The last thing a fitness enthusiast wants to get injured. Whether this is because of an accident or gradual wear and tear, no one likes to be forced to sit down when you’d rather be in the gym sweating it out. But moments like this are inevitable and if the injury is a major one that takes months to heal or even minor ones that take days, it can be really frustrating. You begin to feel like you’re being held back and are raring to go at it again.
However, controlling yourself to make sure that you don’t aggravate your existing injury is crucial so you don’t stay injured longer than necessary. Learning how to let your body heal, and work around current injuries is also part of the healing process.
RICE for Acute Injuries
Sometimes, through sudden movement or a miscalculation of weight, we suddenly force our muscles beyond their capabilities. This often results in bruising, a sprain, or even tearing a muscle. These are called acute injuries and are always part of the risks one takes when participating in fitness-related exercises. They’re painful and immediately disabling, resulting in a sharp jolt of pain when you put pressure or weight around the affected area.
Of course, you have to eventually get it checked (especially if it persists for longer than the normal) but a good first-aid for acute injuries is RICE, or:
As soon as you’re injured, immediately halt activity and rest it. Don’t put any weight or pressure on it for 24 to 48 hours.
For the first two days, put an ice pack over it for 15 to 20 minutes. This is to reduce any pain or swelling. If you don’t have an icepack, you can use something like a bag of frozen goods like peas.
Most fitness enthusiasts often have an elastic bandage- use it to prevent swelling. Wrap the affected area with it, but make sure it’s not too tight as to not hinder blood flow. Don’t be afraid to loosen it if you feel like it’s too tight.
When resting, it’s best practice to elevate it above heart level. This can reduce swelling, throbbing, or even pain. When sleeping, put a pillow underneath it. Keep it raised as much as possible.
Consume Healing Supplements
While there is no food or medicine that will immediately heal you, you can take some to help the recovery process. Food rich in protein helps rebuild muscles, while food rich in Vitamin C produces tissue building collagen and also helps reduce inflammation. Fish oil also helps as the Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation and help speed up the healing process.
After healing, don’t stop consuming beneficial nutrients. Many foods naturally contain healing elements, and it’s good practice to integrate them into your daily diet. This not only helps you from recovering faster but also helps you build stronger and more enduring muscles.
Make a Habit of Stretching
Prevention is always the best cure, so while you’re still healthy, get in the habit of stretching. Consistent stretching makes the muscles flexible enough that they won’t break under pressure. Gaining complete access to your body’s full range of motion goes a long way in making sure that you’re safe from sudden injuries especially if you’re doing relatively high impact sports.
When injured, your mobility will often be severely hampered. Don’t fall into the belief that you have to cease all movement; as a matter of fact, you need to start moving it the moment it’s possible. You shouldn’t return to intense physical activities immediately, instead slowly introduce movement by making sure that you can still move the joint in the correct directions. There might be pain, but if it’s not debilitating, then the body is beginning to heal. If the pain is unbearable and the mobility is significantly hampered, visit a doctor to make sure.
Seek Professional Help
Of course, if any symptoms or pain persists, the best option is to see a medical professional. It’s difficult to be sure of an injury’s extent, especially through self-diagnosis. A sports doctor or an experienced chiropractor can help a lot in diagnosing what’s wrong with your body and how to prevent it in the future. There is no need to panic with minor injuries, but anything that lasts more than a week or so requires a deeper look and professional attention.
Being injured can really drain your motivation to continue your fitness journey, but keep in mind that it’s just a small obstacle in the grand scheme of things. When you return from injury, you can get back on track to becoming a stronger, fitter, and healthier you.