The Solution to Your Workout Woes: R.I.C.E.
Have you long forgotten your New Year's resolution? Are you kicking yourself because you just know you should have used your February, March, April, AND May a little more wisely? I know there are some things I could have done differently to be farther along than I am; like laying off the plyos (jumping). But then, I realized something.
YOUR BODY IS GOING TO DO WHAT IT NEEDS TO DO.
When it needs to go into protective mode, it swells, or cramps, as signs to let you know that you're lacking doing something as part of your regimen. I know I have knee issues. I've had two knee surgeries in the same knee. I've torn my Achilles. I still went really hard in my workouts, and at the end of February, I had to take about a week and a half to two weeks off so that the swelling in my knee and ankle would calm down. My body was adamantly letting me know to chill out. During that time, I could have focused more on my upper body, but I decided that icing, resting and stretching were going to benefit me more. For a moment, I felt bad because I thought I was copping out, and I would lose strength if I didn't work on strengthening. But the very opposite occurred.
Letting my body rest was the best thing for my body. When your body is in rest and recovery mode, it gets to repair those muscles and tendons deep down. You won't have to force your body to do anything. It will do it for you; including rest. Stretching and compressing while recovering my knee and ankle from inflammation provided me with more time to focus on muscles that I don't automatically remember to stretch. There's a method that I was taught in college that never fails me when it comes to recovery;
Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
When you follow this method of self-care during your fitness journey anytime you're having some inflammation or you just want to do some preventative work, this will put you on the road to refreshing and/or recovery in no time. And back on track to your goals that you set for yourself back in January. Yes, we are seven and a half months in, but you can ALWAYS start again.
RESTING provides your body time to relax and heal. You've been working it out extremely hard, and now, you get to take a little time off from breaking down the muscle so it can heal properly, instead of getting weaker, and risking not being able to fully workout hard for future sessions. If you're swollen, it's a signal to your brain from your joints and ligaments to "sit down somewhere so I can rest."
ICING gives your muscles time to repair. Icing decreases blood flow to the area you're treating, reducing swelling. When there's a rush of blood, this gives the area an opening for swelling. When you tear down those muscle fibers during your workouts, sometimes, they can even spread apart from each other, causing pain. Icing aids in pulling them back together to heal faster.
COMPRESSION gives your muscles the opportunity to rejuvenate. If a part of your body is swollen, I know it hurts, but this is your body's way of protecting other ligaments and joints from further injury. Wrapping the area with an ace bandage or sliding a compression sleeve on the area keeps the swelling localized and from spreading unnecessarily. It also aids in reducing swelling.
ELEVATION keeps the blood flow to swollen areas at bay. When you're elevating the part of your body that is swollen, the blood flow will go back towards your heart, and continue the normal flow back to your body, instead of all the white blood cells rallying up in one area trying to heal an injury or ailing area so fast (part of the reason for causing swelling).
Keeping this things in mind when you're on the journey to recovery or even preventative measures, ensures that you'll have a very successful fitness journey with little rehab to worry about.