Any fresh injury in bodybuilding must be treated with a well-known protocol – RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. This is what diminishes the inflammation and limits the damage. However, how do you know whether you got a sprain or a strain? The healing process is different for each.
Sprain vs. Strain
A sprain affects the ligament, which is either torn or stretched. Thus, it can no longer support joint movement effectively. Sprains affect joints: ankles, knees, wrists, fingers, and toes. A strain is an injury to the tendon or the muscles involved. Strains can affect the back, Achille’s tendon, the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, elbows, shoulders, hands, and neck. Professional and amateur athletes, as well as any gym goer, are at high risk for such problems, as they tend to be the most common. Such issues can range from mild to severe.
Physical therapy for sprains
Sprained ligaments need physical therapy for a full recovery. The techniques are many, one of the most successful ones being known as the blood flow stimulation therapy. At first, you will need to manage the swelling and pain, then cater to the range of motion. Bracing could also be necessary during healing, especially when you are performing at a high level and need to resume your activity soon enough.
Rehab for strains
The tendons tend to heal quicker than ligaments. Rest and avoid causing more harm to the damaged tissue. After the first 48 hours, you can gently move your affected joint or muscle. After a couple more days, you can begin exercises for stability. Only when you are pain-free you can return to more vigorous training, never push yourself to do it sooner.
Recommended approach for both strains and sprains
Applying ice and pressure is a good method in both cases. The cold reduces the swelling, which means the blood vessels are allowed to carry on their activity. Thus blood flow remains unhindered and the tissue is well nourished, which facilitates healing. Avoid massage, as well as drinking alcohol – both increase the swelling and definitely refrain from exercising. Stretching isn’t beneficial either. Also, avoid heat and stay away from saunas, hot showers etc.
It may not be obvious to you which one you’ve got – a strain or a sprain. Therefore, seek a specialist’s opinion as soon as you can, but always make sure to offer yourself the much-needed help before you do anything (the RICE protocol described above). Once you get a diagnosis, you can start the recovery.
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