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10 Things to Do If You Get Hurt When Exercising

Exercise injuries can happen even if you’re careful to follow recommendations for preventing them. You should always consult a doctor to assess the extent of an exercise injury. But the good news is that most workout injuries heal on their own with the rest, ice, compress, and elevate (RICE) method.

While you’re healing, there are other things you can do to help ensure you heal properly and get back to exercising without repeating or worsening your injury.

Use these 10 steps to help you recover:

  1. See your doctor, especially if you’re experiencing moderate-to-severe pain. What might feel like a sprain or strain could be a fracture. The sooner you know the extent of your injury, the sooner you can take steps toward healing.
  2. Rest and stop exercising until your injury heals completely. Be aware of resting the injury while at work or going about your routine activities. If you’ve had a moderate-to-severe sprain or strain, ask your doctor when it might be safe to begin exercising again.
  3. Apply ice to the injury for 10 to 15 minutes at a time many times per day to reduce swelling.
  4. Gently compress the injury with a compression bandage to help minimize swelling.
  5. Elevate the injury to help minimize swelling.
  6. Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen to manage pain and reduce inflammation.
    1. Talk with your doctor to find out what dose is right for you and whether it’s ok to mix NSAIDs with other medications you may be taking. Ask your doctor about low-dose NSAID options if you must take NSAIDs for multiple days.
  7. Use a brace to stabilize an injured joint.
  8. Get physical therapy to strengthen uninjured muscles and prevent additional injuries. As you favor your injury, you risk overusing and injuring uninjured muscles
  9. Engage in activities that don’t strain your injury. For example, exercise your upper body with a rowing machine if you sprained your ankle or take a brisk walk if you’ve injured your arm.
  10. Be sure your injury has healed completely before starting back to exercise. You should have no pain for at least a week before starting back to your regular exercise routine. Start slowly and give yourself time to rebuild your muscle strength and overall endurance. Allow up to 3 weeks of regular exercise to regain your pre-injury fitness. Exercising too vigorously may result in a repeat or more severe injury.

Because certain injuries can be become chronic if they’re not treated, it’s important to see a Summit Medical Group practitioner when your injury doesn’t heal in a reasonable amount of time (within a month) or if it worsens. Your doctor can evaluate the extent of your injury and give you specific instructions to improve it. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a team including orthopedists and physical therapists to ensure you heal completely.

If you’re injured while exercising or engaging in sports, Summit Medical Group Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Sports Injury Hours offer immediate care. We welcome walk-in patients with no appointment necessary to see an orthopedic or sports medicine specialist who can diagnose:

  • Bruised bones
  • Fractures
  • Muscle and ligament tears
  • Sprains

Our walk-in injury hours put you directly into the hands of the experts who can assess and evaluate even the most serious orthopedic injuries, including multiple or compound fractures and ruptured Achilles tendons. 

Click here to see our walk-in injury hours and locations
in Berkeley Heights, Bridgewater, and Florham Park.