Injuries – they’re inevitable. As athletes our bodies are strong, well trained machines. But they are still incredibly fragile and injuries are going to happen. When you are injured – for the love of peanut butter, STOP! You do not get a special badass award for training while you’re injured – what you do get is delayed healing time, improper alignment, and injury and irritation of supporting muscles. I know resting is hard than it sounds. I am currently dealing with a torn rotator cuff and it is taking all the self control I have to not get in the weight room and lift my little heart out!
So how do you treat injuries? Do you ice it, or apply heat? Let’s clear that up! There are basically two types of injuries – acute and chronic. Acute injuries are ones that happen suddenly. Things like a muscle strain, tendon sprain, and other injuries that often result in swelling. These are the types of injuries that you want to apply ice or cold compress to. Ice restricts the blood vessels to reduce swelling and provides some numbing pain relief. General rule of thumb for icing an injury is 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off. Repeat 2 or 3 times to feel some relief.
Chronic injuries and other injuries that do not involve swelling are generally best treated with heat. Things like sore muscles and joint pain are often alleviated with a hot compress because heat helps increase the elasticity of joint connective tissues and increases blood flow. A hot compress should be applied for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and should heat the skin, but not burn it.
So next time you’re faced with pain, evaluate whether the injured area is swollen and needs cold therapy, or tight soreness that should be treated with heat. And most importantly, allow the injury ample time to rest and recovery. Train smart!
Fitmark Ambassador 2013