Regular exercise is a part of daily life and a necessity for most people. While sports injuries can occur in any setting, it’s particularly important to be careful when utilizing fitness equipment. Better Health talks with Thidarat Aramwattanachai, a physiotherapist at Bumrungrad International Hospital, about common workout injuries and how to prevent and treat them.
Common Sports Injuries
According to Thidarat Aramwattanachai, injuries at fitness centers usually involve both cardio workouts, with activities like spinning on stationary bikes or running on treadmills, and strengthening exercises like weight training. They usually occur from overtraining. The four most common injuries:
- Muscle strain from overuse.
- Tendinitis, an injury to tendons that connect muscle to bone.
- Ligament tear, an injury to ligaments that connect bones to other bones.
- Injuries to bones, such as stress fractures from heavy and repeated impact.
What to Do When It Hurts
People who do not exercise regularly will experience moderate soreness and stiffness after working out. It’s important to note that these are not considered injuries but the body’s normal reaction to increased movement and strain. These aches and pains will gradually disappear in a few days without having to do anything.
But, in the case of actual injuries with accompanying pain, swelling, skin inflammation, and warmness at the pain area, you can apply these fundamental principles of self-care known as PRICER:
P = Protect and immobilize the injured area to keep it from moving
R = Rest the injured area
I = Ice the injury area within 24 hours to reduce swelling
C = Compression with ice or a cold pack
E = Elevation: keep the injured limb elevated to assist blood circulation back to the heart, which reduces swelling
R = Referral: for serious injuries see a doctor immediately
“If you’ve injured yourself, stop all activities that exacerbate the damage or recovery will be difficult,” says Thidarat. “Wait until you have fully healed. In the meantime, you can work a different part of your body, but make sure to keep the injured areas immobile. For example, you can work your legs if your arms are injured, or work your arms if your legs are injured.
Prevention Is Better Than Recovery
Preventing injuries is far better than having to recover from them. Our physiotherapist recommends these simple ways to avoid injuries so you can keep going:
- Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. This is a particularly important step for those with existing health problems, as well as women who are 55 or older, and men who are 45 or older.
- Always do a warm-up and a cool- down for at least five to 10 minutes. Stretch muscles during warm-up and cool-down for at least three minutes to increase muscle and joint flexibility.
- Slowly increase resistance, duration, intensity, and frequency to allow for gradual body adjustment.
- Vary exercise each day to avoid overworking any part of the body.
- Know your weakness. If you have an injury, you must consult with a doctor to ensure that you can exercise that area safely.
- Don’t exercise so heavily and for too long that you overstrain or exhaust yourself.
- Have 1-2 rest days per week to give your body a chance to recover.
- Consult a trainer, physiotherapist, or specialized doctor before attempting new exercise techniques.
- Wear clothes that suit the type of exercise you’re doing.
- Drink enough water before, during, and after an exercise to stay fully hydrated. Do not exercise on an empty stomach; eat a light snack at least 30 minutes before an exercise session.
- Have clear and realistic workout goals and use the right techniques to reach them. Applying this common-sense advice will help you to exercise safely and avoid injuries.