Monday, June 22, 2015

First Aid: Sprains and Strains

Strains and Sprains are some of the more common injuries we see in the fitness industry. When tendons (tissue that connects muscle to bone) and ligaments (tissue that connects bone to bone) overstretch. A strain is an injury to the tendon and muscle fibers. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments around the bones, maybe you have had an ankle or wrist sprain before. I know I have felt both, neither felt very good. When I 1st started lifting I was doing a light weight deadlift and lost my form on the last lift and pulled a muscle in my back. I felt it as soon as I did it, but I tried not to let it show on my face but it was a radiating pain over my low back and it was all I could do to stay upright.

First Aid for Strains and Sprains:
  • Rest, Stop moving, stop using the injured area. Depending on the severity of the injury you may need to revisit the rest step for several weeks. When I strained my back I was out for few weeks.
  • Ice, I always put a barrier ( a towel or wrap) between the ice pack and my skin to prevent irritation or damage to the skin. Ice can help reduce swelling and pain in the injured area. Ice can be applied for up to 20 minutes at a time every 3-4 hours.
  • Compression, Light compression can help provided support to the injured area and prevent further injuring the body part. Try the 2 finger rule to make sure compression is not to tight; If you can slide to fingers under the compression it is probably a good fit.
  • Elevation, Elevation helps get blood flow to and from the injured area and can help reduce swelling. several pillows will usually do the trick.

You May Need to Seek Medical Attention :
  • if you suspect a break or dislocation
  • if the swelling does not go down - this could be a sign of a break
  • if the pain is severe
I always recommend my clients seek medical attention for sprains or strains because I am not a doctor and cannot diagnose or determine the severity of their injury. Plus, as you your trainer I don't want to do anything that could potentially make the injury worse. So when in doubt, go to the doctor.

Preventing Strains and Sprains:
  • warm up before you lift
  • focus on proper form during every rep of every lift
  • lift within the normal range of motion for your joints
  • if you are feeling fatigued take a short break
  • if you feel any sharp shooting pains, STOP!

What tips do you have for preventing sprains and strains?

Next week is our last week of First Aid tips. Next weeks topic is broken bones and fractures. Spoiler alert - seek medical attention. I'll discuss how I coped with a recent break,

Health and Happiness,


  1. American Heart Association, Heart Saver First Aid, CPR, AED, Student Workbook
  2. Green, D.J(ed) (2010). ACE Personal Trainer Manual: The Ultimate Resource For Fitness Professionals (4th ed.)   SanDiego, CA: American Council on Exercise.
  3. Mayo Clinic, 

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