Injuries - Part 2
Examine the Injury - We are not even going to discuss serious trauma, as if there is something serious going on, you need to seek medical assistance immediately, whether that be via ambulance or a hospital visit under your own power.
Next, there is a term called progressive overload. This is the training concept that you should continually challenge yourself from workout, to workout in order to constantly improve and not plateau. As you work out, however, you are aiming to damage or "injure" your muscle tissue. This is one main focus of exercise, as after we have damaged muscle tissue, the body responds by rebuilding the tissue to be (potentially) bigger, stronger, and more powerful than it was before. This is still classified as an injury and should not be taken lightly. After a serious workout, either later in that same day, or the beginning of the next, your muscles will feel sore. Virtually all of us have experienced this. That is the process of broken down muscle tissue that the body is rebuilding. You must give at least 48 hours after a serious workout like this to allow a muscle to full recover, or you will set yourself up for potential injury down the road.
Non-serious trauma usually occurs in soft tissues. These include strains, pulls, twists, jams, etc. You generally do not need to seek medical help immediately, but you should absolutely end your workout at that point and make a doctor's appointment as soon as possible to asses the damage that has been done.
Step 1 - First of all, try and assess your injury. This is pretty instinctual as human beings. When we feel an injury, our attention is focused on it almost immediately. Check to make sure you are not bleeding, or disfigured too badly. If you can move, it is best to move yourself to a safe location (if you are not already in a safe location) and have somebody contact emergency services if needed. This is a great reason why it is good to workout with a partner. Too much movement can result in further injury, so as long as you are in a safe position, you should stop moving.
Step 2 - If emergency care is not necessary, then you should elevate the injured body part above heart level, and get some ice on the area as soon as possible. For example, if you feel you have sprained your ankle, you are going to elevate your ankle above chest-height which may require you to lay down, and put ice on your ankle. Icing and elevation helps reduce swelling. If something such as your finger or hand is injured, 10 minutes of ice is great. Something larger, such as an ankle or shoulder should be iced for 20 to 30 minutes. Let the area warm up completely before re-icing. Shortly after an injury, you should ice up to 5 times a day!
Step 3 - Do not exercise right away after an injury, as you will want your body's resources focused on repairing the injury rather then repairing broken down muscle tissue from a strenuous workout.
Step 4 - Once you are feeling a bit better, try and get some range of motion to the injury to prevent atrophy. What you can and can not do is dependent on the location of the injury and how much pain is present, so listen to your body!
Step 5 - I can not stress this enough, do not go back to full exercise until you are feeling back to normal. If you feel as though you have any remaining pain or loss in range of motion, visit your doctor to assess the situation which may require physical therapy. You do not want an injury to become long-term so take the proper precautions!