Injuries happen from time to time, but in most cases they’re simple to cure. Soft tissue injuries can include spraining your ankle and straining your neck or back. So, what’s the correct way to treat these injuries?
Firstly, what are soft tissue injuries?
- muscle strains,
- ligament sprains,
- tendon injuries, such as tendinopathy,
- other soft tissue injuries, such as connective tissue, joint capsule and myofascial tissue damage.
What to do when you first get an injury
When you experience an injury, firstly make sure to seek professional help from a GP or physiotherapist in order to help diagnose and treat it properly.
It’s important to begin treatment straight away by applying the RICE method in the first 24–48 hours following an injury. RICE stands for rest, ice, compress and elevate.
To protect the injured area and prevent further damage, you need to rest. Next, apply ice (note – for some injuries heat is better) and compress the injury with a bandage. This will stop further inflammation and reduce pain. Finally, elevate above heart-level the injury to prevent blood from pooling in the affected area and assist swelling reduction.
Note: If your injury is related to long-term strain, such as waking up with a stiff neck or experiencing back pain due to sitting in the wrong position, the initial treatment is a little different. For these injuries, it’s best to apply heat, not ice, to the area to relax the muscles and encourage an increase in blood flow, which will aid faster healing.
The recovery process
Try to start using the injured area as soon as you feel able. Typically, two or three days following the sprain or strain should be enough time to get back on your feet. This stage is important for recovery, as getting back into action soon after an injury helps to prevent associated stiffness and scar tissue from forming.
Start moving – Begin with gentle movements; try flexing the area and putting some weight on it but don’t overload yourself right away.
Build strength – Ease back into some form of exercise as the pain and injury allows. Be sure to warm up first. You should aim to rebuild strength in the injured area to help prevent weakness and future damage.
Treat the whole area – To avoid injuring the same area again in the future, be sure to focus on building strength in the areas around the injured site too. Treat your recovery as a holistic process, taking time to build up flexibility and strength in the surrounding muscles and joints.