We are all guilty of it. Not properly stretching or warming up before your run, your soccer game, your boot camp class. It’s understandable. As moms we are constantly running from point A to point B back to point A and finally to our workout with minutes to spare. We may do a stretch or two and then off we go right into our favorite fitness activity. And until someone creates warm up exercises we can do in the car we will continue this bad habit!
But fit moms beware! It’s easy to over-do it and put undue stress on our muscles. It’s common to try and get in as much exercise as we can in a short amount of time before we are off to the next item on our “To Do” list and as we get older our muscles also take longer to recover from a workout. Without stretching properly or warming up, a muscle injury may be lurking just around the corner.
If a pulled or strained muscle does happen to you it’s extremely important to immediately follow the R.I.C.E. Therapy Regiment (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.) It is vital to reduce any swelling in the first 48 hours so the injury can heal. Swelling restricts blood flow to the injured area delaying the healing process. Muscle injuries can take weeks or even months to heal and R.I.C.E. will help you start healing on the right foot and get you back to the sport you love more quickly.
Of course just like everything else in a mom’s daily life, caring for an injury and following R.I.C.E to a T is near impossible when you have kids. Little ones will inevitably pull a cheese grater out of the drawer and run around wildly with it while you are Elevating and your older kids will need you to drive them to practice/friend’s house/school/wherever while you’re Icing.
No time? No worries. Here’s the Mom’s Guide to R.I.C.E. Therapy- R.I.C.E. To Go:
Avoid exertion or any activity that aggravates the injury.
Rest is that thing that you have been dreaming about since you had kids. If you have kids of any age at home, this one is just not going to happen! But do what you can. GET SOME HELP- from husbands, partners, friends, neighborhood Mommy’s Helpers. Take the break you deserve for once! You need it to recover.
Apply cold ice pack to the injury for 15-20 minutes every 1-2 hours the first day and 3-4 times a day for the second and third days. Apply compression with an ACE elastic bandage to help manage swelling.
Thankfully these two steps can be combined and what mom doesn’t love multi-tasking? If you can’t ice your leg properly while resting, wrap a small instant cold pack to the affected muscle with an elastic bandage to add compression to the injury. If it’s a leg injury, you should be able to do minimal walking, or maximum driving while icing on the go! After you are done icing, slip the pack out and tighten the bandage to continue compression.
Fret not about showing off this look in public. World Soccer Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo wore it best during this year’s World Cup tournament…so it’s trendy. And honestly, when was the last time you sported this season’s hottest (or in this case, coolest) accessory??
Keep the injured area raised to reduce pain and swelling. This is especially important during the first 48 hours.
This one is also difficult to do with kids running around but again, do what you can. Elevating the affected areas as much as possible in the first days after an injury will go a long way to alleviate pain and speed along the healing process. If you feel pain or throbbing get your injury elevated! You may need to let your kids run wild or do things for themselves for once…but that’s okay. (This may also apply to husbands….)
When To Get To The Doctor
Like many injuries, a muscle injury falls on a spectrum of severity- anywhere from a slight common pull to a complete rupture of the muscle fibers and the tendons attached to the muscle. Muscle strains or tears are in the middle of the spectrum. If you have any doubts about how severe of your injury is, it is always best to be diagnosed by a doctor.
If you have any of the following symptoms, visit your doctor or Urgent Care ASAP:
- Popping sound when injury occurs
- Visible swelling or bruising
- Cannot walk or can only walk on toes
- Pain that does not subside with R.I.C.E therapy
After visiting a doctor you may be referred to a physical therapist. Be sure to get in for an evaluation as soon as you can. There is a misconception that physical therapy is only needed after an injury has healed but a physical therapist can actually help with the healing process and get you back on your feet more quickly. The quicker you heal, the less physical therapy you’ll need and if you have small kids you have to bring with you to your appointments you’ll definitely want to get back to 100% ASAP!
Happy Healing! And next time…remember to stretch…