As workout facilities temporarily shut their doors, home workouts offer a convenient way to stay in shape—but what happens if you get injured? At-home injury care is an essential step to help you get back on your feet in no time. Keep reading to learn more about common workout injuries and the steps you can take to recover in the comfort of your own home.
Common Home Workout Injuries Whether you’ve decided to go for a run or lift weights at home, there are a few common sports medicine injuries to keep an eye out for:
Shin splints: Shin splints are one of the most common running injuries. They are small tears in the lower leg muscles caused by overloading your leg muscles, shin bone, or tendons. Shin splints typically happen from overuse or increase in training. Common symptoms include throbbing, aching, or tenderness along the inside of the shin. The pain is often intense at the start of the run but goes away once the muscles are loosened up.
Rotator cuff strain: Rotator cuff strains are typically caused by training program errors, improper form, or excessive weight progression. If the rotator cuff is not properly engaged, the upward pull of the deltoid may pinch the top portion of the cuff up against the shoulder blade that meets up with the collar bone. This often results in inflammation and swelling of the tendon, which may cause discomfort.
Hip pain: A hip flexor strain is typically due to too much uphill running, excessive training volume, or tightness in the hip area. Activities such as Zumba and running are where hip flexors are put under the most strain. Many people who have this type of injury may experience muscle spasms, swelling or bruising around the hip area, and stiffness after being stationary.
Sprained ankle: A sprained ankle may occur during activities where you are walking or exercising on an uneven surface, such as hiking. Common symptoms of this type of ankle injury include swelling, pain, and limited range of motion.
Tips for At-Home Injury Care The first few hours after sustaining a sports-related injury are the most critical. You may experience pain, swelling, and bruising, as well as throbbing or a dull ache. Additionally, the injured area may also be tender to the touch or sensitive to movement. R.I.C.E. is a popular acronym that several sports medicine physicians and trainers use to treat a minor injury—of course, this method can also be used at home when recovering from an injury:
Rest: This is one of the most effective ways to jump-start the healing process. Your muscle is weakest and most vulnerable in the first few hours after an injury. Take a break from the activity that caused your injury.
Ice: Apply a bag of frozen veggies, crushed ice, or an ice pack to your injury. Not only will it help relieve pain, but it will also prevent swelling by decreasing blood flow to the area. Never place the ice directly on your bare skin to avoid frostbite. Instead, you’ll want to wrap it in a towel or thin cloth before applying it to the injured area. Apply the ice or cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes, three or more times a day.
Compress: Wrapping the injured area with an elastic bandage will help minimize swelling by allowing fluid to drain from the area. The bandage will provide support and remind you to remain still. If the dressing is too tight, numbness, tingling, or increased pain may occur.
Elevate: Elevate the injury at heart level or above your heart to help minimize swelling. If you are experiencing a hip injury, for example, lay down with a pillow wedged under your lower back to help elevate it.
Continue using the R.I.C.E. method for the first 48 to 72 hours after your injury. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or aspirin, if you are experiencing pain. You should also avoid applying heat to the injured area, as this can increase circulation and worsen swelling.
The pain, swelling, and bruising will likely begin to subside by the third day. You can then begin to alternate heat packs with ice and remove your compression bandage. Your sports medicine physician may suggest lightly stretching the area for the first few weeks until you’re comfortable with normal use and exercise. If you suspect your injury requires professional care, make an appointment with your physician. Signs of severe injury include:
Popping or crunching sound
Instability in a joint
Visible deformities like large lumps
Severe pain or swelling
Cannot support any weight on the injured area
Additionally, you should contact your sports medicine physician if you have an injury that doesn’t improve with home treatment. You should have no visible bruising or swelling around the injured area after the first month. If you notice swelling after a month, make an appointment with your doctor.