Injuries are a part of life. Not a very enjoyable part of it, but nonetheless you have to learn how to properly deal with it to allow for an effective and quick recovery! Unfortunately there is so much misinformation out there including from some so-called professionals who are supposed to know what they're doing! So let's get right down to it and determine what you should and should NOT do!
First of all, what is inflammation and why is it NOT your enemy? When you get injured, your body's immediate response is to send more blood to the area to speed the healing process. This will of course cause inflammation and it is a necessary part of your recovery. However you don't want it to get any worse than it has to, but trying to stop the inflammation through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs will actually prolong the recovery. BUT what is often the first thing you hear? Use ice and take some Advil! The ice has merit as it can help to control the inflammation naturally without artificially suppressing it and it can also help with the pain. But even the ice should be used sparingly. I've also heard people saying that you should be icing pretty much all day! I'd say three or four 15 to 20 minutes icing sessions should be fine. Remember, you NEED inflammation to help recover.
BUT with that being said, you don't want the swelling to go out of control. Just as there are people who will tell you to ice all day and to use Advil to stop the inflammation, there are others who will tell you to use heat immediately to get more blood to the area and speed recovery. Sounds logical, right? We know the body will send more blood to the are so you should help it by increasing it, right? WRONG! A fresh injury is not the time to promote more blood flow! Your body will do that just fine on its own. If you use heat at this time, you will take your inflammation and swelling to a whole new level and what may have started as a mildly swollen foot for example, will end up the size of a football along with excruciating pain! I actually was in a pharmacy once and I heard the pharmacist telling a young man who had just injured his foot to put it into warm water and Epsom salts. That can work well later, but not for a fresh injury during the initial 24 to 72 hours. I intercepted him and told him to NOT take her advice unless he wanted a bad case of "Football Foot" and pain to match!
So what DOES happen after the initial 24 to 72 hours? MAXING OUT! Yes. Depending on the individual and the injury, there will come a point when the inflammation and swelling reaches its maximum and doesn't get any worse or slowly begins reducing. You'll usually know it when you wake up. If you wake up one day and you realize that the swelling and pain isn't any worse than the previous night or maybe even better, you know you've "maxed out". NOW is the time for you to use heat! There are a number of options here, but my absolute favourite is the HOT TUB! I'm a big believer in the power of Hydrotherapy. Two daily hot tub sessions of 15 minutes each will do wonders and in fact, regular hot tub baths are great for injury prevention, relaxing tired muscles, and to just give you a good feeling! Another option is the earlier mentioned Epsom salts or Sea Salts. Although some studies have shown that the temperature of the water is the most important factor and that things added to the water have only minimal benefit. But whatever you decide, both will work.
Yet another option is Contrast Hydrotherapy. This is a method of alternating heat with cold essentially creating a "pump" to promote more blood flow. The heat dilates the blood vessels while the cold will constrict them. It can also be done with heat and cold packs. People use different timings for these, but a good rule of thumb is to simply use equal timings. For example, one minute of hot water followed by one minute of cold water. Repeat this two or three times.
So to summarize:
2) ICE a few times a day for the first 24 to 72 hours. NO Heat! NO Advil or other anti-inflammatory drugs!
3) MAX OUT!
4) HEAT or contrast hyrdotherapy to promote blood flow and recovery
And that's about it! Of course this cannot possible take other factors such as physiotherapy into account, but most minor injuries can be healed simply by following these simple steps. I hope this helps to clear up a few misconceptions about dealing with injuries. For more information about In-Home or Online Personal Training, Click Below!