If you’re active and are no stranger to pushing your body to, or past, it’s limits, you know pain. We’ve all heard the “no pain, no gain” workout motto. We can all agree that the achy, stressful, “I’m not sure I can keep going” pain during your workout doesn’t feel half as good as the “I just finished my workout and my muscles know it” pain that follows. The truth is that if you’re really active and not a bit sore most of the time, you may be taking it easy. And as you get older you’re going to ache anyway, so you might as well have those pains working for you.
The challenge is that sometimes we all come across pain that’s different. Not the “pain is gain” kind, but the “Holy @$*%!!! What was that?” kind. It can come in the form of a twinge, a jolt, a stab, crunch or pop. Now the real bad stuff, when you just know something’s wrong should be diagnosed by a doctor, so that you can be sure you’re approach to rehab isn’t in vain and that you don’t cause more serious damage. Symptoms like severe stabbing or shooting pains, lack of movement or severe swelling should always guide you to the ER or your family MD.
For those times when you just over did it and the result is a strained, sprained or sore muscle, ligament or tendon, the answer is RICE. I love carbs, and the #7 Charbroiled Chicken Bowl, with brown rice and black beans at Wahoos! Fish Taco (California Restaurant Chain) may be the perfect meal, but I’m not talking about that kind of rice. I’m talking about R.I.C.E. Here’s the magical, healing acronym that everyone should get to know on a personal level:
(R) Rest – You build strength by tearing down muscle (your workout) and building it down. Usually 1 or 2 days between workouts will allow your muscles to regenerate (heal) and build. When you hurt yourself, you have to give your muscles, tendons, ligaments time to heal. This is not an easy step for those driven “type A” fitness folks, but it’s critical to healing, so stop it and rest!!!
(I) Ice – Using ice packs or cold therapy helps reduce inflammation, which actually reduces additional damage that inflammation can cause. It’s important not to expose skin directly to the ice. Wrap ice, or an ice pack, in a towel to apply it indirectly. Ice the area for 10 to 20 minutes (out of each 60 minutes), four to eight times a day. Don’t apply ice for more than 20 minutes, or you risk cold damage. Don’t apply heat immediately to an injury, either — this can increase swelling, bruising, or internal bleeding. Heat can be used once healing is progressing, days later, to help relax the muscle.
(C) Compression – Wrapping the injured limb in a snug elastic bandage can help reduce swelling. Compression also tends to feel good on the sore damaged muscle, and in some cases can provide stability (e.g. a knee sleeve that provides compression and keeps your joint from twisting or moving too much). Even products like Under Armour compression tops and leggins can speed your muscle recovery time (and feel great)
(E) Elevate – Raise the injured limb above the level of the heart to help reduce swelling.
Small steps add up!!!