Injury Recovery

April 1, 2010

Whether you are an athlete or just working out to stay in shape, injury will inevitably happen while you are working out.  In an article “Returning to Exercise After Injury” by Howard LeWine, M.D., Brigham and Women's Hospital, there are three basic phases you must go through in order to get back to where you were before the injury.

                The first phase of the three basic phases is Immediate Post-Injury Phase.  This phase is the first 24-48 hours after a minor injury.  During this phase Dr. LeWine writes about thinking R-I-C-E, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  Rest refers to immobilizing the injury meaning trying not to move it as much.  Ice refers to icing the injured area fifteen to twenty minutes at a time with thirty minutes in between each icing period.  Compression means to put an elastic bandage on the area to keep pressure on the injured area to keep swelling to a minimal.  Elevation refers to making sure that the injured area is above the heart.

                The second phase is the Recovery Phase.  In this phase the focus is on increasing the range of motion, strength, and endurance of the injured area.  Increasing range of motion should be gradual and intensify as you become more comfortable with movement.  Warming up the area before working on extensive stretching is recommended.  Remember to ice after working on range of motion and stretching.

                The final stage is the Functional Phase.  This phase is where full exercise capacity is being worked on.  Dr. LeWine said this about the phase “You will be testing the injured area as you work your way up to your previous fitness level. For example, if you have sprained an ankle, start with quick-paced walking and light jogging for 10 to 15 minutes. Again use pain and swelling to guide you on how quickly you can increase the time and intensity of exercise that puts pressure on the ankle.”  Remember to always ice after working out the area.

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