Body Transformations: Sports and Fitness Injuries

by Dr. Robert Osgoodby

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Let's focus on injuries - how to prevent them, and the proper way to treat them for fast recovery. If you are weight training, playing sports, or doing cardiovascular exercise on a weekly basis, sooner or later you will injure yourself.

Some injuries are slight, others are more serious and require the attention of a physician. If you are interested in quickly building your best body ever, good health is extremely important. An injury can lead to a serious set-back and increase the amount of time it takes you to reach your goals. Therefore, it is important to know how to prevent injury, and what to do to treat and rehabilitate the injured area.

WARNING!! Always seek the advice of a Medical Doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. Always seek the advice of a Medical Doctor if you injure yourself.

Injuries usually occur at the weakest place of a muscle, tendon, ligament, joint, juncture, attachment; and so on. An injury can occur over a period of time from overuse, or can occur from a one-time acute episode such as lifting a weight that is to heavy, improper form or technique during an exercise, falling off the treadmill, or dropping a 25 lb. plate on your foot!

The most common athletic injuries are strains and sprains. Strains and sprains are injuries to a muscle or tendon. In most cases a sprain or strain is mild. It is simply overstretching a muscle or ligament with no appreciable tearing. This will result in pain and discomfort upon movement. With more severe sprain/strain injuries with actual tearing of structures, there will be swelling and discoloration due to internal bleeding. Pain and discomfort will be more severe with this type of injury.

If there is no bleeding or swelling, ice should be applied immediately. You can go to moist heat with this type of injury after 24 hours. In cases where the injury is severe enough to cause rupture of fibers, and bleeding and swelling is involved, do not use heat. Ice packs should be used to reduce swelling and promote vasoconstriction. Elevation, compression and immobilization are also recommended treatments when there is swelling involved. Please be aware that self-treatment for minor injuries is fine, but for more serious injuries, always seek medical treatment.

For years there has been a debate of ice vs. heat for athletic injuries. Personally, I believe in icing a new sprain/strain injury. You will never hurt yourself treating an acute sprain/strain complex with ice. Ice decreases swelling and is an analgesic. (In layman's terms, it will provide you with some pain relief)

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" should be the golden rule for any athlete. The following suggestions will help you greatly decrease your chances of exercise related injury:

  1. Always stretch before and after exercising.

  2. Warm-up the muscle groups you are exercising before starting your normal routine. Take the muscle groups you will be exercising through a controlled range of motion with light weight before starting your routine.

  3. Concentrate on proper form and technique.

  4. Don't overdue it! Exercise at a pace that is comfortable for you. When weight training, it is better to use lighter weights and do more repetitions, than use heavier weights and risk serious injury. You are not in the gym to impress anyone, you are there to achieve your goals. Injury will prevent you from achieving your goals.

Some athletes try to continue training a body part after it is injured. It is absolutely necessary to properly treat and rest an injured area in order for it to heal. This type of mentality will only make the injury worse and prolong your recovery time. Trying to train through an injury can lead to permanent and disabling problems which will remain with you for the rest of your life.

Later in the healing process for sprains and strains, moist heat and ultrasound can be used after the swelling has subsided. Heat and ultrasound are vasodialators and will increase the blood supply to the injured area.

Even though most people view a sprain/strain as a mild injury, there are different grades of sprains and strains ranging from Grade 1 to Grade 4, depending upon their severity. Some sprain/strain injuries can be worse and take longer to rehabilitate than a broken bone. For serious sprain/strains, dislocations, broken bones, lacerations, or any other form of serious injury, always consult with a Medical Doctor.

If you have been self treating an injury which you feel is minor for a two week period of time with no improvement, seek the opinion of a Medical Doctor. Go to a respected doctor who specializes in your particular injury. If you have a shoulder injury, find an Orthopedic Doctor that specializes in shoulder injuries.

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