Pain Management For Exercise Related Injuries

It can happen to the best of us. Unexpectedly, during your workout or sporting event… BAM…an injury occurs! Do you ice it or use moist heat? Do you elevate it, wrap it, or tape it? Here are some tips to help you manage your pain and get you back to normal as quickly as possible.

Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation are your first lines of defense right after getting injured. Protection means to stop what you were doing and safeguard the injured area from further damage. Take the weight off of the hurt area. Rest and assess the situation. Using ice is best for inflammation. Compression can help reduce pain and swelling and involves wrapping the area with an ACE bandage. Make sure not to wrap the area too tightly. Elevation means to prop up the injured area above the level of your heart. For example, if you hurt your wrist, you could prop your arm up on the armrest of a couch or chair with 1-2 pillows under your arm. If you are unsure how badly you are hurt, or you don’t have a reduction in swelling or pain after 48 hours, a trip to your physician may be in order.

Ice or moist heat?
Ice should be used if you have inflammation/swelling. Use a cold pack, crushed ice, or a package of frozen veggies. To avoid damage to your skin, make sure you don’t put the ice directly on your skin. Use a lightweight towel as a protective barrier. Ice massages work great too! Freeze some water in a Styrofoam cup. Remove the cup from the freezer and peel away some of the Styrofoam by the drinking area of the cup. Hold on to the lower portion of the cup as you rub the ice on the injured area. Keep a towel under you to absorb the moisture from the ice melting. Continue to peel away the Styrofoam as needed during your 10-20 minute massage. Some people prefer moist heat when swelling is not present. Pulled muscles usually respond well to moist heat. Moist heat is more effective than dry heat. Use a moist heating pad or microwavable rice pack. You can also create your own source of moist heat. Get a washcloth or hand towel wet (as hot as you can stand it). Place that on the sore area and then seal the heat off with a dry towel on top of that. Keep it in place for 10-20 minutes. If there is no swelling with your injury, experiment with ice and moist heat to determine which technique gives you the most pain relief. Another method is to rotate back and forth between moist heat and ice every 5 minutes for a total of 20 minutes. Whatever method you decide works best for you, limit your sessions to no more than 20 minutes at a time to protect your skin and connective tissues from temperature damage.

Cardio & stretching
Getting back to exercise can be very helpful while recovering from a muscular injury (if you are able to do so). Cardiovascular exercise increases blood flow. It transports oxygen, blood, and nutrients through the muscles, joints and ligaments. Even if you are only able to do small amounts of cardio you should experience some pain relief. Stretching relieves muscle tension and soreness. Gentle stretching should be done after your workout. Stretching a cold muscle (not warmed-up) can cause injury. Stretching the sore area several times a day may help speed the recovery process. Take deep breaths and try to relax as much as possible.

Take it to the water.
Because of the buoyancy of water, you may benefit from making your workout aquatic. Water exercise makes activities less weight bearing. It takes away some of the pressure from your joints and makes you feel lighter. Heated pools can soothe tight muscles. Working in the water may allow you to get more out of your workouts while recovering from an injury. Ensure that you have help in and out of the pool if needed. If you are new to water exercise, seek the assistance of an aquatic personal trainer and be careful not to do too much too soon.

It you have never had a professional massage; you don’t know what you’re missing! A trained massage therapist can work wonders with tight, sore muscles. Find a massage therapist at Look for one that specializes in your type of injury.

Physical therapy
Part of your recovery may require physical therapy (prescribed by your physician). A physical therapist will work with you to reduce pain, loosen tight muscles, and restore range of motion and function. They will also show you exercises to strengthen weak areas and speed the healing process. Your doctor will recommend one that specializes in your type of injury.

Injuries are unpredictable and unwanted. When an injury occurs practicing proper care techniques can help speed up your recovery time. Remember not to overdue it when you are hurt. Take the time to rest and recover. Visit your physician if you are not recovering quickly. Take good care of yourself and you’ll get back to your regular workouts faster!

Author's Bio: 

Wendy Stoll is a certified personal trainer with over 21 years of experience specializing in designing exercise and weight management programs for women. She travels to your home to make working-out as convenient as possible. Wendy can be reached at (517) 303-9413,,