Work muscles gently, intently

Marjie Gilliam / Cox Newspapers /


DAYTON, Ohio — Resistance training is increasingly popular, thanks to a greater understanding of the many benefits that it provides, including muscular strength and endurance, a speedier metabolism, greater bone density and a greater sense of well-being.

Using good judgment when you begin any new activity means starting out slowly and carefully, and above all, listening to your body. Getting clearance from your doctor is recommended if you have medical conditions, are overweight or unaccustomed to exercise.

Warming up, stretching and cooling down will help your performance levels and produce better results, and can drastically decrease your risk of injury. When exercise is performed properly, it rarely causes injury or pain.

Using improper form or lifting weights that are too heavy can lead to tearing and/or overstretching muscles and tendons, called strains. In severe strains, actual rupturing or complete tearing of the tendon from the bone occurs.

Most acute injuries are treated with the R.I.C.E method, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Rest the joint for at least 24 to 48 hours. Ice should be applied as soon as possible, within minutes. Protect the skin with a towel and apply ice packs 20 to 30 minutes at a time throughout the first 24 hours. After the first 24 hours, alternating hot and cold packs is generally more effective to promote healing than either heat or ice alone.

Compression elastic bandages help to reduce or prevent swelling. Elevating the injured limb while resting helps to reduce swelling. Try to elevate the area at least level with or even slightly above the heart.