If you're an athlete, you likely have an injury or two. Whether it's a simple, two-day bout of severe DOMS or a full-blown thigh tear, chances are you had to recover at home.
The stress that comes in after a twisted ankle or muscle tension is normal, but don't panic. While it is always recommended to see a physical therapist if the pain lasts longer than expected, sometimes getting an appointment is not easy (for many reasons). The good news is that there are things you can do at home to relax, to speed recovery, and to relax your mind. no matter what injury.
Here are some top tips from a respected physical therapist on how to manage your injuries and recover at home.
The most common sports injuries
The Most Common Injuries Athletes Face Injuries happen, especially among athletes, and the most common injuries are stress. Cord DeMoss PT, DPT, CSCS and co-owner of Vitality Therapy and Performance in Tulsa, OK, states that the most common injury to his athletes is muscle strain. "This is when a person has an acute overstretching of the muscle, usually under tension, that causes some of the muscle fibers in the abdomen of the muscle to tear," says DeMoss, who most commonly occurs in the hamstrings. Quads and upper or lower back.
While there can be some confusion as to the difference between a strain and a sprain, the difference is quite drastic. “A strain is typically a layman's term for being associated with tearing a muscle fiber or tendon; A sprain is in a ligament that connects two bones, ”says DeMoss. The best way to determine whether your injury is a strain or a sprain is to meet with a physical therapist or doctor and proceed with the best healing treatment.
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Hurts? Do this first!
First things first – don't worry: “Athletes are most afraid of upper or lower back injuries,” explains DeMoss. “It is important to take a moment to assess the situation and it can help alleviate anxiety, especially if the strain is back-related. If you're not sure, a physical therapist can help you evaluate it, but if you can't get into PT right away, then here's what you shouldn't: Do deep stretch.
When an injury occurs, stretching is often seen first. However, it can cause further damage. "If we only caused small cracks due to an overstretching moment, we don't want to stretch this area."
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Ice it … or not
DeMoss believes that the RICE principle (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is largely exaggerated, but it plays an important role when used immediately after an injury. "Freezing the injury for the first day or two can help, especially when combined with non-strenuous exercise to encourage blood circulation, but ice doesn't have much healing benefits afterward," he says. "This is where warmth and gentle exercises work best."
In short, ice can help slow the inflammation from the immediate injury, but after that time is up you want to encourage the muscle to work lightly to stimulate growth.
At this point (after the evaluation and freezing is complete), you may be wondering where internet-flooding recovery gadgets come in; Here's a guide to when to use them and when to avoid them.
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Which tools work best when?
Regarding the devices that should be used after an injury, DeMoss says it's really difficult to make a blanket statement there as it really depends on the healing stage. Intensity and place. "ne of the devices should cause pain, especially immediately after an injury," says DeMoss when it comes to recovery devices.
Vibration devices such as Theragun or Hypervolt are good for sore muscles, but shouldn't cause pain. ”Mobilizing soft tissue like using a lacrosse ball for self-massage is great for trigger points, but can also be beneficial when targeting inferior muscles on an injured muscle Is done wisely (does not cause pain or damage and should just feel good). "Says DeMoss.
“These tools are great for mild pain,” he says. "With inferior exposure, they can relieve pain, but you run the risk of irritating the tissue due to the increased sensitivity in the injured area." All in all, ideal for muscles near the injury to reduce tension.
Ideal for pain control, right over an injury, even the same day. But remember, he suggests stopping treatment if it causes pain.
Great for sore muscles (as well as sprains and strains), but can help with pain management and muscle strains and acute ligament sprains. "If the muscle just hurts, you can check the setting and adjust it so that the muscles twitch repeatedly for 10 to 15 minutes," advises DeMoss.
rmally, DeMoss does not produce muscle twitching directly over the load on its athlete during the acute phase of severe pain and swelling. It is best to be used later in the process AND / OR in areas around the injury that could become strained due to muscle protection.
If you are in pain, you don't want a strong muscle twitch at all, and the machine should have a "TENS" setting best used for pain, typically in an "X marks the spot". "Important to note, if you are unfamiliar with using an e-stim device, seek advice from a physician setting it up," recommends DeMoss.
Foam rolling is also good for healing, but it shouldn't hurt and should not be done over an injury until later in the process. "Some people lather so aggressively they bruise, and personally and professionally I don't think you should," says DeMoss. "It should feel like a deep tissue massage, but still pleasant."
This can be changed to stand against a wall or lie on the ball. "This helps reduce the force you are putting on the tissue, but it can still be excessive and cause pain," says DeMoss.
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- Avoid aggressive stretching.
- Just ice for a day or two.
- Try gentle massage – it can help remove inflammation. Massage lightly so it doesn't cause pain (you can see a physical therapist or a licensed massage therapist if necessary).
- Do not push the healing process forward or you can prolong proper healing.
- Discuss your diet with a qualified professional to promote optimal health and healing.