How to Recover from Exercise-Related InjuriesExercise plays a large part in the lives of many Americans and can improve overall well-being. It’s no wonder so many of us are frustrated when we have to put a pause on our beloved exercise regime due to an exercise-related injury. I see many people in my office with complaints of exercise injuries, some of which can be treated at home. This article explores tips for you to safely recover from a exercise-related injury and get back to doing what you love.
RECOVER FROM AN EXERCISE-RELATED INJURY:Common exercise-related injuries we see in sports medicine are sprains to ligaments (tissue that holds your bones together) and muscle/tendons. This is no surprise, given the latest trends in exercise like High-intensity interval training (HIIT), spin and barre class. However, more common forms of exercise like running, yoga and weight training can also lead to exercise-related injuries.
If you find yourself in pain after exercising, don’t fret! Many of these injuries can be addressed with simple, at-home methods.
The American College of Sports Medicine put out a five-step, easy-to-follow process called “PRICE” to reduce swelling and speed up the recovery process: PRICE P – Protect from further injury. R – Restrict activity. I – Apply Ice. C – Apply Compression. E – Elevate the injured area. “PRICE” is easy enough to remember, but here are some specifics to keep in mind about this recovery method: P – Protect from further injury.
- Splints, crutches and pads are helpful in protecting the affected area from further injury because it minimizes the pressure on the injured area and supports the area. It also helps to immobilize the injured area (think splints, etc.).
- Generally applies to severe strains and sprains.
- Patients should restrict activity for 48-72 hours in order to jumpstart the healing process.
- However, gentle and limited movement of the area is recommended. Your return to exercise should be gradual, with little pain. If you pain increases at any time, you are jumping into things too quickly.
- Applying ice to an injury helps to reduce swelling and inflammation, aiding the healing process. It should be applied as soon as possible following the injury for best results.
- Ice should be applied for 15 -20 minutes at a time, at 60-90 minute intervals. Be sure that you don’t ice for more than 20 minutes at a time and don’t apply ice directly onto the skin.
- Compression, such as wrapping an elastic bandage on an injured area can reduce swelling. Compression should be applied in between icings.
- Be sure to keep the injured body part elevated if applicable. Elevation is in an important step in the recovery process for orthopedic injuries because it limits blood flow to the area, thus decreasing swelling and pain.
SO, SHOULD I STILL SEE A DOCTOR?Many patients ask me how to tell if at home treatments such as the PRICE method are appropriate for their type of injury. The short answer is that it is always a good idea to see an orthopedic professional about any injuries you have so that you don’t delay the healing process by trying to self-diagnose. However, it is worth mentioning that many acute injuries that result from exercise can be treated with at home methods like PRICE. If you see improvements within 48 hours, you’re probably fine to continue to the PRICE method.
So how do you know if you have to come in and see us? I generally advise patients to come in to see me for an appointment if you have followed the PRICE steps and do not see significant improvement (decrease in pain and/or swelling) in two days (48 hours), then it is best to come in and have it checked out by an orthopedist. P.S.–we also have evening appointments, so you don’t have to take off of work to come in and see us!
Do you have any tips to share about recovery methods following an exercise injury? I’d love to hear them–leave a comment on our Facebook page!
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