Injuries occur for a variety of reasons. Traumatic injuries occur when contact or force is too much for your muscles, joints or bones to absorb. A sprained ankle, a twisted knee, a fall off your bicycle or a collision at second base are examples of this type of injury. Overuse injuries are a gradual breakdown of body structures. They can often be prevented and are generally caused by any one or combination of the following:
Pain is an indication that something is wrong, so listen to your body. As your injury progresses, pain will increase and/or occur earlier during exercise. Swelling, redness or warmth-to-the-touch are also signs of injury and inflammation. Seek medical attention to begin your road to recovery.
When the injury occurs, you can take an important first step by following the RICE first aid principles.
R (REST) Don't be a hero! Stop whatever you are doing if you get injured. If you continue to exercise, you'll create more tissue damage and be out of action longer.
I (ICE) Apply an ice pack to the injured area for about 20 minutes. Wet cold penetrates faster than dry cold, so place a wet washcloth between your skin and the ice pack. If you don't have crushed ice readily available, a bag of frozen peas or corn works nicely! Apply the ice pack 3-4 times per day as long as pain and swelling are present (before work, after work and before bed). Ice helps prevent swelling and slows down tissue metabolism to reduce damage.
C (COMPRESSION) Applying pressure helps prevent swelling. The more swelling that occurs during the initial injury, the longer your recovery time. Use an ace wrap to secure the ice to the injured area with some pressure. Watch for blue skin or cool skin temperature below the injury site. Your wrap may be too tight.
E (ELEVATION) Raise the injured area at or above heart level so the force of gravity won’t contribute to fluid accumulation at the injury site.
The primary concern of an injured athlete is to maximize the healing process and reduce lost time from exercise. Ask your doctor for a physical therapy referral. Rehabilitation from an injury involves three phases:
Anti-inflammatory drugs may help alleviate swelling. Your doctor can advise you about medication.