Sports injuries occur during any type of physical activity that can significantly affect your athletic performance. They often happen during contact sports, or when people don’t warm up before exercising. They also commonly occur with sedentary people who start to exercise without proper guidance/training. In any event, sports injuries have several degrees of severity and in some cases can be extremely incapacitating. Recovering from a sports injury can be challenging, not only because of the physical aspect, but also for the mental and emotional toll it can take on people. Thankfully, advancements in medicine have allowed many to recover from their injuries without any impact on their performance. One example of these advancements has been the rise of personal, in-home infrared saunas.
The Musculoskeletal System
To understand sports injuries, it is important to know about the musculoskeletal system. It includes the bones of the skeleton, along with the cartilages, ligaments, tendons and muscles, which all work together to maintain your body’s position and produce movement. Ligaments are made of connective tissue and are vital for the anatomy of joints since they connect bones and hold them together. On the other hand, tendons are a type of cord that connects your muscles to their insertion in the bones .
Different Types Of Sports Injuries
Not all sports injuries are the same, and they involve different parts of the musculoskeletal system. The most common ones are sprains and strains. People often mix up these two types of injury because they have the same mechanism. They are both the result of overstretching or tearing of specific structures. In the case of sprains, these structures are ligaments, while muscles or tendons are affected in strains. Other common sports injuries include knee injuries, swollen muscles, bone fractures and dislocations. The latter occurs when a bone is forced out of its socket .
What To Do After An Injury
The first thing to do after an injury is to determine its type and severity. In the case of fractures and dislocations, these always require the care of a physician. However, when it comes to injuries that involve the ligaments, tendons and muscles (soft tissue injuries), doctors have developed a method for anyone to treat them immediately, under the acronym “RICE”. The R stands for rest, which means that the injured area shouldn’t be used. The letter I stands for ice since it is recommended to apply ice packs to the area. The C stands for compression, with the affected area needing to be wrapped with an elastic bandage to limit swelling. Lastly, E stands for elevation, where the injured area must be raised above the level of the heart to reduce blood flow and also limit swelling .
Recovering From A Sports Injury
The process of recovering from a sports injury can be long and difficult. It involves a team of several professionals that include doctors, physical therapists, and in some cases, psychologists or counselors. The goal of rehabilitation is to improve flexibility, range of motion, functional strength, power, speed, agility and endurance. In recent years, doctors and physical therapists have found the benefits of infrared therapy and how it can be included in rehabilitation .
How Infrared Saunas Can Help
Infrared saunas help recovery by stimulating the body’s natural healing power. This is achieved thanks to the effect of infrared therapy on our bodies. Infrared waves influence our physiology in two ways:
On one hand, they work at the molecular signaling level in muscle cells, meaning they stimulate certain processes that occur inside these cells that promote muscle repair and adaptation. They also modulate our circulation thanks to the release of a potent vasodilator called nitric oxide (NO), which is known for increasing lymphatic drainage and, as a result, minimizes swelling after an injury .
Even though infrared saunas have shown a lot of promise in recovery from sports injuries, it is important to focus on the prevention of these injuries first. Remember to always warm-up before and cool down after each exercise. Also, if you are a sedentary person and wish to start exercising, it is a great idea to look for a personal trainer’s guidance to avoid any potential injuries. Always check with your doctor first before you try implementing any form of alternative therapies to your injuries.
 “Musculoskeletal System: Normal Structure & Function.” My.clevelandclinic.org, Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/12254-musculoskeletal-system-normal-structure--function.
 David Heitz. (2018). “Everything You Need to Know About Sports Injuries and Rehab.” Healthline.com, Healthline, 9 November 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/sports-injuries#types.
 Danielle Dresden. (2018). “What is the RICE method for injuries?” Medicalnewstoday.com, Medical News Today, 11 April 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321469.
 William Kraemer, Craig Denegar, Shawn Flanagan. (2009). “Recovery From Injury in Sport. Considerations in the Transition from Medical Care to Performance Care.” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnological Information, September 2009, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445177/.
 Joseph Hsin. (2015). “Treating Sports-related Injury and Pain with Light Therapy.” Practicalpainmanagement.com, Practical Pain Management, 25 June 2015, https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/pain/acute/sports-overuse/treating-sports-related-injury-pain-light-therapy.