A man experiences knee pain at the gym

Muscle injuries can take the form of a sprain, a tear or a pull and whichever you are affected by it can be a painful occurrence and cause frustration when you want to get back to your usual fitness regime. This type of injury is usually caused by a sudden trauma, and can manifest itself visibly with swelling, inflammation or bruising, or be detected through muscle tightness or weakness.

When muscle injury occurs we naturally want to recover as quickly as possible. This means less use of pain medication, a speedier return to usual routine and a reduced likelihood of future recurrence.  Follow our list of dos and don’ts below to help get back to full strength as soon as possible.

What You Should Do

·         P.R.I.C.E – protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Follow these basic steps immediately after your injury to get recovery underway. Protection means preventing further pain by removing yourself from the situation and discontinuing the activity that caused the injury. Ice should be applied to the affected area as soon as possible to manage the inflammation, and gentle compression can provide support. If possible elevate the injured muscle above your heart to let gravity help reduce the swelling.

·         Seek Advice – from your physiotherapist for a full assessment of muscle function so that together you can formulate a rehabilitation program adapted to your lifestyle and sporting needs.

·         Reduce Training – to a level where you feel no pain from your injury. It is important to keep exercising during recovery as this will speed up the process, but you will need to modify your usual fitness routine to avoid causing any further harm to the injured muscle. Do not attempt to ‘work through the pain’ as this can cause further damage and long-term injury. 

·         Use Remedial Massage – to ensure scar tissue doesn’t clump, and to speed up your rehabilitation. Massage therapy supports and enhances the body’s own repair systems, reduces pain and prevents reoccurrence of the injury.

·         Get Enough Sleep – as this is your body’s chance to secrete immune-supportive hormones, giving you the strength and energy necessary for a quick recovery. Sleep is vital to the regenerative process after injury, giving your muscle cells the time to rebuild and repair.

What to Avoid

·         Applying Heat – until any inflammation is reduced as it encourages swelling and can cause more pain.

·         Resting Too Long – as this can cause other problems to develop. Whilst it is important to rest for the first couple of days after injury, you can start the healing process with very low intensity movement in the affected area to maintain blood flow, and resume training with non-affected muscle groups.

·         Ignoring It – it can be tempting to ignore what seems like a minor pain when you are working towards a fitness goal, but if an injury is ignored this will drastically increase recovery time and can result in long term muscle weakness, joint stiffness and the formation of abnormal scar tissue.

Whilst following our tips above remember that nothing can help your return to strength more than a positive outlook. Working with your physiotherapist and maintaining an optimistic attitude is undoubtedly the fastest way to recovery.

To learn more about our physiotherapy services in Auckland, contact us online or call +64 9 273 6089 to speak with one of our friendly team members.