In one of my previous articles, I discussed some of the best practices you should follow to avoid getting injured while working out.
But the reality is that injuries sometimes happen, even if you are doing everything right!
So if/when you do get injured at the gym, you want to have a plan you can put into action that will allow you to heal as quickly as possible.
So to make sure that you’re properly prepared, in this article I’ll be covering 5 simple things that you can do to recover faster from any gym injuries that you do get.
This is based off of the acronym RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Elevation and Compression – with Heat thrown in at the end as well.
Let’s go over each of these steps, one by one.
Step 1: Rest
This one might sound pretty obvious, but it is perhaps the most important thing you can do when you get injured.
Basically, you want to avoid putting any unnecessary stress on the injured body part until it has healed.
This can take varying amounts of time – and can obviously be frustrating if you’re raring to get back to your workouts – but by resting and allowing yourself time to recover, you’ll greatly reduce the chance of this injury flaring up again a few days (or weeks) down the line.
As a general rule, you want to wait at least a couple days AFTER you stop experiencing pain before you work out the muscle again.
And at that point, don’t just jump back into your heaviest weights…
Ease in slowly, so that you can properly assess how it feels, before trying to lift what you were doing before.
Step 2: Ice
As soon as you feel like you’ve injured something, you should try to ice it as soon as possible.
Applying ice helps to reduce swelling, inflammation, and internal bleeding, which can reduce the severity of the injury and help you heal faster.
You want to avoid applying ice directly, since that can irritate the skin, and instead put the ice in a damp washcloth or use an icepack.
Finally, you don’t want to apply ice all day long continuously.
Instead, you want to do ‘sets’ of icing – where you apply ice for 15 minutes, on and off as much as possible over the first 24 hours.
Step 3: Compression
Like ice, compression can help reduce the severity of inflammation and swelling.
The easiest way to do this is using either a compression sleeve or an elastic bandage, depending on which body part you’ve injured.
You want the compression to be fairly tight, but not so tight that it restricts circulation.
If you want to apply ice at the same time, you can tightly wrap an ice pack around the injured area.
Step 4: Elevation
This isn’t always possible, but depending on where your injury is, elevation can help your body heal more efficiently.
This is because when you elevate the injured area above your heart, it can reduce swelling and help remove toxic waste products from the affected area more quickly.
Step 5: Heat
Finally, applying heat to your injury helps to stimulate blood flow, which allows more nutrients to reach the affected area.
However, applying heat too quickly can be detrimental to the healing process, since it can actually increase inflammation.
To avoid this, you should only start applying heat 3 days after the injury, and stick to ice before that.
From day 3 onwards, you can alternate between ice and heat in 15 minute intervals.