Avoiding injury, or if you get derailed by one…
The new year often brings a time of new behaviors, like more exercise. As an avid athlete and movement lover, over time I’ve exposed myself to many physical disciplines and therefore people in different settings. One thing I’ve seen multiple times is someone getting injured early on due to not being ready for the level of activity – from doing too much too soon and not having the strength or stamina. It may also be from having poor form – either not having it in the first place or losing it when tired. Another familiar way is not taking enough time to rejuvenate and heal. In fact, I just started basketball practice and my hamstrings were NOT ready for that kind of sprinting! I decided to push through and participated in 3 practices last week and this week I am still sore. I have been wondering, how serious is this soreness – is it actually an injury?
It’s easy to think if we can do it, then we’re prepared for it. But that is not always the case, especially with dynamic movement that challenges our tensile strength. Without building a foundation of core strength, dynamic strength and flexibility, injury waits nearby. It’s important to prepare your body for the level of activity you want to engage in. This may take months, depending of the intensity of it. Below are some reminders of how to sustain health, recover faster and avoid injury.
Drink Extra Water. Dehydrated muscles add to muscle soreness.
If it hurts, don’t do it. The wise advice my elder trainer always tells me when I whine aloud. Modify the movement.
Epsom Salt Baths. Use 2 – 3 cups of the salt and soak 15-40 minutes. Our body absorbs the magnesium sulfate in the water, through reverse osmosis. Magnesium sulfate soothes sore muscles and is necessary for many functions of our body.
Use a Foam Roller or Tennis Ball. Rolling on them may not feel that great but it helps and gets easier with frequency.
Stretch When Your Body is Warm. Stretching while cold (before starting exercise or long after stopping) is not effective and it’s a good way to injure yourself. Doing light movement to warm the body is important before stretching and/or do it after the workout.
Get a Massage. The ideal is to get an effective one. Sore muscles are probably not going to be able to handle deep pressure, and Swedish strokes that are too fast may not feel pleasant. Find a good therapist – one who knows what soreness means, and is sensitive to you – your needs, the pressure and speed of the massage.
SLEEP. Get your 7-9 hours.
Take a Rest Day. You can’t just keep getting stronger without resting.
Ice. If you do get injured, of if you have an old/chronic injury that flares up, ice 10 – 20 minutes multiple times a day, especially after doing the activity that aggravates it. The first 3 days/72 hours of an acute injury should be iced to minimize inflammation. Although inflammation is a sign of the body’s healing process, it is a crude function and too much inflammation can damage healthy tissue.
Educate yourself on proper form (of whatever exercise/movement you’re doing). It’s helpful to work with a good trainer that is form focused, or a use a video guide. Either way, using a mirror is also important, to see your form and correct if needed in order to embody the feeling of what correct form feels like.
Get medical attention. If the pain lasts more than a few days, or reignites after activity/exercise, go get evaluated by your chiropractor or doctor.