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  • Proper Care and Recovery from Injury

    Posted on February 2nd, 2010 Patricia No comments

    Did you know that nine out of ten people, at one time or another, will get injured? These injuries can occur from either working out or as you go about your daily living. This article shows how to care for muscle pulls and joint sprains and how to prevent them from happening.

    Did you know that nine out of ten people, at one time or another, will get injured? These injuries can occur from either working out or as you go about your daily living. Here are some ways to prevent and care for injuries such as muscle pulls and joint sprains.

    When you get a muscle pull or joint sprain, follow the RICE technique: Rest….Ice….Compression….

    Rest. Take it easy for a while. Stay off of the injured area if at all possible–at least 1 to 2 days depending on the severity. You have sustained an injury and your body needs to start the repair process. The recovery time is dramatically reduced and most complete if you rest the area. One reason some people keep getting the same injury in the same place repeatedly is failure to let the injury “fully” heal.

    Ice is nice. When your body sustains an injury, it responds by flushing blood to the injured area and promoting swelling to the surrounding tissue or joint. You need to try to prevent or at least reduce the swelling. For the first 2 days, try to ice the injured area for 10 to 15 minutes each hour. I know it sounds like a nuisance, but make a strong effort. You’ll recover more quickly if you do. After the first 2 critical days, apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes 3 times a day. Just like taking medicine; morning, noon and night is best. Continue the ice for as long as you have the pain and/or swelling. Heating pads definitely feel good, but the heat promotes swelling. So wait until all the swelling goes down and the pain is eliminated before you start with the heat.

    Compression. If you have to walk or use the injured area, it helps to wrap it with an elastic bandage (like Ace wraps) or some kind of compression sleeve. The compression adds support to the injured area. Be careful, though, to not wrap it too tight and cut off your circulation which will give a false sense of security. You still need to rest the injury before resuming your normal activities.Elevation. The idea behind elevating the injured area (at or above the level of your heart) is again to reduce swelling. Any area below your heart level gets a vigorous blood pump.Okay, that’s the RICE technique. Now, you’re probably telling me there’s no way you can take 2 to 4 days off from doing everything to follow this regiment exactly. Well…you’re right. Probably nobody can and does. However, the more closely you follow this “ideal”, the more quickly your injury will heal.Now for the “how to get back” process. After about 2 days of complete rest, try moving the muscle or joint to get back your full range of motion. Easy stretching of the area is also good for the range of motion and eliminating any scar tissue buildup. After the swelling/pain is gone and you get back full range of motion, start light exercises to fully strengthen the injured area.

    How can you prevent getting muscle pulls and joint sprains? Before you go “all out” in an activity, warm up first. Gradually get to your “all out” level of effort. Stretching is also important to keep ligaments, tendons and muscles from getting injured. Some people don’t think you need to stretch before the exercise. I stretch both before and after. Stretching before prepares my muscles for work, and stretching after loosens them up and starts the recovery process.Cross training also helps reduce the occurrence of injuries. For example, instead of running all the time, work in some bike riding or swimming. This cross training reduces joint and muscle strain and lets you maintain your aerobic conditioning.

    Finally, use the correct gear. It’s not wise to run outside in shorts and a t-shirt when it’s 40 degrees. You’re just asking for a pulled muscle. The use of appropriate jogging shoes takes a lot of stress off those knees. Use what our modern technology has given us.

    Most important, don’t overtrain and definitely don’t ignore minor aches and pains. Those little aches and pains, if felt over 3 or 4 consecutive days, is a definite sign of a possible impending injury. Take this sign for what it means, REST and/or BACK OFF THE INTENSITY. Listen to your body!

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