too?

  15. Hi Char, thanks for the note. I don’t know if Snake Oil products are safe for pets, but I do know that my dogs LOVE the smell! After I use it, they follow me around and just generally want to be near me. It’s cute.

    S t a c i

  16. Hello – Snake Oil Amy here – I saw the pet question and wanted to chime in. Cats should NEVER have essential oils put on their skin. Their bodies can’t metabolize the oils effectively and they could build up to toxic levels 🙁

    Dogs can have essential oils put on their skin, however it must be more diluted. Their bodies are more kid/baby-sized (MOST of them) so they should be exposed to kid-sized doses of essential oil… much like oral medication. Depending on the size of your dog, just dilute the Snake Oil by 1/2 or 1/4 (or more for the tiny guys) with a little grapeseed oil, coconut oil, even olive or cooking oil if that is what you have around the house. Try and get it directly onto their skin instead of the top of the fur so it will be able to absorb and help with their sore spots. It is always a good idea to ask your Veterinarian before trying something new with your animals, especially if they have any special conditions.

    We have not actually tested our products on animals… so… i would LOVE to hear if it helps your little furry friends!!

    And thanks to everybody who has checked us out after reading Staci’s blog post – you guys are awesome! 😀

  17. I came across your website today, will enjoy going through it. Just thought I’d let you know what helped my plantar faciitis. I’ve been fighting with it for about seven years, I’m a painter and spend lots of time on my feet. I’ve tried orthothics, springy shoes, icing, stretching etc, and nothing relieved it completely. I decided to take some glucosamine with chondroitan because I was having hip problems and it took only a day or two to realize my feet have improved along with my hip! So much better, what a relief!

  18. Ahhhh, the old essential oils mixture. Essential Oils have been working for thousands of years, I am so glad to see them coming back into vogue. I use an essential oil blend based on Blue Gum Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) alternating with another based on Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) and other ingredients similar to those in Rosy Boa. I have had training in aromatherapy so am able to make essential oil remedies myself, which is fun too. Medically speaking essential oils are so much less harmful to the body when used properly. And one of the proper ways to use essential oils includes not using the same blend day after day after day. Like anything else your body will become accustomed to one blend and you’ll need more of it to be effective. So while using Rosy Boa is better than NSAIDS, you should try to find something to alternate with it. At bedtime I put a blend based on Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) or Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) on my hands and elbows for overnight relief so I don’t wake up with aching joints. Think beyond the immediate pain, talk to your friend about “preventive” blends too. GOOD ON YOU for looking for more “natural” remedies.

  19. MsSL – just saw your comments and i totally agree with you! Some people have trouble understanding why we have 3 formulas for pain, but you’ve explained it very well. Each blend is similar, but different, so that you can go back and forth as your body adapts. We do have something similar to your Chamomile and Lavender blend, it’s our Original Formula Snake Oil… works great for those achy joints!

  20. I did get a nephrotic syndrome from too much ibuprophen–used it for same reasons you do. Just a gentle warning.

    Hi, Stacy, my knitting is still moving forward, and I am ready to knit a sweater but scared! I have bulky yarn (which I no longer like as I did last summer as a newbie)–but I am determined to use it since I bought 9 skeins! I need help with the pattern (which I am ambivalent about), but I am also open for a suggestion from you on a good first sweater that would be suitable for bulky (Peruvia Quick) yarn and a pattern where I could also see your great videos.

    Vivian Baker

  21. Now I understand what “for the love of my kidneys” means. Please don’t take that so much. I am a RN and it really is bad if you take so much. See a doctor and tell him/her your ailments and they’ll help you out. My nephew is a doctor and he also runs. I’m going to ask him.

  22. Hi Staci,
    I love your website and tutorials and am now knitting dishcloths according to your pattern. I’m also a book illustrator and have had really severe hand and carpal pain in the past from drawing and using a computer mouse. I overdid the knitting last week, so got out a book that cured my pain last time. It has a really good set of exercises and accupressure massage points. It even has a picture of someone knitting on the cover. Here’s a link to it on Amazon.
    If you don’t feel like reading it all, you can just skip to the exercise plan in Chapter 8.
    thanks again for your wonderful work,

Comments are closed.