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How many of us take the time to warm up properly and include some effective stretches before more intense exercise?

Many of us will have experienced the pain and discomfort of a strained muscle with it probably being safe to say that it’s a far from pleasant feeling.

The pain caused by this kind of injury can vary from a dull ache to a stabbing kind of sensation.

In most cases these injuries aren’t too serious and can be treated effectively using the following principles:

Rest – If you feel a painful twinge in a particular muscle that’s over and above a slight ache while working out, stretching or lifting then you’re best to stop what you’re doing and rest the injured muscle group.

Ice – It’s quite common for an injured muscle to swell, slightly discolour and get hot in the hours/ days after being injured so it’s a good idea to place an ice pack (or frozen bag of peas) on it to help reduce any swelling as soon as possible. Placing the cold ice on an injury for 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a day should continue until movement becomes easier and the pain eases.

Compression – Pressing the ice pack against the injured muscle will help reduce the temperature quickly and help minimise the swelling.

Elevation – This isn’t always possible (might struggle to keep your ankle this high all day, never mind the funny looks you’d get), but if you can then ideally you should try and raise and support the injured area above heart level. This will help restrict blood flow as the heart is having to work against gravity and therefore help reduce any swelling.

The pain and discomfort may last for a few weeks but if it doesn’t subside and there’s no improvement in the range of motion of the muscle group then you should consult a doctor.

When you come to Coastside Fitness in town the fitness instructors will be happy to show you a variety of stretches to try and help prevent any injury in the first place and to encourage you to make stretching an important part of your training.

We’ll also encourage you to warm up before your stretches as if we think of our muscles being full of fibres that are like elastic bands then if they are cold and you try to stretch them too far they are more likely to snap and with warm muscles performing better you will reduce your risk of injury and be able to build on that goal of getting fitter and healthier.