Nagging pain in your leg, back, shoulder or other part of your body following a workout? Here are a few tips to assist in recovering from and reducing risk to those stubborn injuries that keep you from optimal performance during your workout.
Recovery from Workout Injury
- Try R.I.C.E.: no, not the kind in a bag or box. R.I.C.E. is a mnemonic for:
- Rest- assist in allowing time for swelling to subside and inflammation of muscle and joints to abate.
- Ice- will assist in reducing inflammation. Apply a few times of day for the first 48 hours.
- Compression- wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage to reduce swelling.
- Elevation- elevate the injured body part above the heart to reduce pain and swelling.
- Work Around: exercise around the injured area. Exercise promotes serotonin, a “feel good” hormone. Feeling good and having a positive attitude can assist in the healing process. Exercise also strengthens muscle around joints thus reducing risk to injury. Depending on the severity and the location of the injury, you may be able to perform exercises that work around the injured body part.
- Upper body injury: do lower body exercises such as bike riding or running. This will allow your upper body to rest while you build your legs, strengthen muscles around joints and develop your cardiovascular system. Performing lower body exercises will also fight off potential weight gain during the recovery period and release serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, that may assist in the recovery process
- Lower body injury: do upper body exercises like push-ups, chin-ups, etc. This will allow your lower body time to recover while you develop upper body strength, tone upper body muscles and strengthen muscle around joints. Performing upper body exercises will also release serotonin and will reduce the risk of weight gain during the recovery period. Depending on the severity of the lower body injury, you may be able to do alternative lower body exercises. For example, for a lower leg injury you may want to avoid jumping rope and running, which have high impact on muscles and joints of the legs. However, riding a bike may have less impact and can assist in strengthening muscles around joints. Alternatively, swimming has little impact on muscles and joints and is a great way to build your cardiovascular system, burn calories and strengthen muscles around joints.
- Anti-inflammatory foods: many aches and pains have been affiliated with inflammation. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods may assist in recovery. For example:
- Tart cherries (tart cherry juice, tart dried cherries, etc.) have anti-inflammatory elements that may assist in reducing muscle and joint pain.
- Turmeric has anti-inflammatory agents. You can use turmeric to season chicken breast, salmon and other foods.
- Get 7-8 hours of high quality sleep. The body repairs itself during sleep. Particularly during N3/deep sleep.
If swelling and/or pain persist, see your doctor.
Reduce Risk to Workout Injury
- Dynamic Stretching
- Can assist in reducing risk to workout injury by warming up the body before exercise and improving your range of motion. It involves a combination of movement and stretching and includes leg swings, hip rotations, arm circles, jumping jacks, etc. Dynamic stretching should last at least 5-10 minutes.
- Static Stretching
- Following your workout, you should cool down the body with static stretching. You should hold each static stretch for 20-30 seconds. Do not bounce when you stretch or stretch to the point of pain.
- Core Training
- Include core exercises into your workout. Strengthening the core (abs and lower back area) will assist in improving balance and body alignment. Improved balance and body alignment can reduce risk to workout injury. Planks, for example, are a great core exercise. Get into a push up position. Instead of resting on your hands, rest on your forearms with your elbows positioned underneath your shoulders. Your head should be in a neutral position with your eyes facing the floor. While contracting your abs and glutes, hold the position for at least 10 seconds. Do not allow your hips to sag. Keep your body in a straight line. Over time, add time to plank without sacrificing form and technique.