Accidents happen, they just do. If something serious has happened to you, then you should definitely see a doctor. For minor injuries (bumps, sprains, etc), say you rolled your ankle while getting off the treadmill (don't laugh, it's been done), use the RICE program to whip yourself back into shape:
- Rest: Take a break for a day or two to let the injured area rest and recover. Your body needs time to heal the injury. Once you can go about your usual daily routine without pain, you can ease yourself back into a full slate of activities.
- Ice: Apply an icepack (or a bag of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a towel) to the injured area for 15-20 minutes every few hours. Ice helps to cut down on swelling and inflammation by slowing blood flow to the injury, as well as lessening the pain by numbing it a bit.
- Compression: Between ice treatments, wrap an elastic bandage around the affected part to apply pressure and reduce swelling. Compression can also help provide support to a weak joint. It should be fairly tight, but make sure it doesn't press on nerves or cut off blood circulation - if the end of the limb turns blue, that's too tight! It's also too tight if you feel throbbing in the bandaged area. For the same reason, don't wear the bandage at night.
- Elevation: Let gravity do the work - try to keep the injured limb raised above the level of the heart to prevent fluids from pooling in the inflamed tissues. For an injured leg, prop it up above the hips when lying down. Injured arms can be held up in a sling.
Fit's Tip: Try using RICE but keep in mind that you are not a doctor (well, maybe you are but most of us aren't), so if the injury doesn't seem to be getting any better within 48 hours, it's best to see a doctor.