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MUSCLE INJURIES: WHAT ARE THEY?

There are various reasons for muscle injuries. By knowing them and taking simple but carefully applied precautions will significantly reduce the risk of them occurring.

 

Where do muscle injuries come from?

Obviously, the number one cause of injury comes from far too intensive training in relation to your physical capabilities or repeating incorrect movements. But even the most active athletes are often victims of muscle injuries; proof that other factors also come into play. It's worth repeating over again, but warming up as well as stretching are of primary importance in any sport. Muscles can't withstand intensive activity without preparation - and they need to be relieved after the exercise. By stretching them, you are working on their suppleness, essential to withstand a tough training session. Muscles need to be both strong and supple to prevent the various muscular injuries.

 

You also need to hydrate constantly during training, as well as before and after. Lack of water in the body significantly reduces physical abilities. Finally, tiredness, often caused by overtraining, can also lead to the onset of injury. Know yourself enough to take it easy if you must.


The most common fitness injuries

There are four most common injuries, each one with its own characteristics and requiring a special treatment.

 

Cramp: this is the most common muscle injury, but also the least serious, and is mainly caused by a lack of hydration before and during the training session and to overloading the muscles that can withstand the pressure.

 

Spasm: pain similar to that caused by cramp but that takes more time and is especially felt after exercise. This injury is not serious but it is painful and it can last between five and ten days.

 

Strain: caused by too much stretching of the muscle fibre, it manifests itself by pain during exertion which can disappear only to reappear during the next session when stretching the injured muscle. It affects mostly the thigh and calf and needs to rest for ten to fifteen days.

 

Pulling and tearing the muscle: caused by muscle fibre lesions, they are a source of sharp and sudden pain. In fitness, the main cause is excessive contraction of the muscle. This kind of injury requires medical attention as well as an ultrasound to assess the extent of the muscle damage.

 

How to avoid and relieve injuries?

Even though each muscle injury requires special and appropriate treatment, there are still rules that allow you to limit their onset. As explained earlier, proper warm up, stretching and plenty of water strongly decrease your odds of injuring your muscles. Most important, however, is being aware of your body and your limits. You have to be in tune with your muscles to look out for tell-tale signs that often come before the injury: this can be anything from simple numbness to sharper pain. Don't strain yourself when your muscles feel tired or when a previous injury starts to act up.

 

Here is a list of good habits once pain comes knocking: stop training immediately, apply ice as soon as possible to the affected muscle then massage it over several days. Be careful not to start training too early before the injury is fully healed. A visit to your doctor is of course recommended for more severe cases.

 

Muscle injuries come in many shapes with varying degrees of severity. However, it is possible to mitigate the risks by being careful. Rule no. 1: never neglect your warm-up and make sure to hydrate regularly! Professional dancers have been observed to suffer from fewer muscle injuries because of the importance of stretching and warm-up in their training sessions.

 

Tune in to your body to maintain awareness of your actual abilities. In the long term, gradual and supervised training will always be better than overtraining leading to injuries which will slow down your progress.

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