We’ve all been there. Injuries suck, pain sucks. If your reading this you’ve probably just hurt yourself, or want to know and understand what to do if you have. You may even just want to know how to help prevent it in the first place and you would definitely want to know how to stop this from getting worse.
Hot/ cold therapy
Hot and cold therapy can be extremely useful in terms of injury recovery, but which one should you use?
If you have just injured yourself, and you already notice swelling, heat or redness in an area, ice is most commonly recommended. These are usually injuries such as joint strain/sprains, muscle strain/sprains, acute pain after intense exercise. If icing your injury is something you think you need, keep in mind, this should be done immediately after injury occurs.
Ice constricts blood vessels to the area which can negatively impact an injury if not used when appropriate and be sure to only use ice for maximum of 20-minute intervals. If swelling does not subside, seeking medical attention is always advised.
Heat is much more frequently used; this is because its target cases are much more generalised, and timing of application is not a concern. Heat therapy is generally applied to muscle pain or soreness, stiff joints, old/reoccurring injuries.
Heat encourages blood circulation to the area which brings nutrient and oxygen rich blood to the area speeding up the recovery process of injury.
Be sure not to use excessive heat, 20-minute intervals are the most effect way to prevent burning/blistering and do not sleep with heat packs.
Correct training/ build up
The correct training for your body is the difference between injury free superior results and slow achievements with many potential injuries. Research and professional guidance is the easiest and most effective way to ensure your training is correct for you and your body.
Almost all common training injuries occur when someone begins, restarts or amps up their training regime. The most effective way you can avoid protentional injury is by slowly easing into your workload, start slow and increase in small increments to ensure your body and muscular system can keep up with the changes. It is also crucial in any new or increased exercise routine you also pair the increases with your warmup and cool downs accordingly.
Common and acute injuries quite often occur as a result of weak or untrained muscles. Strength training has been a part of sports conditioning for many years to increase speed, strength and agility of the muscular system. An overlooked benefit of strength training is injury prevention.
Improving the strength of the muscular system, pressure is taken off the tendons and ligaments surrounding joints which will assist maintaining correct alignment of bone structures and protect all joints under impact.
If certain muscles are weaker than others, this will cause an imbalance within the muscular system. When imbalances occur, it changes the pattern in which the joint functions (the human body does not like change). The stronger muscles will pull the joint in one direction creating overuse for particular areas which can lead to unnecessary wearing of bones and joints. Ensuring your muscles are strong and balanced, strength training is an extremely effective way to prevent injury.
Not knowing when to rest
Resting is an important part of healing injury, but how do you know when to rest and how long for? Let’s get one thing straight, total/bed rest is never recommended with any injury.
The best way to begin the rehabilitation of any injury, even more severe injury is early mobilization. This means even if it’s just going about your day (carefully) or even going for a 5-10 minute walk. Your body wants to move, your body needs to move in order to circulate blood flow around your body bringing enough nutrients to the affected area.
Your injury will always tell you when enough is enough, although you want to keep moving, that does not mean continuing with your regular routine that included the activity you first injured yourself with. This means what you would normally do, but less intense, depending on the severity and type of injury. Pushing too hard too soon will also increase your chance of reinjuring the area. Listen to your body, take it slow, but keep moving.
Not receiving treatment quick enough
What happens if you don’t receive treatment after an injury?
If you have ever received treatment from a manual therapist, I’m sure you have heard of ‘compensation’.
Compensation begins when your body is not functioning correctly, other areas pick up the load to relieve injured or weak muscles. This begins the moment injury occurs. If you sprain an ankle, you begin to limp, unloading the injured ankle you start using your opposite legs works harder in order to keep the weight baring off your injury. This becomes a problem when you do not keep treatment to maintain the function of the surrounding muscles as well as the supporting muscles.
Training on injuries
Injury will always be frustrating, especially if you are training for a particular event or having to take time off work for your injury. If your injury is stopping you from training or working, the best thing to do is take the time off. Chances are, you’re not a professional athlete, and tomorrow is not the Olympics, we need to keep your future in mind, not just tomorrow.
The priority is dealing with your injury in the most effective way, or at the least, not aggravating it.
The most important thing when getting back to training or working after injury, is listening to your body. Let your body tell you how much to push it and when to push it. Do not do things that “hurt a little.” If it hurts, stop. If it doesn’t feel right, ease off. It might feel better once you get into the work out, this is having more to do with endorphins and adrenalin than it does whether or not you are causing damage or interrupting the healing process.
Not listening to the body
When it comes to healing an acute injury, not listening to your body is one if the biggest mistake that can be made.
The human body is an incredible entity. It has entire systems which keep the body alive and healthy. One of which is the nervous system, this controls the messaging signals throughout the entire body. This is where pain comes into play, your nervous system is what tells your brain there is something wrong, and signals are sent back producing pain symptoms in order to indicate to the rest of the body something is wrong.
Pain and discomfort is what will allow you to rehabilitate an area without the potential of further or future injury.