How to Begin Muscle Recovery

Angela Ash

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No matter how much you take care of your body, injuries are prone to happen from time to time. It is, therefore, extremely important to take all necessary precautions and when an injury happens, act immediately.

Needless to say, the injury recovery process may vary depending on a person’s overall health, but there are always some steps to undertake to step up the process.

Preventing Injuries

Working to stop something from happening is easier and better than having to try to resolve it later and nowhere is this saying truer than in the case of injury prevention.

However, people who partake in sports or strenuous workouts are likely to suffer some injuries sooner or later, so it is important to diagnose exactly what is going on (and, once again, early on).

The good news is that many sports injuries can be prevented merely by practicing warm-ups, which usually portends cardio or stretching or a combination of both.

Ideally, you should develop a fitness plan that encompasses varied exercises including cardio, strength training and flexibility training. It is also recommended to exercise different muscle groups every day as that will allow you to gradually strengthen the entire body.

Finally, it is of extreme importance to cool down after working out. Fitness experts recommend that this phase lasts twice as long as warm-ups, so take your time to finish your routine properly. Over time, your body will get used to your workout routine, so the chance of injury will be drastically diminished.

Lastly (even though it does seem rather obvious, but still), make sure to rest up and avoid working out overall when you are tired.

Treating Injuries: RICE Method

The RICE method (acronym of rest, ice, compression and elevation) is the usual method for treating soft tissue injuries. Its main goal is to alleviate initial inflammation and allow the affected tissues to start recovering immediately.

With soft tissue injuries, there will first be swelling, redness, warmth and pain. Cold therapy, such as icing, is the first step to undertake. Follow up immediately with soft bandaging to limit swelling. Finally, elevate the injured area for anywhere from 48 to 72 hours after the injury to limit the swelling further. You can learn more by taking note of the cumulative injury cycle.

Here is a step by step procedure:

Rest portends that you should stop the activity immediately after suffering an injury and rest for the first 2 days (the more the better). Do not by any means put weight on the injured area for the duration of this phase.

Icing portends applying ice packs covered with an absorbent towel. Ideally, repeat the procedure every 2 to 3 hours during the first 2 days following the injury and let the towel sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Compression portends wrapping the injured area with an elastic bandage. This method will limit the swelling, but keep in mind that the wrapping should not be too tight — otherwise you might interrupt the blood flow. If the skin below starts feeling cold or changes color to blue, loosen the bandage.

Elevation portends raising the injured area above the level of your heart to reduce pain and swelling. Do this whenever possible as there’s not too much elevation when it comes to injuries. You can use a pillow or any other tool.

Resting Up Will Help Your Body Recover Faster

Use the injured area as little as possible to step up the healing process. The easiest way to determine whether you’re moving too much is (as per usual) — pain. If the injured area hurts too much, you can be sure you’re moving too much.

Now, depending on the type of injury, the affected area may or may not need to be immobilized with a splint or brace. This is best done by a health professional, so make sure to seek out help immediately.

Why Visiting a Doctor ASAP Is Paramount

If there’s one thing that applies to all conditions, that’s the fact that an early proper diagnosis is the key to a faster recovery. In some cases, there may be the need to undergo imaging test (x-rays or scans, depending on the injury type and location) to confirm the diagnosis.

The usual, lighter injuries people who work out too much are minor sprains and, in some cases, tears. Both of these usually improve considerably after 2 weeks of rest. Anything more complex will require more time to heal.

Your doctor will also recommend a health professional who will set you up on your way to the best rehabilitation routine. Don’t skip this step as the more you rest, the more your muscles will weaken.

Motion Exercises

As soon as the initial inflammation has been eliminated, it is essential to restore a full range of movement. This is done by exercising early movements of the joint. Make sure to only do the exercises a specialist has recommended and, optimally, exercise under their supervision.

Refrain from sports for as long as the joint motion is limited.

How to Regain Muscle Strength

As mentioned above, muscles will waste when you rest too much. Therefore, it is crucial to start strengthening the muscles as soon as the injury has healed. Ideally, start with resistance training, as it improves balance, endurance, and reflex control in the affected area.

If you’re a professional athlete, you’ll need to add conditioning and endurance training to be able to get back on track faster.

Eat a Healthy Diet

This platitude has been uttered so many times that it may seem it needs not to be reiterated, but still it is important to state that a proper diet will help the injured tissues heal faster. In addition, you may add certain supplements, but only if it is necessary. People commonly keep devouring all kinds of supplements without the actual need to do so, so be careful of what your body does and does not need.

To get an idea of what “a healthy diet” means in this instance, here are some tips:

Eat lots of proteins — proteins step up the muscle-building process

Increase the intake of Omega-3 fats (walnuts, soybeans, salmon, etc.) — Omega-3 fats decrease inflammation

Increase the intake of Vitamin C and D — Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties and helps with the production of collagen. Collagen, in turn, rebuilds tissues. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium. Higher calcium intake is crucial for bone injuries.

Last But Not Least

Basically, you should pay attention to prevention. When an injury happens, seek out professional help immediately to get a proper diagnosis. The rest is up to the RICE method, rehabilitation and a healthy diet.

Most importantly, always listen to your body. If you’re feeling discomfort with any of these steps, adjust them. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

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Angela Ash is a professional writer and editor, who focuses on topics related to business, remote work, digital PR, marketing, clean tech, mental health, travel and more. She also enjoys playing the piano, writing poetry, and music festivals.

Louisville, KY
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