Rehabilitation Following a Minor Athletic Injured
• Reduce the initial inflammation using the R-I-C-E principle (see text).
• After 36-48 hours, apply heat if the swelling has disappeared completely. Immerse the affected area in warm water or apply warm compresses, a hot water bottle, or a heating pad. As soon as you feel comfortable, begin moving the affected joints slowly. If you feel pain, or if the injured area begins to swell again, reduce the amount of movement. Continue gently stretching and moving the affected area until you have regained normal range of motion.
• Gradually begin exercising the injured area to build strength and endurance. Depending on the type of injury, weight training, walking, and resistance training can all be effective.
• Gradually reintroduce the stress of an activity until you can return to full intensity. Don’t progress too rapidly or you’ll re-injure yourself. Before returning to full exercise participation, you should have a full range of motion in your joints, normal strength and balance among your muscles, normal coordinated patterns of movement (with no injury compensation movements, such as limping), and little or no pain.
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• Rest: Stop using the injured area as soon as you experience pain. Avoid any activity that causes pain.
• Ice: Apply ice to the injured area to reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Apply ice immediately for 10-20 minutes, and repeat every few hours until the swelling disappears. Let the injured part return to normal temperature between icings, and do not apply ice to one area for more than 20 minutes. An easy method for applying ice is to freeze water in a paper cup, peel some of the paper away, and rub the exposed ice on the injured area. If the injured area is large, you can surround it with several bags of crushed ice or ice cubes, or bags of frozen vegetables. Place a thin towel between the bag and your skin. If you use a cold gel pack, limit application time to 10 minutes. Apply ice regularly for 36-48 hours or until the swelling is gone; it may be necessary to apply ice for a week or more if swelling persists.
• Compression: Wrap the injured area firmly with an elastic or compression bandage between icings. If the area starts throbbing or begins to change color, the bandage may be wrapped too tightly. Do not sleep with the wrap on.
• Elevation: Raise the injured area above heart level to decrease the blood supply and reduce swelling. When lying down use pillows, books, or a low chair or stool to raise the injured area.
The day after the injury, some experts recommend also taking an over-the-counter medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen, to decrease inflammation. To rehabilitate your body, follow the steps listed in the box “Rehabilitation Following a Minor Athletic Injury.”
Preventing Injuries The best method for dealing with exercise injuries is to prevent them. If you choose activities for your program carefully and follow the training guidelines described here and in Chapter 2, you should be able to avoid most types of injuries. Important guidelines for preventing athletic injuries include the following:
• Train regularly and stay in condition.
• Gradually increase the intensity, duration, or frequency of your workouts.
• Avoid or minimize high-impact activities such as running; alternate them with low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling.
• Get proper rest between exercise sessions.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Warm up thoroughly before you exercise and cool down afterward.
• Achieve and maintain a normal range of motion in your joints.
• Use proper body mechanics when lifting objects or executing sports skills.
• Don’t exercise when you are ill or overtrained.
• Use proper equipment, particularly shoes, and choose an appropriate exercise surface. If you exercise on a grass field, soft track, or wooden floor, you are less likely to be injured than on concrete or a hard track. (For information on athletic shoes, see the box “Choosing Exercise Footwear.”)
• Don’t return to your normal exercise program until any athletic injuries have healed. Restart your program at a lower intensity and gradually increase the amount of overload.