Dealing with sports injuries
The Pick n Pay Argus Momentum Cycle Tour is over but after all the hard work and training many cyclists will be dealing with post-race injuries. The things you do after a heavy race/training session can determine how quick you will heal. N2 Fitness experts, Emile Solomons and Heinrich Smith give us their best tips to deal with sports injuries.
Sore muscles after a strenuous workout is usually enough to deter most people from attempting another workout or activity. Solomons says the muscle pains you experiences 24 to 48 hours after a strenuous workout is known as “delayed onset muscle soreness”.
“The reason we experience this pain is because the muscles being used are torn at a microscopic level which also brings about inflammation. But the benefit of this is that once the muscles heal they are strengthened,” says Solomons.
Here are a few tips on how to assist the body in recovering after a strenuous event or workout:
- Alternate your workouts: Doing leg workouts today, arms tomorrow and abs/core the day after, allows your body sufficient time in between to repair and recover. Working the same muscle groups consecutively will only fatigue the muscles and limit them from the benefits that come from healing and recovering.
- Eat sufficient amounts of protein: Consuming protein prior to your workout could trigger your body to start “protein synthesis”. This is the process where you are building, maintaining and repairing muscles throughout and after your workout. Carbohydrates should also be consumed immediately post work to replenish glycogen levels and refuel the body.
- Add a ‘cool down’ to your workout: A cool down is there to allow your body to gradually slow down and finish off your workout. It could include some slow walking or a light jog followed by a stretch of the muscles.
- Apply heat wraps / pads: Heat has been proven to reduce inflammation and pain. Heated wraps and pads are quite useful, especially if it is localized (confined or specific area).
- Use anti-inflammatory medication. This should only be done when the pain is unbearable or when you have to do another event / activity soon after the initial event. Always use your GP’s prescription. If you are using over the counter medication, be sure to follow to follow the dosage guidelines.
- Don’t overdo it: Listen to your body and work according to your body’s fitness level. Working outside of your comfort zone is always a good thing, but be careful not to go beyond what your body can handle.
- Epsom salts bath (magnesium sulphate): Adding Epsom salts to your bath water allows your body to absorb the compound through the skin which draws toxins from the body, reduces swelling and relaxes muscles.
- Ice those muscles: Jumping into an ice bath after exercise could reduce inflammation and speed up the recovery process. If it is bearable try staying in the bath for 10 minutes proceeded by 10 minutes out of the bath.
- Stretching: You should always do a stretch after your workout as it helps remove lactic acid, it improves your muscular flexibility and its range of motion.
- Massage: It helps break up scar tissue and reduce stiffness associated with muscle repair.
- Foam roller: Much of the pain we experience post-workout comes from the muscles and fascia (connective tissue) being knotted. Using a foam roller over the muscles can remove knots and prevent muscular imbalances from forming.
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