Knowing the difference between soreness and injury

Levi Good
Fitness Columnist

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Your body is bound to get sore when you begin a workout, but you may actually have an injury and not know it. Being able to tell the difference between soreness and injury is important to your body's health.

It's not always easy to tell if you have an injury or if you're just sore. Soreness is not a bad thing, but injury is. Soreness occurs because the body is not used to the stress put upon by physical activity. This stress causes the gain of muscle, but if one is not careful it can lead to injury.

Acute pain in the joints and tendons may be a good sign that there is an injury, whereas a tenderness in the muscle tissue is more than likely just soreness. If you have an acute pain in your joints and tendons you may want to consult with an expert, but if you have some soreness in the muscles, there are ways to remedy this soreness.

One of the popular ways to relieve soreness of muscles is by massage. Massages not only feel good, but they promote blood flow to the muscle which can remove waste products and increase muscle recovery.

A good massage tip for sore muscles is to start at the part of the muscle farthest away from the heart, and move up the muscle toward the heart. This ensures that as you free, or create, waste products they will head in the same direction as the blood and lymphatic system. This process improves the effectiveness of the massage.

Applying heat to sore muscles can also be beneficial because this also creates an increased blood flow to the muscle tissues. If swelling occurs when applying heat you should immediately stop the application to the sore muscle.

The treatment of injuries is not entirely the same as the treatment of sore muscles. For instance, an injury that has a lot of swelling should never have heat applied to the injured area. This causes increased blood flow that can cause more swelling that can be further damaging to the injured tissues.

Often the best method for treating an injury is the RICE method. The RICE method means Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. These are the four steps that should be followed in the treatment of an injury.

Rest, Without rest, your injury is likely to worsen.

Ice, Apply an ice pack immediately, and leave it on the injury for 20 minutes. Ice deadens the pain and changes the blood flow. Ice decreases flow around the deeper tissues, where there may be bleeding, and transfers it closer to the surface of the skin. Reapplication of ice may follow after a period of rest. Thirty minutes to two hours or more may be sufficient depending on the injury.

Compression, Compression is another means by which fluid accumulation may be controlled. This may also ease the pain.

Elevation , Elevation of the injured part makes use of gravity to drain accumulated fluid away from injury.

Warm up and stretch sessions can prevent or decrease the probability of getting an exercise related injury. By warming up, the body gets itself geared up for the workout by increasing the heart rate and increasing blood flow. Stretching also helps to get the muscles warmed up and ready for action.

Injury and excessive soreness can also be prevented by slowly working yourself into an exercise program and gradually increasing the stress factor you put on your body. Don't overdo yourself on the first day of a workout program.

Injury may put a dent in your attempt to stay fit and healthy, so make sure you are performing the exercises correctly. Also, practice safe lifting, always have a spotter available when you perform an exercise.

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