Even though Australian winter is hot, January is when millions of people decide to start hitting the gym in order to get in shape. The holiday season is always reserved for quiet family time and loads of delicious food, a welcome break after a lot of stress. Suddenly deciding to get in shape and throwing yourself into difficult workouts isn’t always the right answer, especially in Aussie heat. If one’s not being careful, this enthusiasm can lead to some serious injuries which might take a long time to heal. If you’ve recently sustained an injury while exercising, here are a few tips that will help you recover faster:
First thing to do
When you get injured during exercise, the following hours are pretty much predictable. You will likely feel immediate pain, which will probably be the first indicator that you’ve sustained an injury. Other than that, you may also experience some bruising and swelling. These symptoms will likely show after a few hours, and you can expect them to remain noticeable even after a couple of days. If you feel a sharp pain at first, it’s very likely that it will subside a bit as time passes, but the area you injured is going to be tender to touch and sensitive to movement, which is why you should stop with your workout. Depending on how serious the injury is, you will not be able to move your body freely for the first several hours. When this happens, try to remember the R.I.C.E. acronym: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate the injured area.
The following day
Unfortunately, it’s usually the day after sustaining an injury that’s by far the most painful. The injured area is likely going to be swollen and tender, and bruising is going to be very prominent. Hitting the beautiful beaches while covered with deep purple and black bruises isn’t the best idea, so it’s best to rest in the comfort of the city anyway – Sydney, Canberra, Perth, and Melbourne have a lot to offer that doesn’t require you to over-exhaust yourself. Instead, focus on the R.I.C.E. treatment method for at least two (ideally three) days after your injury. In case the elastic bandage, elevation, and ice packs aren’t helping with the pain, you should probably take some aspirin, ibuprofen, or some other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory painkiller. This is the time for cooling the injured area, not heating it, as heat can worsen swelling.
Visit your doctor
If your injury seems mild but doesn’t improve after a few days, it might be time to see a specialist. You can start by making an appointment with your doctor, but if you’re really worried, you might as well go to the emergency room. Luckily, the Australian healthcare system is free, and even the busiest emergency rooms will have someone taking care of you in a blink of an eye. These are some of the symptoms that require professional care: visible deformities, severe swelling, can’t support any weight with the injured body part, trouble breathing, etc. Your doctor will assess the situation and give you the right treatment, and depending on the severity of your injury, you might require some physical therapy.
Get some physical therapy
After getting an X-ray or a scan at the hospital, as well as a thorough clinical examination, you will likely be able to go home with a definite diagnosis. Once you have that, it could potentially dampen your spirits, but it’s quite the opposite: the right diagnosis will help professionals come up with a good rehabilitation strategy. Even with all the crowds in the capital, look for the best physio in Canberra, book an appointment, and dedicate all your energy to recover faster. A good physio will help you understand the exact nature of your injury, and that alone will help you mentally prepare for the long recovery process. When the initial inflammation settles, you will work with a specialist to ensure that a full range of movement is restored. These exercise regimes are very particular and should be done under the supervision of a physiotherapist.
If you’ve been injured yet there wasn’t a specific incident that caused the injury, it might have happened by overloading or overuse. These injuries happen when you increase your exercise intensity and load too quickly for your body to adapt and adjust, or when you do a lot of repetitive movements. The most common overloading injuries are Achilles tendinitis, tennis elbow, runner’s knee, and shin splints. To prevent such injuries, you should always gradually progress to more complex and challenging exercises, because this way you are building strength and allowing your body to catch up with the intensity. If you don’t take it slow, you’ll cause tissue breakdown and other similar injuries: blisters after running or even “tennis elbow” after some intense gardening.
Simple tips that always work
Luckily, most sports injuries can easily be avoided if you remember to start the workout session by doing a bit of a warm-up. This warm-up can be anything that suits your routine: some mild cardio or a bit of stretching before you dive into your routine. This is because the soft tissue in your body that has been at least a bit warmed up and stretched before strenuous activity is not as likely to get injured. What is more, you can always exercise every other day rather than every day, alternate exercising different muscle groups, allow yourself a proper cool-down period, and make sure you are using the right equipment when working out.
Getting in shape is important, and it should be at the very top of people’s to-do lists, but it doesn’t mean you should be reckless when exercising. Still, no matter how careful you are, accidents happen, and if you do end up injured, it’s important to take it seriously. Give yourself time to recover fully even if you’re eager to start exercising again, and once you get back to the gym, take it slow at first. When you get professional help early on and focus on recovery, the results will soon follow, and you’ll be back on your feet in no time.