Have you ever had an injury from exercising? I have and I’m sure some of you have also. Some injuries can become chronic, making life difficult at times.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), common signs of chronic injuries include pain during activity, pain or an aching sensation at rest, and swelling at the site of injury. It’s always important to seek medical treatment if there is severe pain, swelling or numbness, if you can’t put weight on the injured area, or if you have pain accompanied by increased swelling, instability or joint abnormality.
Bursitis, fractures and torn muscles or ligaments are a few of common injuries. I’ve had to deal with a few torn muscles and ligaments over the years from playing sports or running. It’s funny how you learn all about a specific injury when you’re trying to fix that injury.
Here’s some helpful information from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), explaining what these common injuries are, how they are treated and exercise suggestions for each injury. (Always get exercise recommendations and restrictions from your doctor before exercising with an injury).
Bursitis is an inflammation or irritation of the bursa sacs. Bursa sacs are small, fluid-filled cushions in between bones or joints. Bursitis is caused by overuse, repetitive movements or an injury directly to a joint. Like most injuries, rest, compression and elevation of the affected area are suggested along with anti-inflammatory medicines. It’s also important to do gentle stretching and strengthening of the muscles of the affected area, taking a break from the repetitive movements and stopping all activities that result in pain.
A fracture is a complete or partial break in a bone. Fractures can be stable (broken ends line up and are only slightly out of place), open, compound (skin is pierced by bone), transverse (horizontal), oblique (angle fracture pattern) or commuted (bone shatters in three or more pieces). Fractures can be caused by overuse, trauma or bone disease, like osteoporosis. Bones can be set and casted to restrict movement or they may require surgery to fix. Following the healing process, movement will still be limited and the muscles surrounding the injury will need to be strengthened and stretched.
Muscle tears (and ligament) are very common injuries when exercising. A muscle tear can reduce your strength, bruise and swell the area, and cause a lot of pain. Less severe tears can be treated with anti-inflammatory medicines and the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation). More severe tears may require surgery to fix. When getting back to your exercise routine, reduce your previous exercise volume (days and times) and intensity in half to start. Then progress back to more exercise volume and intensity over time.
Common chronic injuries can be helped with proper medical guidance (doctor and physical therapist), exercise, time and patience. Don’t give up!
Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the May 25, 2017 edition of the Seaford Star.