Suffering an injury during a workout is not uncommon. Whether you are an elite athlete, training for a marathon, or engaged in everyday exercise, injuries can occur out of the blue and throw you off your game for a very long time. The key to recovering quickly is to know what injury you have suffered and how to best treat it. With that in mind, here is a look at the top injuries received while working out along with tips on how to recover from them and how to prevent them from occurring.
Muscle strain (also called muscle pull) is an injury that is almost unavoidable during exercise. If you workout, at some point you are going to experience a muscle pull and its concomitant muscle soreness. Most muscle pulls are the result of improper use or overuse of a particular muscle, though they can occur with little provocation. Luckily, they are easy to treat.
The magic acronym for treating muscle strain is RICE. RICE stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate. This strategy works for all muscle pulls, whether they occur in the hamstring, the groin, the shoulder, or somewhere else. To implement the steps in RICE, you should stop using the affected muscle for a few days. Then, apply ice regularly to reduce inflammation and add a compression bandage (not too tight) to reduce swelling. Finally, elevate the affected body part so that it is above the level of your heart, which will also reduce swelling.
Sprains (Wrist and Ankle)
Sprains occur when a ligament (a tough, fibrous tissue that connects one bone to another) is pulled or torn. Sprains can affect any ligament, but ankle and wrist ligaments are the most often injured. The key to treating sprains is the RICE method mentioned above. Unfortunately, these injuries often take longer to heal than muscle strains, so they often require longer periods of rest. Ice is very important in reducing pain and swelling of sprains, but only rest can ensure proper, speedy healing.
In rare cases, sprains require immobilization (cast) or surgical intervention. If a sprain has not healed or substantially improved after a week or two, you will want to follow-up with a physician. Over-the-counter pain medications work well to treat the discomfort caused by a sprain.
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, which means that a rounded, ball-shaped bone fits into a cup-like depression of another bone. These joints are highly mobile, which also puts them at a heightened risk of injury.
Most shoulder injuries occur when the muscles that hold the joint together are damaged. These muscles, collectively called the rotator cuff, are prone to tears and pulls. As with all muscle strains, the RICE method of treatment is recommended. Unfortunately, shoulder injuries can take a long time to heal and so patience is required. Don’t return to activity too quickly, even if the pain has subsided. Give shoulder injuries an extra week to heal, even if they feel great, before slowly ramping up activity. If you still have substantial pain or decreased range of motion after a few weeks, consult a physician.
Because of their location, the knees are subject to a great deal of stress from daily activity. They are also prone to injury from falls and slips, events that may prompt you to seek the services of a personal injury attorney. If you do require the services of a personal injury lawyer, click here. If you simply want to treat or prevent knee injuries, read on.
Treat knee injuries with the RICE method described above. In this case, rest is the critical component. Because the knee is such an active, high-stress joint, adequately resting it can be difficult. Stay off of your feet as much as possible and keep the knee elevated any time you aren’t standing. Knee injuries heal slowly, so be patient.
Keep in mind that a proper warm-up prior to exercise is the best way to prevent lower extremity injuries, especially knee injuries. Studies have shown that warming up before an athletic event is the single most effective way to prevent lower extremity injury. Warm-ups not only loosen muscles, they also help to improve balance and coordination, which are critical to avoiding injury.
Shin splits are a type of overuse injury, though their exact cause remains elusive. While generally not dangerous, shin splits can be very painful and last for months. Recommended treatment for shin splits includes the RICE method along with the use of anti-inflammatory medications. Stretching is also effective as both a treatment and a preventative measure. Once shin splits start to heal, it is important not to return to full activity too quickly as this can exacerbate the pain and negate recovery efforts.
Tendons are much like ligaments except that they attach muscle to bone rather than attaching bone to bone. Tendinitis, or inflammation of a tendon, is an overuse injury. Unfortunately, prevention measures are lacking when it comes to tendinitis. If you do suffer tendinitis, which commonly affects the hip, shoulder, elbow, and Achilles tendon, the best treatment follows the RICE method and includes lots of gentle stretching of tbe affected tendon.
Exercise-induced injury is common. In fact, minor injury can almost be expected as a result of physical exertion. The keys to reducing downtime secondary to injury are prevention and adequate treatment. Prevention consists of proper stretching and warm-up routines. Adhere to both diligently. Treatment is based around the RICE method, with rest and ice being the most important components of treating any injury, and also includes the judicious use of anti-inflammatory medications.
Lewis Wild is passionate about fitness. He often blogs about the basics of getting fit and the challenges along the way.