Seasoned athletes and beginners at any fitness activity both have one thing in common: aches and pains. They’re part of any sport or physical hobby, but you have to protect yourself from lasting harm. Even with the right protective gear you can still overdo it on the track or take a tumble on the field. When you do get hurt, it’s important to take a break and let your body heal. Here are some tips to treat the 3 most common fitness injuries.
Sprains are some of the most common injuries in any physical activity that can have a lasting effect. They can feel mild, or as painful as a broken bone. Some sprains do need to be looked at by a doctor, while others can be treated at home. Doctors recommend using the R.I.C.E. method of treating sprains immediately after they occur: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. First, stop all activity that would use the affected area. Then, to reduce swelling, ice the area and compress it with a wrapped bandage. To further reduce swelling, elevate the sprained area above your heart. You can also use over-the-counter pain medicines. If the pain does not subside or worsens, see a doctor to provide further treatment.
Muscle Aches, Cramps & Strains
It’s a certainty that with physical activity, your muscles will be tired and sore for the next day or two. Some muscle strains may need extra attention. To help prevent these conditions, start by stretching before and during the activity. Stay hydrated, too! Epsom salt baths and plenty of rest can help relieve sore muscles. If muscle pain persists, take a day or two off to see if it improves. Contact a doctor if you start experiencing any sharp pains from the injured area.
Contact sports and high-impact activities often cause bruises. They typically show up as dark splotches on raised, tender areas of skin. Sometimes a harder impact can cause what’s called a “bone bruise,” which may or may not have the same appearance, and a deeper ache. Treatment for bruising is simple, though you want to keep an eye on it. Make sure to rest and protect the affected area – repeated injury can make bruises even worse and possibly cause blood to clot. There are topical products you can apply to the area to speed recovery, too. If a bruise gets larger, or you don’t see or feel improvement after a week, consider contacting a doctor.
Before You Get Hurt: Wear Your Protective Gear!
The first step to preventing injury during fitness activities is to wear the proper protective gear. The common injuries listed here are minor compared to what might happen if you’re not prepared. If you’re in a team sport, your coach should have recommendations for the equipment you should buy to stay safe. If you are starting a solo activity, make plans to not only buy the gear you need to take part in the activity but what you need to buy to protect yourself, too.