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February 27, 2015

Healthy Hearts, Exercise, and What to Do in Case of Strains and Sprains

We hope you spent some time during Heart Month learning a little more about heart health and the easy things you can do to keep yours in top shape. On our own blog, we offered up some food for thought in these Heart Month posts:

One common topic in many articles and blog posts about heart health is a call for increased exercise. While we’re all for that healthy lifestyle suggestion, there’s one unintended side effect that can crop up when we hit that track or gym a little too hard. Sometimes our good intention ends up in an ankle sprain, severe muscle strain, or even a broken bone. So let’s wrap up heart month with a quick look at what to do when we experience, or witness, such an injury.

Swollen, Painful, Deformed Limb

Bones, muscles, and joints give the body shape, allow movement, and protect vital internal organs. Long bones form the upper and lower parts of each limb. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons attach to the bones, allowing for movement where the bones come together at joints. These bones are the most exposed to external forces and injury.

There are four different types of injuries affecting bones, muscles, and joints. Strains are stretching or tearing injuries to muscles or tendons. Sprains are tearing injuries to ligaments that hold joints together. Dislocations are the separation of bone ends at a joint. Fractures are breaks in bones.

Distinguishing an injury to muscle or bone is often difficult. It is best to treat them all as possible fractures. Common signs of these injuries include swelling, pain, and discoloration. The limb may appear deformed and the person may be guarding it by holding it against his or her body.

Unstable bones or joints can damage tissue, muscle, blood vessels, and nerves when moved.

The immediate treatment is to minimize movement and prevent additional injury. Splinting an injured limb can reduce pain and prevent further injury. In general, it is best to rely on EMS personnel to splint, as they have more extensive training, experience, and equipment.

For many injuries, local cooling can help decrease bleeding, swelling, and pain. A plastic bag filled with a mixture of ice and water works best. Place a thin cloth between the bag and skin to prevent cold-related problems. Limit application to 20 minutes or less.

Soft tissue injury to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments can be become swollen and painful. These types of injuries can be difficult to distinguish from more serious injuries such as fractures or dislocations. Local cooling can help reduce swelling and pain.

Sprain and Strain Injury in the Workplace

It isn’t just over-exercise that can get our muscles and bones into trouble. The workplace is another setting where such injuries can occur. Summit Training Source offers the program “Muscle Strains & Sprains” to help mitigate these types of occurrences. Your employees learn the importance of hazard recognition, body mechanics, and properly preparing the body for manual tasks.

The program features demonstrations in real work situations that teach how muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments work together; the importance of health and nutrition; the importance of stretching and fitness to avoid strains and sprain; best safety practices to prevent injuries; and the correct stretching techniques.

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