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Sprains need special carecomment (0)

August 6, 2000

By By Jennifer Davis Rash


Exercise brings with it the risk of injury, so an exerciser must be prepared to treat the various types of sprains and strains that sometimes occur.


Because sprains and strains result from damage to the support tissue around a joint, it is important to properly stretch these areas before exercising, said Chris Bryant, a certified athletic trainer with Baptist Health System in Birmingham. A sprain happens when the tissue is damaged, and a strain occurs with the tissue is overstretched.

“Not stretching makes you susceptible to muscle strain,” Bryant said. “You need to properly stretch the entire body, no matter how little time you think you have.”

Still, sprains and strains will happen and when they do, health experts agree the best treatment to remember is RICE:





Dr. Theodis Buggs, orthopedic surgeon with Princeton Baptist Medical Center, Birmingham, defined RICE as resting the hurt part of the body, icing the area three to five minutes every couple of hours, wrapping a loosely fitting bandage around the area and elevating the sprain or strain.

“The big thing now is to ice,” Bryant said. “Ice off and on during the first 48 hours and then every time you exercise until it is completely healed,” he said.

Dr. Trey Lott, M.D., D.C. in Birmingham, agreed that ice is the best treatment.

“Avoid heating pads that plug into the wall,” he warned. “Heat prolongs the problem. Dry heat increases the swelling,” he said. “If it feels good it makes you worse,” Lott said, noting ice reduces the swelling and heals the area quicker.

 “You must also make a difference between muscle injury and muscle soreness,” Buggs said. “With muscle soreness, you must continue to work through it. But with muscle injury you must rest the muscle and take care of it.”

While it is best to allow the area that is hurt to heal before forcing it to perform again, exercise is still possible during the healing process, experts said.

“We treat a lot of athletes from local colleges and will have them running as soon as possible to allow them to get stronger without creating further injury,” Lott said. “You have to know the difference in what works (with various types of injuries).”

Buggs noted that if a person suffers a shoulder injury he or she can still jog and even do aerobics, as long as the shoulder is resting.

While the most common injuries are knee sprains, shoulder sprains and ankle sprains, Buggs suggested that anyone with a recurring injury look into specific strengthening exercises for that area.

“Look at why you are having the recurring injury,” he said. 

If the pain is persistent or is something other than a sprain or strain, health experts suggest seeing a doctor.

“And if you fall, get an X-ray to make sure there is no fracture,” added Bryant.

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