If you suspect serious injury, always visit your doctor or physical therapist. However for less severe injuries some simple steps taken at home can have you up and training in just a few days to a few weeks. First, the application of heat and cold properly and effectively after an injury can decrease swelling and discomfort, while minimizing recovery time. Swollen, inflamed and hot tissue responds quickly to cold, reducing swelling and helping the body to naturally control inflammation. Muscles having spasms or pain related to stress or mental strain respond well to heat.
In addition to the proper application of hot and cold to minor injuries, rest is nature’s best medicine. Rest allows the body to naturally heal itself; mending damaged tissue and reducing inflammation. Many athletes fear resting an injury, fearing they will lose progress or get out of shape. However, resting an injury does not have to mean being inactive. Physical therapists have begun using the term “Active Rest” encouraging athletes to continue with a limited amount of exercise only as tolerated, but to avoid exercise that strains the injured area. Swimming, weight lifting, walking and other forms of low-impact exercise help maintain fitness and muscle integrity, while allowing over-worked, strained or injured parts of the body to rest. Use prudence, if low-impact exercise is still aggravating the injury; take a total rest. Up to two weeks of total rest will not result in muscle loss and will allow a quick return to the fitness level you were prior to injury.
While it can be frustrating to take time away from a training schedule or to miss precious time on the trails or on the bike, many serious injuries result from minor injuries that have been ignored or untreated. However, be aware that pain is not always a fail-safe indicator. When returning to training, take a gradual approach. Work up slowly to where you were before you were injured. Hitting the training plan as though you were not injured can not only re-injure you, but can actually lead to increased injury. Listen to your body as you return to training. If you are experiencing recurring injury or pain, take some time to come in to Aspen Club Sports Medicine Institute to meet with their team of physical therapists. Many injuries are related to poor training habits, over-compensation or muscle imbalance. A trained physical therapist can help you to heal by identifying issues in your training and help you to retrain properly.