Fitness injuries happen more often than we think. The good news, however, is that most types of fitness injuries are minor injuries that heal on their own.
The most common causes of minor fitness injuries, such as strained muscles, are:
- Not taking the time to stretch properly
- Not taking the time to warm-up properly
- Poor form
- Repetitive movement (Not enough variety in your workout routine)
- Pushing yourself too hard
So, how do you know if you have a fitness injury? The pain caused by a fitness injury is far more intense than the pain caused by general muscle soreness. Muscles which are sore from exercise tend to be achy all over, whereas fitness injuries cause sharp, intense and localized pain.
The following list is designed to familiarize you with 7 common fitness injuries and best ways to both treat and prevent them.
Shin splits are a painful condition often encountered by runners. This common fitness injury is caused by a slight separation between the shin muscle and the bone.
The fastest way to heal shin splits is to stay off your feet for a few days and take a couple ibuprofen pills, when needed, to help reduce pain and inflammation. Icing your shins can also help fight the pain and inflammation caused by shin splits.
To prevent shin splits, strengthen your shin muscles and replace your atheletic shoes often, so that your shins are properly cushioned. If the following solutions do not work, consult your podiatrist.
Exercises To Prevent Shin Splits
Stress fractures occur in the foot and are not true bone fractures but a series of hairline fractures (cracks) that run along the length of the bone (most of the time). You can distinguish stress fractures from shin splits by the type of pain you experience. Stress fractures, typically, cause pain to radiate down the top of your toes to the center of your foot. Stress fractures make walking painful and may cause the top of your foot to swell. Most importantly, when you press on the top of your foot, you may feel a strong, stabbing pain.
Before attempting to treat your stress fracture, please see a doctor for an X-ray which will determine, whether your injury is truly a stress fracture. Once you’re certain you have a stress fracture, treat the injury by taking a couple of ibuprofen pills to reduce the amount of pain and inflammation you experience. Also, stay off of your feet so that you do not aggravate your injury further.
Knee Pain (Runner’s Knee)
The knee is an extremely complicated joint. Therefore, knee pain can be caused by a variety of factors including a tear in a ligament, a tendon, a muscle or a piece of cartlidge. If you are exeriencing knee pain you must first consult a doctor to determine the cause of your pain.
If your doctor determines that you are experiencing knee pain becasue of runner’s knee, which is caused by the erosion of cartlidge due to repetitive movement, growth spurts, and uneven thigh strength, you can treat this common fitness injury by:
- Cross training (jogging one day, cycling the next, etc) to avoid repetitive movement
- Engaging in low impact exercise such as walking or swimming
- Staying off of your feet for a few days
- Icing your knee and taking anti-inflammatory pain medication such as ibuprofen
- Wearing a knee brace
- In severe cases physical therapy and knee surgery may be required
The elbow is just as complicated as the knee. Therefore, if you think you have tennis elbow please see your doctor to confirm this notion.
Tennis elbow is caused by the inflammation of the tendons in the elbow. Tennis players and body builders are the people who most often experience this type of painful fitness injury. The likelyhood of developing tennis elbow is the reason why personal trainers often tell their clients not to lock their elbows when lifting weights.
You can treat tennis elbow by not lifting weights, icing your elbow and taking a couple ibuprofen pills to help fight the pain and inflammation of this injury. More severe cases of tennis elbow may require you to wear a brace to help support your elbow.
To help prevent tennis elbow, strengthen your wrists and triceps.
3 Unique Triceps Exercises
Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles that surround and protect the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff injuries make it difficult to lift the arm, throw or otherwise move the shoulder. This is because rotator cuff muscles are extremely delicate and susceptible to injury, especially injury caused by repetitive movements and lifting weights that are too heavy.
Rotator cuff injuries are often treated with a combination of icing the joint, compressing the joint and strengthening it by using very light weights or body weight exercises. In severe cases rotator cuff injuries may need surgery or physical therapy to repair.
The Achilles tendon is located on the back of the heel. This point, where the Achilles tendon connects to the heel, is known as the athelete’s Achilles heel, a weak spot for cyclists, runners, tennis players, weight lifters and even those who prefer walking as a form of exercise. Achilles tendinitis is the medical term for a swollen, sore or inflamed Achilles tendon.
Achilles tendinitis is often caused by calf muscles that are too short (due to wearing high heels), too tight, or too weak. Therefore, the most effective ways to prevent this painful fitness injury is to stretch before each workout, limit how often you wear high heels, and work on strengthening your calf muscles.
The most effective way to heal Achilles tendinitis is to stop exercising, entirely. Icing and elevating your feet also helps ease the pain.
A Short Calf Strengthening Workout
Strains And Sprains
We strain our muscles when we over-stretch or tear the tendon, the part of the muscle that attaches it to bone. On the other hand, we sprain our muscles or joints when we tear or over-stretch the ligaments, the connective tissue that join bones together.
Light stretching helps prevent most types of strains. However, if you do strain a muscle, it is best to apply ice to it for at least 48 hours and make an appointment with your massage therapist, since deep tissue massages can help ease the pain of strained muscles.
Sprains happen most often at the ankle, since the ankle is a delicate joint that bears a great deal of weight. Sprained ankles will often bruise and swell. Walking with a sprained ankle is also very painful and not recommended. The best way to treat a sprained ankle is R.I.C.E. (outlined below).
The R.I.C.E. Method of Fitness Injury Management
|R.I.C.E.||For At Least The First 48 Hours|
|R=Rest the injured area||Stop aggravating your injury further|
|I=Ice the injured area||Icing injured muscles can help reduce swelling, inflammation and pain|
|C=Compression||Put pressure on the injured area to keep the swelling down|
|E=Elevation||Elevate your injured body part to reduce swelling|
photo courtesy of: erinsybil