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You're moving along, having a great time getting fit, when all of a sudden you twist your ankle or heft the weight the wrong way. What do you do when you receive an injury from exercise? The first rule is, don't panic! The vast majority of exercise injuries turn out to be simple & fast healing, so the odds are on your side. There are some specific steps to take for different injuries, so it's important to read through the following and be prepared for any accidents or injuries that may decide to come your way. Take steps to make yourself aware of appropriate treatment and you just may prevent a serious injury.
By far one of the most common injuries of all exercises is the twisted ankle. Whether you are walking, running, or rollerblading, sometimes it just takes a moment of slipped concentration or stepping on an unexpected object that throws your balance off, even if just for a second. Unfortunately that second is enough to soundly wrench your ankle and send you stumbling to the ground. While your pride may be wounded, it's probably your ankle that hurts more. If you are in a safe area, remain seated on the ground and assess the situation. DO NOT REMOVE YOUR SHOE! The number one rule for twisted and sprained ankles is to never remove your shoe until you are in a area that you can stay for several hours. If you take your shoe off and the foot swells up, you may be forced to walk over some unpleasant ground before reaching a place to rest. Leaving the shoe on also offers a small measure of support for walking. Gently probe your ankle with your fingers, making sure that nothing is broken. If you are confident that the injury is nothing more than a twist, get to your feet and try to walk a few steps. If you are unable to do so, locate someone to help you. On the other hand, if your foot is able to bear some weight, head back to your home to take some preventative action. Even if you think your ankle is fine, you should take at least a few hours to recover.
Once you are home, follow the R.I.C.E. plan: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Find yourself a comfy place to spend the next few hours, then have a seat and place your foot on several stacked pillows to minimize the amount of blood flowing to the foot. If swelling occurs, it will trap blood in the vessels in the foot and create more pain for you. Whether or not you see swelling, place an ice pack on the ankle for approximately 15 minutes. The ice will help constrict the blood vessels to lessen the pain. You may want to use a compress during the icing to force swelling down. Enable yourself at least 2 days of rest to provide maximum recovery time to your ankle. Rushing back out to exercise is only paving the way to future injury.
Another common exercise injury is tendonitis in the elbows or wrists, brought on by weight lifting. You may be perfectly fine one day and feeling shooting pains the next, because tendonitis can be subtle and remain fairly hidden until the moment you pick up an object the wrong way. If you notice some pain but exercise anyway, you're only aggravating the situation. Your first move to treat tendonitis should be to cut back on your weight training. Go down to a lower weight or, if the pain is severe, stop training altogether. Allow your body several days to make a healing attempt on the injured tendons. If needed, use ibuprofen for pain and try to keep track of when you feel pain and what brought it on. After several days of rest, your pain may subside. When that happens, don't immediately go back to your previous weight. Instead, begin with a much lower weight to test your arm strength. If no pain appears, then gradually increase over the next several weeks. If the pain returns, try another few days of rest. Some people do eventually have to resort to surgery to correct tendonitis but that should be used only as a final option. Many former weightlifters now use other methods of strengthening like Pilates, resistance bands, and others. You can maintain physical strength without the use of weights.
One final common injury that occurs during exercise is a dog bite. This is a serious wound and should not be taken lightly. If you are following your exercise route and encounter an unfriendly dog, take some simple steps to defuse the situation. Avoid looking him in the eyes since dogs consider that a threat. Turn sideways and slowly move away, getting some kind of object between you and the dog if possible. Do not make fast movements that might agitate the dog. If you see that the animal is going to attack, drop to the ground, roll yourself into a ball and cover your head with your arms. In most situations help arrives within minutes. Fast-moving exercisers like runners, joggers, rollerblader's, and bicyclists are far too frequently targets of dogs, so keep an appropriate distance between you and any dogs as you go about your workout.
Knowing a few simple steps to preventing and treating injuries may save you hours of pain and distress later on, but don't let the fear of injury deter you from fitness! The most terrific way to avoid injury is to have a strong, healthy body and that requires exercise!