Sprains and strains are both painful to have and need time to heal to prevent further injury. These workout injuries can occur at any time and are often unrelated to sports or other forms of physical activity and exercise. They can range in severity from mild to severe and may continue to worsen if proper measures aren’t taken to prevent the joint from being overused or repeatedly stressed.

Workout Injuries: Strains Vs. Sprains

What’s the Difference?

A sprain occurs when ligament becomes stretched or torn. Ligaments are bands of fibrous tissues that connect our joints and allow movement in several directions. Stretching a ligament can take several weeks to heal because of the lack of blood flow to the tissues. Connective tissue has fewer blood vessels and in order for healing to take place, the ligament must be allowed to regain its normal elasticity naturally.

workout injuriesA strain is the result of an injury to muscles or tendons. Tendons are located at the ends of muscles and connect them to the bones. As a form of connective tissue, tendons are similar to ligaments and take longer to heal than regular muscle tissue.Straining is often caused by placing too much force on a joint, injuring the soft tissues and tearing tendons. Sprains, on the other hand, are often caused by the overextension of a joint that results in the ligaments being stretched or pulled beyond their normal limits.

Treatments for Each

Both workout injuries are treated in much the same way. The most common method is stabilizing the area and following the “RICE” course of treatment. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Icing the injured area reduces inflammation and lessens the pain, while compression and elevation help to prevent swelling as the injured area is at rest. Strains and sprains can be extremely painful, especially when they first occur. Over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications are often recommended to help alleviate any discomfort associated with the injury.

Doctors often advise patients who have received workout injuries such as strains or sprains in to allow the injured area to rest for several days before trying to return to normal, day to day activities. Because ligaments and tendons are involved, the healing process can take longer than if it was only soft tissue. The reason for this is because ligaments and tendons are considered to be connective tissue and have much less flow than soft tissues within the body.

Preventing Further Injury

Once an area has been injured, the best way to prevent further damage is to allow for plenty of rest. Extra care must be taken when using the area to avoid stressing the injured area. An area that has already been injured and has not been given ample time to heal is much more susceptible to being re-injured. Avoid using the injured area as much as possible and whenever it is convenient, remember to rest and elevate the area to help prevent swelling.

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