Exercise is great medicine, and it can and will improve your life and general health. It can also put the body through stress, which can lead to injury, especially with poor form or posture. While some injuries may require medical attention, most minor injuries will heal by simply applying the R.I.C.E. method: REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, ELEVATION. (Add PROTECT to this list if the injury is in a joint area such as ankle, wrist, or knee). If pain and swelling persist, always consult with your doctor.
- REST: Give your injured tissues time to heal. Modify your exercise routine to allow your injuries to right themselves.
- ICE: Use ice to reduce inflammation, swelling and pain. To optimize results, apply an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes after an injury. Repeat each hour for the first four hours, then four times a day for the next two to three days.
- COMPRESSION: Mild to moderate pressure can also help reduce swelling and inflammation. Try an ACE bandage or the like.
- ELEVATION: Whenever possible, keep injured limbs elevated to keep fluid draining away from the damaged tissue. This will also assist in reduction of pain, inflammation and swelling.
A note on Ice vs Heat: You will want to use ice on muscle sprains, strains, and tendonitis, but avoid using ice on muscle spasms (in the muscle belly) as it can cause further pain. Once there is no longer inflammation present, you may want to use a nice warm, moist heat pack to calm and relieve overworked, angry muscles. Electronic heating pads are not preferred.
Massage therapy is a good way to combat muscle soreness and help prevent and recover from injury, as long as inflammation or redness is not present. In between regular massages and your workout routine, make sure you employ proper stretching techniques to stave off injury and shorten recovery times.
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