How To Treat Common Gym Injuries

Getting a gym injury is bad news; it’s painful, causes problems with mobility, and it means that you can’t workout (at least not in the same way) for a little while, causing issues with your overall fitness. However, if you know how to treat the most common gym injuries, you can reduce your pain, improve your mobility, and get back to working out as soon as it’s safe to do so – much sooner than if you did nothing at all to help yourself and treat your injuries. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to treat common gym injuries.

Straight Away

As with most things, the sooner you can treat a gym injury, the better. There are a few actions you should take straight away once you have been hurt, and if you can follow the acronym RICE, you should be able to remember what to do.

  • Rest

If you can rest the injured area, whether it be your knee, ankle, shoulder, wrist, back, or anywhere else, then you stand a much higher chance of recovering more quickly. When you have been injured, the muscles are temporarily weaker, and therefore much more susceptible to further injury. If you can rest, it’s less likely that you will hurt yourself again.

  • Ice

If you can apply ice as soon as you have sustained a gym injury, this will help hugely. You don’t need any specialist ice bags or similar; a bag of crushed ice or peas directly from the freezer will work perfectly well. Remember, though, the ice should never be placed straight onto your skin, as this can cause frostbite. Instead, you should wrap the bag in a cloth first.

The ice will reduce the swelling, making it easier to move, and it will relieve the pain – it does this by reducing the amount of blood flowing to the injured area. Leave the ice on the injured area for around fifteen to twenty minutes, then remove to allow the skin to return to its normal temperature. You can keep applying the ice for as long as you need to, as long as you have this break in between.

  • Compress

The best thing you can do once the swelling has gone down and the gym injury is less painful is to wear a compression bandage or brace. There are plenty to choose from at, and the only thing to think about is which body part needs to be supported; make sure you buy the appropriate brace.

This brace will keep the injury partially immobilized, helping it to heal more quickly. It will also reduce the build-up of fluid, which can be painful.

  • Elevate

In order to reduce swelling, even more, you should elevate your injury. It’s best if you can elevate it above your head, as this will ensure the fluid does not build-up, and any that is already there can more easily drain away. If this is not possible, then at the very least, you should keep your injury raised to the level of your heart.

The Next Day

Even though your gym injury is sure to hurt at the time it occurs, most people find that it isn’t until the next day that the true extent of their pain really starts. This is mainly due to the swelling, which will be at its highest level at this time; your body is trying to heal itself, and swelling is one way your immune system does this. You will also probably have bruising, and again it’s only on the day after your injury that this will really become noticeable and painful.

Keep using the RICE method of treatment; this should be used up to 72 hours after an injury if it is still required. If the pain is bad enough to prevent sleep or major discomfort, you can try taking over-the-counter medication to alleviate the issue. Choose one that will reduce pain and inflammation at the same time; ibuprofen and aspirin are good choices.

It’s important not to apply any heat to the gym injury in the first 72 hours. It will feel great, and therefore it will be tempting, but it can be damaging this early in the healing process. This is because the heat will improve your circulation, and although that is usually a good thing when you are injured, better circulation will increase any swelling.

After Three Days

In most cases, you’ll find that you are more mobile and in less pain after three days or 72 hours. The bruising might still be sore, but the swelling will have gone down, and you will be almost back to normal. It is at this stage that, if you are still finding the injury is causing you any pain or mobility issues, you can start alternating the ice pack you are using with heat.

Although the heat was not recommended earlier than three days, now, once the major healing has taken place, it can be extremely useful. Improving the circulation is now crucial; this will bring additional oxygen to your injury, promoting better healing.

Once the swelling has gone down, you can stop wearing the brace and start stretching the injury to improve mobility. If you find that this hurts, you must stop. Don’t push yourself too hard, or you’ll find that you injure yourself again and have to start the treatment process from the beginning.

When To See Your Doctor

Of course, although it’s wise to try to treat your gym injury yourself on most occasions, there will be times when it’s best to seek medical advice from a doctor. If you think the injury, you suffered is a severe one, then apply ice, use a compression bandage or brace, elevate it, and call your doctor for an appointment. In truly serious cases, go straight to the emergency room; waiting for too long could be detrimental to the healing process.

If you suffer from any of the following complaints after your gym injury, you should definitely see your doctor rather than trying to treat it all yourself:

  • Severe swelling
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Crunching sounds when moving
  • Visible issues such as bent limbs or lumps
  • Joint instability
  • Inability to support your weight