Some things in life are impossible to predict – accidents and injuries definitely belong to this category. They don’t even have to be severe to put a damper on your lifestyle. If you train regularly, even the smallest pangs of pain can take all the joy away from your fitness routine.
Even professionals sustain training injuries from time to time, and it doesn’t mean they must retire. If you enjoy exercising but don’t know how to do it after an injury, don’t worry. In this article, we’ll walk you through the do’s and don’ts of safe stretching after an unfortunate event. Keep on reading to learn more about the best and worst practices of exercising after an injury.
Consider Taking Supplements to Support Your Body
After you’ve sustained an injury, you probably want to get back in shape as soon as possible. However, before you hit the gym (or your workout mat at home), you need to make sure your body can endure your attempts. As such, you may consider taking vitamins and collagen supplements, which are well-known for their positive properties.
You may be wondering which form is better, marine vs bovine collagen? The best product should facilitate regeneration and support the health of your joints, skin, and bones. Experts agree that high-quality hydrolyzed bovine collagen supplements can give you the desired effects. However, marine collagen certainly has its uses.
Determine the Type of Your Injury
Some injuries can be stretched, while others are better left alone. If you’re not a medical professional and don’t know much about anatomy, getting the right diagnosis might be difficult. However, it’s important to know what type of injury you’re dealing with because some exercises can make your condition so much worse.
If you have a mild muscle strain, you may consider doing gentle stretching. However, if your muscles are pulled or torn, it’s better to avoid that kind of exercise for a while. Otherwise, you risk causing a complete rupture, and for that, you’ll need surgical intervention.
Follow the RICE Protocol
- Resting – rest and protect the injured area. If a certain activity causes you pain, take a break from it for a while.
- Icing – apply ice or a cold pack to the injured area. It helps reduce pain and swelling.
- Compressing – wear compression gear, like an elastic bandage, on the sore area. Just remember not to wrap it too tightly.
- Elevating – whenever you’re sitting or lying down, elevate the injured area. You can use pillows, folded blankets, or other pieces of soft equipment.
Additionally, try to come up with a consistent stretching routine. It will help you make your muscles used to some sort of physical activity. This way, you can avoid overstretching them again.
Don’t Wait Too Long
After an injury, your body can develop scar tissue to repair the damage and broken fibers. It’s a natural response, yet the new tissue won’t be as strong and flexible as your muscle fibers. If you wait too long before you start exercising again, the rigidity of your muscles may be difficult to overcome. That’s why you should start stretching again once your discomfort and inflammation die down.
Don’t Stick to the Same Set of Exercises
As you recover from your injury and begin doing some light exercises, you may want to take things slow and do an easy routine just to keep moving. This approach is fine, but you need to remember to keep it varied. Here are four different types of stretching you may consider doing:
- Static stretching. This form of stretching is the easiest, to begin with. It involves you easing into the stretched position and holding it for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Active static stretching. This one requires more effort and involves different muscles. You’re going to hold the stretch with your agonist muscles – those that apply force to your every movement.
- Dynamic stretching. This form is completely different from static stretching. It involves repetitions and movement, warming up your muscles and making them more flexible. You can go as slow as you like – it’s important to stretch gradually and then return to a neutral position. Dynamic stretching is a great choice for warm-up exercises before your workout.
- Ballistic stretching. Similar to dynamic stretching, it requires fast movements to achieve deeper stretches. If performed correctly, it improves your flexibility and strength. However, this form of stretching is not advisable to be performed without supervision.
A combination of all these types can help you get your muscles in shape and prevent future injuries.
Don’t Overtrain Yourself
Here’s an opposite situation to the one we mentioned before. You may be tempted to go back to your usual workout routine as soon as possible, underestimating the severity of your injury. Even if it wasn’t too bad and you feel like you’ve recovered already, start slow and don’t push your limits.
Some injuries take more time to heal than others, and you can’t be sure if you’re 100% back on your feet again. If you overtrain yourself, you risk sustaining more injuries and making your condition much worse. This, in turn, will postpone your full return to your usual routine and physical recovery even further.
The Bottom Line
If you want to keep practicing your fitness routine, good for you! Regular physical exercise has many benefits. However, after you sustain an injury, it’s always better to seek medical attention instead of opting for home remedies. Getting professional help is even more important if your injury was severe. After you get an “all clear” from your doctor, you can go back to your stretching routine. Later, you may consider introducing other sets of exercises as well.
Your safety and well-being should always come first – keep in mind all the good practices and avoid making common fitness mistakes. Remember about the do’s and don’ts of stretching after an injury, and you’ll be on your way to full recovery in no time.