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Workout Injuries: Prevention and Treatment

(continued)

Preventing Workout Injuries continued...

Fuel your body. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you work out. A good general rule is to drink this amount of water:

  • 8 ounces about 20 to 30 minutes before working out
  • 8 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes during your workout
  • 8 ounces when your workout is done

Eat a small meal or snack every 2 to 3 hours to keep a steady source of fuel for your body. After your workout, eat a healthy carb and protein snack to replenish your energy stores.

See a trainer. Before starting a weightlifting or exercise routine, meet with a trainer. He or she can show you how to work out correctly. The trainer will help you create a safe and realistic exercise program.

Dress right. Wear the proper gear for your workout. If you are a runner, wear a good pair of running shoes that fit properly. If you are a biker, always wear a helmet.

Rest. Take 1 to 2 days off a week to rest. Rest days give your body a chance to recover between workouts. That can help prevent injuries.

Treating Workout Injuries

Injuries can happen, no matter how careful you are. If you develop a workout injury, follow the RICE method to keep your injury from getting worse:

  • R: Rest the injury.
  • I: Ice the injury to lessen swelling, bleeding, and inflammation.
  • C: Apply a compression bandage to minimize swelling.
  • E: Elevate the injury to reduce swelling.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can help ease pain and inflammation from the injury. Check with your doctor before using them, though, if you take any other medicines or have medical problems.

Most workout injuries will heal on their own in 4 weeks or less. If the injury has not improved within a week, or if it gets worse, seek medical care. And always use common sense. If you're concerned about the injury, it's best to seek medical advice.

Until you are fully healed, don’t do the activity that triggered the injury. And avoid any activity that puts strain on the injured area.

You can still be active as long as you don't stress the injury. Staying active may help you heal quicker than if you take to the couch. Try a new workout while your injury heals. For example, if you sprain your ankle, exercise your arms instead. If you hurt your shoulder, work out your legs by walking.

After you have fully recovered from your injury -- pain-free for more than a week -- start back slowly. Don't try to work out with the same fervor you did before your injury. You will need to rebuild your muscle strength and endurance. It may take 3 weeks of regular exercise to regain your pre-injury fitness level. If you push too hard and too fast, you may injure yourself again.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 04, 2014
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