Getting injured while working out is incredibly common. From pushing yourself too hard in the weight room to turning your ankle while running, it’s important to have a plan in place should the worst happen. Injuries can derail your fitness plans, but there are steps you can take to recover faster. If you leave an injury untreated and get straight back to your training, you risk doing permanent damage. This is why you should always have a plan in place to treat and manage injuries.
Most people are familiar with the RICE acronym, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Here you will find a summary of the steps in RICE as well as other useful suggestions which will help further.
Many people don’t take this step far enough. Rest means that you don’t use your injured limb or muscles for anything. If you’ve injured your leg or ankle, you should avoid walking whenever possible. It might be incredibly frustrating to sit and do nothing after you have been so committed to your health, but it’s essential. While you’re resting, it is safe to use natural supplements such as CBD oil.
When your injured muscle or limb starts to feel better, don’t launch straight back into exercise. You should aim to be pain free in normal daily activities for two days before you start exercising again. And even then, you should ease back in gradually.
Applying something cold to your injured area can help to minimise swelling and inflammation. It can also provide some pain relief as it will gently numb the area. When applying ice to your injured area, you should never apply the ice directly to your skin as this can lead to burns. Instead, wrap it in a towel to provide some protection.
Flexible gel ice packs are often the best option as they can be used time and time again and they conform to the shape of the affected area. Otherwise, try a bag of peas wrapped in a towel. This can be re-frozen when required and will shape around the injured area. Just be sure to throw them away when you’re done!
Compression bandages help to reduce inflammation and are most commonly used in joint sprains. Since it can be difficult to get the tension right on a compression bandage, tube bandages offer an easier solution. These bandages can be worn day and night and you might even choose to wear them once the injury has healed to offer your joints a little more support.
If you decide to use stretchy compression bandages, it’s important to make sure they aren’t too tight as this can restrict blood flow and further complicate your injury. Certain injuries can also be treated and supported with kinesiology tape which attaches to the skin and provides support to the muscles and ligaments. Visiting a physiotherapist will help you to decide if kinesiology tape is right for you.
If appropriate for your injury, you should try to keep it elevated. This is yet another way that you can reduce the inflammation from the injury. You should try to keep the injured area above your heart to reduce the swelling. If you can’t manage this during the day because of work, you should try to sleep with the affected limb elevated. If you’ve injured your ankle, for example, try sleeping on your back with a few pillows under the affected limb.
An often missed step from the RICE protocol is heat. Alternating hot and cold compresses can help speed up your injury healing time. Heat encourages blood flow to the area and can speed up healing times, but it’s important not to introduce heat too quickly. Always wait until at least three days after your injury before applying heat.
To create a simple heating pad, fill a clean sock with rice and tie the end. Pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and then ruffle the rice around, you should feel gentle heat coming from the heating pad. This will shape around your affected area and distribute thermal heat instead of spicy heat. While heating creams might make you skin feel hot, this is just a reaction on the skin’s surface and doesn’t provide any thermal heat.
These are just some of the steps you can take to recover from injury. Follow these and you will be back to your usual workouts in no time.