Now that the warmer weather is here people are out and about being more active! While exercise is fantastic for your overall health, injury, whether by overuse or by chance is an unfortunate possibility.
Injury from activity can occur in the soft tissue (commonly muscles, ligaments and tendons) – for example a sprained ankle or muscle strain, or bone. Depending on the nature of the injury, sometimes the internal organs may be involved as well. In the case of a soft tissue injury, taking a few steps on your own can help to decrease pain and speed healing time.
What happens when an injury occurs?
Repeated exercise commonly produces low level of damage to the muscles, which is necessary to stimulate the muscle to respond and grow stronger. However, when the stimulus is greater than the body’s ability to respond, injury can occur. Following an injury a whole cascade of events begins, resulting in the signs of inflammation that we recognize – heat, pain, redness, swelling, and in some cases, loss of movement of the affected part. The body does this to begin healing the tissue. When the inflammation is prolonged or increased this is where problems can arise.
The main goals in treating an injury to prevent damage are to address the injury as soon as possible and when necessary seek medical attention (to rule out fractures and more serious damage).
The acronym ‘PRICE’ describes the most common way to treat an acute injury:
Protection: to avoid further damage to the area
Rest: to avoid further damage in the initial stages of healing
Ice: to help decrease pain and inflammation
Compression: using pressure or a bandage on the area, which helps to limit swelling
Elevation: ideally above the heart, to help limit swelling
In addition, some natural anti-inflammatory agents can be used (check with your health care provider first): e.g. tumeric, ginger and other plant-based enzymes. Foods containing omega-3 fats (fatty fish (e.g. wild salmon, sardines, herring), flaxseed, chia seeds), green tea, and darkly coloured fruits such as blueberries are also inflammation fighters.
Depending on the extent of your injury, you may need additional help from a health professional to return to your fully functional glory! Additional therapies such as massage, acupuncture, ultrasound, hydrotherapy and graduated exercise are useful and may be warranted.
Ultimately, the best way to deal with an injury is to prevent one, so be sure to play safe while having fun!
Article Written By Dr. Nicole Henry
Follow her on Twitter @Henry_ND