The most common sports injuries are stains and sprains. Sprains are injuries to ligaments, the tough bands connecting bones in a joint. Strains are injuries to muscle fibers or tendons, which anchor muscles to bones. Strains are called “pulled muscles” for a reason: Over-stretching or overusing a muscle causes tears in the muscle fibers or tendons. Pain killers or any external ointments can mask the pain for a little time but do not promote healing in the affected area.
If you are an athlete you understand that the risk for potential injury is good. An injury can sideline a great player. No matter what sport you play or how you managed to hurt yourself, the treatment and the time it takes to heal from an injury are often similar. If you are currently suffering from an injury it is worth looking at how pros deal with their injuries.
For any soft tissue injuries like sprains, strains, and bruises- for example, sprained ankles, sprained knees or muscle strains, cold sports therapy gel packs can be used immediately after sustaining an injury. Follow these simple steps which are commonly used by athletes who get hurt over-exercising, or anyone who sprains or “rolls” an ankle that is one of the most common non-sports injuries.
● The first step is to protect the injury from any further strain. If you have injured or sprained your ankle, stop the activity right away and don’t put any pressure on the injured limb. Try to rest the injury for 24 hours to 48 hours or until the pain is subsided to some level.
● To further minimize the swelling and pain in your ankle, you can simply use a sports wrap or cold therapy gel pack on your ankle or the injured area. We recommend not apply cold directly to the skin, either opt for therapy wraps for sports injuries or if using therapy gel packs, wrap it in a towel or cloth or apply over clothing. Use ice for injuries for 20 minutes three times per day, or alternate between ice and no ice for a few minutes. You can do this until the swelling goes down.
● By this point, you will feel better, but if the swelling remains, you can compress the injury by wrapping it firmly but remember not too tightly. You can use an elastic bandage because it has the ability to expand. Wrapping too snugly may cut off the blood flow and actually increase swelling.
Professional athletes routinely use cold therapy because they know it accelerates muscle recovery after a workout. Cold therapy reduces post-activity pain and swelling by slowing blood flow to micro-injured muscle tissue. It reduces pain associated with chronic injuries like tendonitis, bursitis, etc.
Heat therapy works in the opposite manner- it is a vasodilator, which means it increases circulation by expanding the vessels. This can, in turn, reduce pain and relieves cramping or aching muscles due to fatigue caused by over-exercising. Unlike ice, heat can make inflammation worse. Heat therapy is the best treatment for chronic injuries.
Now you might be thinking what are chronic injuries? And how do they differ from acute injuries?
Chronic injuries differ from acute injuries. They usually develop slowly because a body part is being overused or because an acute injury has not healed properly yet. Pain from a chronic injury may not be constantly bothersome, but it can come and go in the form of a dull ache or soreness of that body part.
Heat increases circulation and raises skin temperature. For these reasons, it should not be applied to acute injuries or any kind of injuries that show signs of inflammation. So, heat is great for sore muscles and joint pain, which are typical of chronic injuries.
Although heat therapy is ideal for chronic sports injuries, when should it be applied?
The heat helps to relax and loosen tired muscles. Athletes with chronic injuries should apply heat before exercise to improve mobility, increase flexibility, increase the elasticity and stimulate the blood flow to the area.
For sports injuries, there are a variety of therapy wraps available at Caldera International to choose from. These provide form-fitting, cold flexible relief, the same pack can be heated to provide hot therapeutic relief for arthritis, muscle spasms, and more. Try our XT-360 Back & Ribs sports wrap to relieve lower back pain with the therapeutic heat relief. Remember, heat can be used prior to exercise but should not be used immediately after physical activity.
If you are looking for more useful tips on how to recover from a sports injury right away, feel free to contact us today with any questions or concerns you might have. You can also read our other blog posts for more free resources.