Signs of injury and when to seek help
If you have any form of injury, is is most likely that you will need to take time off from training to recover, rest and regroup. If you’re not willing to stop all forms of exercise, there are ways to maintain fitness while recovering.
Injured athletes and avid gym-goers often worry about deconditioning during time away from training. It is unfortunately a fact of life that when exercise comes to a grinding halt, there will be some detraining taking place.
If you simply want to maintain a fitness base, there are ways and means to modify your routine to exclude your injured limbs, joints, etcetera. Before you do any exercise after an injury though, it is wise to get the approval of your treating physician. Follow their recommendations for when you can resume exercise, how much, and what type of training is best.
If one body part or joint is immobilised there are ways to stay fit while rehabilitating – by using cross-training principles. It may take some time to adjust, some creativity and a bit of flexibility to try something new, but training through injury is not terribly difficult or impossible. You will need to have the right attitude and protect the injured area until it heals.
Signs of injury
Most injuries needing attention have common warning signs and symptoms. Acute injuries are often obvious, less significant injuries may creep up slowly and worsen progressively. The latter often turns into nagging chronic pains and aches, and if left untreated can cause serious damage on the long run. Pay attention to warning signs and take action in order to heal quicker,
Joint pain, particularly in the knee, elbow, wrist and ankle should never be ignored. These joints are not covered by muscle, so pain here is rarely of muscular origin. If the pain lasts longer than 48 hours, you’ll need a physician’s diagnosis.
Swelling is usually quite obvious and will be visible, sometimes though you may feel swelling but not see it. Almost all type of sports injuries can cause swelling. It usually goes hand-in-hand with pain, heat and redness. Swelling in a joint will cause stiffness, pain, and may produce a clicking sound as tendons snap over one another, as a result from being pushed into a new position.
Tenderness in a specific point in a bone, joint or muscle, if you press on the area, may point to a significant injury. If the same spot on the other side of your body doesn’t produce the same pain, you should see a physician.
Numbness and tingling shouldn’t ever be ignored. These sensations are often related to nerve compression, indicative of a serious injury that needs treatment.
Reduced R.O.M, or range of motion, is pretty obvious. There will be limited movement in the joint, accompanied by swelling. The limb will only go so far in each direction. Compare one side of the body to the other in order to identify major differences. If any, you probably need some treatment.
Comparative weakness means comparing one side of your body to the other, and is often hard to do, Even so, it can be helpful in assessing an injury. Lift the same weight on the right and left side of your body and look at the result. You can also place your body weight on one leg, then the other. A difference in your ability to support your weight is a tip-off to an injury requiring attention.
Treating sports injuries
Recognising any of the above signs and symptoms should prompt you to prevent further damage. Stop all activity and start treatment immediately. Look for an obvious cause, like missing a step when sprinting, to locate the source of the injury, then you can remedy the situation.
The first treatment indicated for acute injury is reducing swelling by using the R.I.C.E method.
Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Swelling will cause pain and loss of motion, resulting in limited use of affected muscles. By not using the muscle, it will weaken, shorten and resist repair.
Don’t ever apply heat to an acute injury. Heat increases the circulation in the affected area and increase swelling.
If the affected area shows no improvement within 48 hours, you will need to go see a treating therapist.
By Letitia Kleynhans