How to recover properly from an injury
The saying goes ‘no pain, no gain’, and whilst you can do everything perfectly in your routine – including warming up, stretching and building up slowly – you can still strain or sprain your body parts at any time.
Whilst you can’t always control when and how it happens, you can control how you manage it once it has happened. Here are our top tips for bouncing back from a muscle injury:
Recovery can be ‘PRICE-y’, but don’t let that worry you. In fact, you can put your wallet away. PRICE is an acronym that sums up how best to treat a muscular injury, and it means the following:
Protect the injured muscle from any further damage by stopping what you are doing and not putting any further stress on it until you know what is happening
Rest the muscle well for at least 48 to 72 hours before recommencing any activity on the affected area.
Ice the area well for about 20 minutes at a time, every three hours if you can. This should be done for the first two or three days, to help reduce swelling in the area.
Compress the area using a bandage, which helps to limit any local swelling and restricts movement in the muscle, aiding the healing process. Be careful not to bandage too tightly though, as this will decrease blood flow in the area, which will potentially limit the recovery.
Elevate the damaged area by placing it on a pillow. This will help to reduce any swelling in the area.
Don’t HARM yourself further
Again, the acronym HARM gives you some handy pointers about what to avoid for 72 hours if you have damaged a muscle.
Heat, such as hot packs or baths, can increase swelling in the affected area and should be avoided.
Alcohol will increase bleeding and bruising in the muscle, which impairs the healing process.
Running, or any other exercise, should be avoided as this could aggravate the injury further.
Massaging the area, although tempting, can actually increase bleeding in a damaged muscle, so massages are not advised until the healing process is well underway.
Getting moving again
Deciding how soon to get a muscle moving again after it has been injured is not easy, but it is important to get some movement back as soon as it is comfortable, as this helps the healing process. As a general rule of thumb, if you can move the muscle without significant pain, it is good to do so gently.
If it’s not getting any better…
Although it is important to be patient, if you are finding you are still hampered by your injury a couple of weeks after it has happened, or the pain is rapidly getting worse, then it is worth going to see your GP. It may be that the problem isn’t what you first thought, or that it needs input from a trained physiotherapist.