Now that the weather is starting to cool down, more people are looking to go outside and get some exercise, optimistically trying to shed a few pounds before the holidays get here. Unfortunately, since the majority of the population has been in quarantine for the last several months getting their money’s worth from their chosen streaming service and snacking frequently, physical activity has been mostly an afterthought until now. Restarting exercise out of the blue like this can put someone at an increased risk of injuries.
Two of the more common terms people say when they hurt themselves from restarting activity are, “I pulled a muscle,” and “I twisted my ankle.” These are two different types of injuries. Pulling a muscle, in medical terms, is called a muscle strain. This normally happens from over exerting a muscle or muscle group that is not used to contracting that forcefully or has not been properly stretched. The best ways to prevent muscle strains is to stretch well before exercising and to avoid overexerting yourself when you first start. Just because you could bench press 300 pounds back in high school, or you could run 3 miles straight “back in the day” does not mean that you should start out at that much. If you do manage to strain a muscle, there are a few things that can help. Resting the muscle will give your body time to heal the damage, and unfortunately, this process can take several weeks or more to get back to 100%. In those weeks, you can help your body heal the strained muscle heal faster by gently massaging the muscle, this will increase blood flow to the muscle. Apply ice in a towel for 20 minutes to decrease inflammation, and then apply a heating pad for 20 minutes will bring new blood flow to the area.