If you have ever suffered a sports injury you will understand the pain and frustration that comes with it, daily activities are hard enough let alone getting back into your usual workout routine. Pulled, strained and injured muscles all deserve a time out, but how long is enough or how long is too long?
How bad is the injury?
Firstly you need to be honest with yourself and assess just how bad your injury is. Minor injuries cause immediate pain, swelling and soreness in the immediate area; these injuries are usually from a pulled muscle or ligament and usually only last a couple of days. A second degree injury can cause muscle damage and decreased strength, expect symptoms to last from a few days to a couple of weeks. The worst muscle injury causing very significant pain and usually needs medical treatment such as physio or even surgery, these injuries can las months before your feel better again. Once you have figured out how bad your injury is you can move onto the treatment stage.
Treatment differs depending on the severity of the injury. All injuries should have ice applied as soon as possible, by applying ice a few times a day you will greatly reduce the swelling and it will also help with the pain.
For mild injuries it’s pretty straight forward, ice, rest and elevation should heal you up quickly and get you back into your workout within a few days, start slowly and let pain be your guide, if something you are doing hurts then stop and wait a bit longer for your injury to heal.
Moderate injuries will also need ice, rest and elevation to allow healing. If pain begins to worsen or isn’t improving after a week then get it assessed by your DR. you will not be able to use your strained muscle in your workouts until its healed, again let pain be your guide.
For more severe injuries a visit to the DR is warranted. Follow the DRs Instructions and ensure you follow up with any medical advice given. Rehabilitation will usually be recommended to help heal your muscle and prevent further injury. You can go back to exercising when the DR gives you the all clear.
Remember that no matter the injury, doing too much too soon can further aggravate your injury causing more rest time or possible complications.
Most muscle injuries are caused by lack of experience, weak or tight muscles or overuse. Firstly always ensure you are properly warmed up prior to a workout, no matter what it is, tight, cold muscles are prone to injury and it only takes 5-10mins to warm them up and have them ready to go. First timers or newbies to exercise may perform certain exercises wrong which can lead to injury, ask for help if you are unsure. Newbies also will have weaker muscles, so start slow and work at your own level. Another cause of muscle injury is over use of the muscle. If we exercise too hard or too much the muscle has no time to recover and it will tear. 30-60mins daily is enough and don’t work the same muscle group if you are still sore from the day before. Also get in the habit of stretching and cooling down after your workout, this will release tension in muscles and prevent injury.
Prevention is key but injuries may still occur. Assess the injury, give it time to rest and treat it appropriately, by following this advice you will be back into your workout and back to reaching your goals!