Fall is an amazing time of the year –– school starts back up again and the weather starts to cool down. Autumn here Mankato is arguably the best time of the year from the changing colors of leaves to enjoying the outdoors. With all of the great reasons to be outside, people will likely increase their level of activity. With increased activity, you’ll often see an increase in injuries.
Here are 3 tips from experts to help you avoid or treat a minor injury.
1. Always Stretch
It doesn’t matter if you’re just heading out for a light jog, playing a flag football game, or participating in your weekly basketball league, it is imperative that you stretch before you start. Here are some basic stretches that you can incorporate into your stretching routine:
- You can get a basic stretch for your quads by pulling your foot back so that your heel is back to your buttocks.
- A good hamstring stretch is possible when you put your foot up on a chair or bench and lean forward to touch your toes.
- Stretch your calves by hanging your heel off the edge of a stair and lightly let your weight down to stretch those lower leg muscles.
- A good arm stretch is to pull one arm across your chest, folder your other arm around it to hold it there during the stretch.
- This one can be a little more advanced or just difficult for people with tight arms, but you can clasp your hands behind your back and bend forward at your hips. As you do so, your arms will lift up with you and you should feel a good stretch.
- Take one arm and fold it behind your head so that your fingers are touching the middle of your back/neck. You can use your free arm to push the arm down to get a deeper stretch.
2. Ease Into It
You increase your chance of injury when you start out at 100%. To help your body adjust, it is ideal to increase your activity level gradually. If you’re going out for a run, try easing into it by jogging then walking a bit until you work your way up to full run. If you’re heading out to throw a baseball or football with the kids and haven’t thrown a ball since your high school state championship game, it would be smart to spend 10-15 minutes doing warm up throws. Not only will you be preventing days of soreness, but you can also avoid injury.
3. Early Treatment
If you happen to suffer an injury or even get painfully sore, there are some things you can do immediately to treat the injury and help stave off more serious injury. It’s a sports medicine basic, but the term R.I.C.E. is what we would suggest to anyone who suffers a light injury. So, what does R.I.C.E. stand for?
R = Rest
I = Ice
Rest means no more activity, and stay off the injury. Icing the injury immediately will help keep decrease inflammation. Compression to the area using an ACE bandage or a wrap can also help decrease inflammation by pushing swelling away from the injured joint or muscle. Elevation, specifically for ankles and knees, will help decrease swelling if you can lift the leg above heart level.
If the injury is more serious and could potentially be a fracture, you will want to make an appointment to get an X-ray to make sure. If the injury didn’t seem serious, but the pain or swelling continues for a while, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Thanks for reading!
-Wenger Physical Therapy
How to Avoid or Treat a Minor Injury