Care of Common Exercise Injuries and Discomforts

Care of Common Exercise Injuries and Discomforts


Blister Accumulation of fluid in one spot under the skin Don’t pop or drain it unless it interferes too much with your daily activities. If it does pop, clean the area with antiseptic and cover with a bandage. Do not remove the skin covering the blister.

Bruise (contusion) Pain, swelling, and discoloration R-I-C-E: rest, ice, compression, elevation.

Fracture and/or dislocation Pain, swelling, tenderness, loss of function, and deformity Seek medical attention, immobilize the affected area, and apply cold.

Joint sprain Pain, tenderness, swelling, discoloration, and loss of function R-I-C-E; apply heat when swelling has disappeared. Stretch and strengthen affected area.

Muscle cramp Painful, spasmodic muscle contractions Gently stretch for 15-30 seconds at a time and/or massage the cramped area. Drink fluids and increase dietary salt intake if exercising in hot weather.

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Muscle soreness or stiffness Pain and tenderness in the affected muscle Stretch the affected muscle gently; exercise at a low intensity; apply heat. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, help some people.

Muscle strain Pain, tenderness, swelling, and loss of strength in the affected muscle R-I-C-E; apply heat when swelling has disappeared. Stretch and strengthen the affected area.

Plantar fascitis Pain and tenderness in the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot Apply ice, take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and stretch. Wear night splints when sleeping.

Shin splint Pain and tenderness on the front of the lower leg; sometimes also pain in the calf muscle Rest; apply ice to the affected area several times a day and before exercise; wrap with tape for support. Stretch and strengthen muscles in the lower legs. Purchase good-quality footwear and run on soft surfaces.

Side stitch Pain on the side of the abdomen Stretch the arm on the affected side as high as possible; if that doesn’t help, try bending forward while tightening the abdominal muscles.

Tendinitis Pain, swelling, and tenderness of the affected area R-I-C-E; apply heat when swelling has disappeared. Stretch and strengthen the affected area decrease lung function to the same extent as heavy smoking. Another study found that training in a polluted environment counteracted the normally beneficial effects of exercise on the brain. Symptoms of exercising in poor air quality include eye and throat irritations, difficulty breathing, and possibly headache and malaise.

Do not exercise outdoors during a smog alert or if air quality is very poor. If you have any type of cardiorespiratory difficulty, you should take particular care to avoid exertion outdoors in poor air quality. You can avoid some smog and air pollution by exercising in indoor facilities, in parks, near water (riverbanks, lakeshores, and ocean beaches), or in residential areas with less traffic. Air quality is also usually better in the early morning and late evening, before and after the commute hours.

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