It’s time for another Austin-area sports medicine 101 class!
You’re an active athlete – chances are at some point you’ll encounter pain or an injury during a sporting activity or exercise. Here are some tips to get you on the road to recovery faster:
- At the first sign of pain, stop. Pain is the first sign of a sports injury. It’s hard for serious athletes to stop during training or exercising, but working through pain doesn’t help – and it often makes the injury even worse.
- Swelling is the first and most common occurrence with an acute injury. The first response for most injuries like this is to reduce swelling. Immediately apply ice to the injury, elevate the injured area above your heart, and use a snug (but not too tight) compression wrap to keep the swelling down.
- Continue with ice several times a day for 20 minutes at a time. A bag of frozen vegetables is a good substitute for an ice pack. It’s important that you never apply heat to an acute injury, as it will increase circulation and, therefore, swelling.
- Medicate as appropriate. Soft-tissue injuries are often painful because of the swelling and inflammation that accompanies them. Many over the counter pain medications reduce pain and reduce inflammation.
- If your pain or swelling hasn’t decreased after 48 hours, see your doctor. Otherwise, begin gentle stretching and light massages to help improve muscle function. Increase the range of motion for the injured area, but slowly. Too much activity or too much of a stretch could cause a re-injury.
- Utilize exercises that target joint stability. After the injury has healed, strengthening exercises should begin – but start slow with light weights and proper form.