Bounce Back Faster from Sprains and Strains: Why Muscle Training Matters
You know that feeling when you do something stupid, like step on a nail or twist your ankle? It’s not just the pain that sucks. You might be out of commission for weeks or months while it heals.
And this is where muscle training comes into play. If you train your muscles properly, they will become strong and durable, so you can avoid injuries before they happen. Even if an injury does occur, the stronger the muscles are around the injured area, the better chance there is for recovery without re-injury or chronic problems down the road. In this article, you’ll learn how training can help prevent Injury.
Table of Contents
What is a muscle strain?
A muscle strain is when a muscle contracts suddenly from being stretched too far. The Injury will cause pain around the site of the Injury and might make it difficult to use that particular body part. In general, if you injure a muscle or ligament in your body, it is advised that you rest and ice the area. However, you’ll need to consult a doctor for additional advice about how to proceed with treatment. You can also visit an urgent care center for less serious cases as they can provide treatment without a long wait. If you receive treatment, the doctor may suggest that you do physical therapy to prevent the Injury from re-occurring.
The symptoms of a muscle strain
The symptoms of a muscle strain can vary depending on the intensity and location of the Injury. Some common symptoms include:
- sudden pain around the site of the Injury
- difficulty using the muscle or joint
- bruising or swelling around the injury site, or
- muscle spasms.
Additionally, if your muscle strain is severe, you might lose strength in that part of your body. Unless you have a muscle or ligament injury where you can see bruising, swelling, or some deformity on the affected area, it is best to wait until the acute (sudden and recent) phase passes before beginning treatment.
What are the most common injuries to muscles and ligaments?
The most common types of muscle strains happen as a result of some form of physical exercise. These include:
- weight lifting,
- when the muscles being used have not been warmed up properly,
- when the muscles are stretched too far, or
- when the muscles contract suddenly.
The most common type of ligament injury is an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear or strain. The ACL is one of the four major ligaments in your knee. Other types of ligament injuries can also happen after sports activities, falls, automobile accidents, and other kinds of trauma.
Another common muscle injury is an exertional compartment syndrome (ECS). This means that the muscles are injured by the pressure they apply on themselves during exercise. ECS can be hard to differentiate from a simple leg cramp, but some of the symptoms of a muscle injury include:
- severe pain during exercise,
- a feeling that the foot is “tight” or numb,
- redness or swelling around the injured area, or
- the inability to use weight-bearing as a form of treatment.
How to treat a muscle strain
If you are faced with a muscle strain, your first step should be to take time off from the activity that caused it. If this is not possible, make sure the area is well-padded during the activity. It’s also important to follow the RICE method—that is, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Make sure to ice or heat the area after completing an exercise to reduce inflammation. You should avoid strenuous activity for at least 48 hours. The best treatment for muscle strains is to use painkillers, such as ibuprofen, which can help ease pain and swelling.
Preventing the likelihood of Injury
There are a few things you can do to help prevent muscle strains and ligament injuries. First, make sure you warm up properly before any physical activity. This will help to loosen up the muscles and reduce the risk of injury. Second, always stretch your muscles before and after exercise. And finally, never try to push through the pain if you’re injured–take time off to let the muscle or ligament heal.
Athletes who participate in eccentric exercises before a match have been found to have lower muscle injuries. Eccentric exercises are exercises that focus on stretching the muscles rather than contracting them. This type of training before competition can reduce stress on muscles when they contract, which can help postpone an injury from occurring during a match.
Exercises that can help prevent Injury
There are a few exercises that can help prevent muscle strains and ligament injuries from occurring. The first is to make sure you warm up properly before any physical activity. This will help to loosen up the muscles and reduce the risk of injury. Second, always stretch your muscles before and after exercise. And finally, never try to push through the pain if you’re injured–take time off to let the muscle or ligament heal. Some of these exercises include the following:
- Stretching: Before participating in a sport or exercise, always stretch your muscles before and after for at least five minutes each. This will help to increase flexibility which can reduce the risk of injury.
- Rice bucket therapy: If you experience an acute muscle strain, place your affected leg into a bucket of rice for ten minutes every hour while awake. The rice will help to keep the affected area compressed, which can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Leg curls: If you have a muscle strain in your quadriceps (front of the thigh), leg curls can be used as a form of exercise therapy to help strengthen the muscles and prevent the Injury from recurring when you become active again.
If you’ve had a muscle injury, it can be tough to get back into the swing of things. To prevent future strains and injuries, you’ll need to stretch before and after exercise as well as warm up properly beforehand. Most importantly, never push through an injury, even though it may seem like no big deal now, because pushing through only causes more damage in the long run.