With continuous, strenuous training, often comes some kind of injury; whether it’s minor or major. If you don’t take the time to recover properly, you can eventually end up either straining a muscle or spraining a ligament. In this article we’ll be discussing the difference between these two injuries.
Difference Between a Strain & a Sprain
A strain is when there is an over-stretch or tear within a muscle or tendon. Your tendons are those fibrous cords of tissue which connects our muscles to our bones. A sprain, on the other hand, is when the ligaments get torn or stretched too much (or too far). Your ligaments are what connect the bones together in your joints. The symptoms of both are pretty similar; however, there can be some bruising following a sprain. If you’ve strained a muscle, you may experience muscle spasms. The most common strain is usually within the lower back and hamstrings, and the most common sprain is usually the ankle.
Symptoms of a sprain:
☐ Pain and/or swelling around the joint
☐ Limited flexibility and ability of full range of motion
Symptoms of a strain:
☐ Limited flexibility
☐ Muscle spasms
☐ Pain around area
☐ Possible swelling, but not common
Our bodies work hard on a daily basis through work, exercise, and daily tasks and activities. An occasional strain or sprain isn’t uncommon. Lifting too heavy improperly, running/jogging, and overexertion (exercising too much, too often) can eventually lead to these injuries.
How To Prevent Sprains & Strains
✓ Proper Conditioning After Exercise
Stretching, foam rolling, proper warm ups and cool-downs prior and post exercise can help your body recover. Warming up helps better your range of motion by warming up and activating your muscles that will be used during exercise. Cool-downs helps get your body back to normal temperature levels and strengthens your muscles for increased support within your joints.
Rest and recovery is just as important as staying regularly active. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body will begin to feel exhausted and sluggish. When you exercise or perform when you’re feeling less than well rested, you risk the chance of working with poor form. Improper form increases the risk of injuries!
✓ Use Proper Equipment
No matter what you’re training for, or what exercises you enjoy doing, using any kind of gym equipment that is worn or torn can also increase your chances of a strain or sprain, believe it or not. Proper, well fitted and supported shoes are crucial for good form and technique whether it’s through running or weight lifting. Any other necessary training gear should also be well-kept and properly maintained to avoid any imbalances or wardrobe malfunctions that could lead to accidents during training.
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✓ Eat Right
Keeping a well-balanced diet helps to keep muscles and bones strong to better prevent injuries. Not to mention eating well also helps a healthy body weight, which also helps prevention of injuries and health conditions.
Treatment For Sprains & Strains
Minor strains and sprains can be taken care of by resting and staying off, or resisting pressure, of the affected area (elevation) in order to give it enough time to heal. Keeping elevated above heart level will help reduce swelling. General icing is also good for decreasing any swelling that may be surrounding the affected area as well. However, it’s never recommended to put ice directly onto your skin. It’s best to wrap the ice, or ice pack, in a towel or thin piece of clothing. Icing for about 20 minutes, on and off, should reduce swelling.
Take Home Message
With continuous, intense training, an injury is more likely to occur unless you play smart. Proper nutrition and enough rest is important to make sure that your body is able to recover better and faster to make sure that you’re ready to hit your goals! Training with an injury will only make it worse, and possibly leaving you out of the gym for longer. If you’re ever concerned about an injury you may have, consult with your doctor for specialist advice and diagnosis.