Is pain good? How to know if you might be injured
Everyone who works out expects to feel some discomfort. No pain, no gain, right? If you’ve ever hurt yourself while exercising and wondered if you should stop or keep going, here are some tips from Jeffrey Guy, MD.
“If you become sore, that’s typically a sign you need to back off a little bit. Did you change something? What did you do differently? Did you do something to prepare yourself? Sudden changes can obviously cause you to be sore, but usually injuries happen more acutely,” said Dr. Guy.
Athletic injuries are usually categorized in two ways:
- Acute injuries – these are injuries that happen suddenly and can’t repeat the activity
- Overuse injuries – these are injuries that evolve over time
Dr. Guy said the risk for a sports injury involves several factors – many you can control and some you can’t. They include:
- Anatomical alignment – flat feet, bowlegs, knock-knees
- Muscle tendon imbalance
- Fitness level
- Growth and maturation
- Gender – Genders have different problems they’re susceptible to
- Training environment
- Conditioning atmosphere
- Surfaces you run on
- Coaching – who are you getting advice from?
How can you prevent injury?
To prevent an injury, Dr. Guy recommends these strategies:
- Preparation – How are you preparing for exercise? This includes visiting your doctor for regular checkups and before you make big changes in activity. Are you getting the right nutrition, wearing appropriate clothes and footwear, stretching?
- Active rest – You must build time for recovery into your program or you’re going to get in trouble. People who recover actually feel better the next time they exercise.
- Activity – Are you putting yourself at risk from the type of sport or number of sports you’re participating in? Try mixing in different activities. If you’re a runner, mix in swimming or biking to give your body a break. And if you’re weight training, use resistance training over heavy lifting.
What should you do when you get injured?
For acute injury treatment, Dr. Guy recommends using the RICE concept: rest, ice, compression and elevate. Use anti-inflammatories if needed. “If you have persistent pain, swelling, it’s not getting better and you tried the RICE method, it’s time to see a doctor. Typically, we can get you better,” he said.
Is it okay to use heat to help rest your muscles?
“For people who have chronic, nagging injuries or muscle soreness, heat is fine. If you fell and hurt your knee, putting heat on it typically makes it swell more because heat brings more blood supply to it, so icing is the reasonable thing to do,” said Dr. Guy.
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