Exercise Injury: What To Do When you Injure Yourself While Exercising

Many of us would like to stay active as much as possible. This may include exercising at your local gym or joining a sports team. When we really get into our activity of choice, we run the risk of injuring ourselves. Treatment for a sports injury requires immediate attention by a trained professional.

Generally, there are two different types of sports injury. The first is an “acute traumatic injury”. Acute traumatic injuries include fractures, strains, sprains, abrasions, or lacerations. These are the type of injuries that usually involve a single strike from an application of force.

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The second types of injury are called overuse or chronic injuries. Chronic injuries occur over a long period of time that results from repetitive movements or activities such as jogging, throwing, or dancing. This would include stress fractures, tendinitis (the inflammation of the tendon caused by repetitive stretching), or epiphysitis (the overuse or physical stress of a joint). If these types of injuries are not attended to immediately, they could get worse over time.

If you experience an injury during your favorite activity it’s important to prevent further damage as soon as possible. Treatment for soft tissue injuries, such as bruises, tears, strains, or sprains is to stop and reduce swells. When these areas are damaged, they can swell or bleed internally. When this happens, the swelling can cause tenderness and loss of motion.

exercise injury tips

P.R.I.C.E. (protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is a good guide to use when treating a soft tissue injury. Protections means to stop further stress on the part of your body and shield the area from any more damage. Rest instructs you to give the tissue a good amount of time to heal. Ice must be applied occasionally to the area during the first 24-48 hours of the injury occurring. Ice will also help reduce pain and swelling.

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To avoid frostbite, do not apply the ice directly to your skin, or leave the ice on the injured area for more than 20 minutes. Using a thin material (like a washcloth or towel) between the ice and your skin will help prevent frostbite. Compression such as an elastic wrap or medical bandages will keep blood flowing from the injury back to the heart.

Though compression is encouraged, a throbbing feeling or tightness may require a re-wrap of the swollen area.  The elevation is the last component of our acronym, but shouldn’t be overlooked.  Putting a sprained foot up on a pillow can help control swelling, especially if the injury is raised above the level of the heart.

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After letting the injury rest and heal, light massages to the area can reduce the generation of scar tissue and improve soft tissue healing. Once swelling has subsided, it is suggested to begin gentle stretches of the injured limb.

Do your best to stretch the entire range of motion of the injured area, but do not overstretch it, or you will run the risk of injuring yourself again. Keep in mind that forcing a stretch to the point of pain is not the goal when working on the injured area.

It is also most helpful to contact a physician or primary care provider when treating a sports injury. They and show you how to properly rehabilitate the injury properly. It is best to work with someone who has treated sports injuries before who will know how to better help you and your recovery.


Jacob Edward is the manager of Prime Medical Alert and Senior Planning in Phoenix Arizona. Senior Planning is a free service dedicated to helping seniors find the care they need. For those not ready for care, Prime Medical Alert has helped many seniors remain safely independent in the comfort of their homes.

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