Recovering from a leg injury can be time consuming and frustrating. From knee compression sleeve reviews to other treatment methods, it can be challenging to figure out the best option for a specific injury. While medical professionals have a large array of treatment options, these may be a little more ‘outside the box’ techniques, but they can complement, improve and enhance more traditional methods of helping an injury recover.
Our legs play such a huge role in our ability to be active. Without a healthy set of lower limbs, our sports, exercise and even everyday activities are limited. And with so many moving parts in each limb – soft tissues, joints and 30 bones – injuries can easily occur if we’re not careful (or even if we ARE careful – accidents happen!). From dealing with pulled muscles, trigger points (‘knots’) in muscles, torn muscle tissue, sprained ankles, wrenched knees, deep tissue bruising and more, leg injuries can be aggravating and incredibly painful. Besides the obvious treatment options like pain/anti-inflammatory medications, ice, elevating the limb, etc, there are some other lesser known ways to treat an injury. We’ve researched some techniques you may not have heard about that can help you heal quicker from an injury to get you back on your feet and back to your favorite activities.
Kinesiology tape, or KT tape as it’s frequently known, is frequently seen on professional athletes and amateurs alike. The colorful strips adorning arms and legs is not a fashion statement! KT tape is not just a product but a method as well. Applying KT tape correctly is of extreme importance to make sure it has the desired effect. But what exactly does it do?
More and more amateur athletes and ‘regular Joe’s’ have started utilizing this tape that wors by lifting the skin up and away, breaking down fascia and decompressing the injured area. This, in theory, promotes blood flow, helping speed up the healing process. Additionally, the tape provides compression (not unlike a leg compression sleeve would for an aggravated leg injury), reducing inflammation and restoring normal function. KT tape can be used for a myriad of injuries including muscle strains and aches, strained soft tissues like tendons, and it can even speed the healing in bruising. As blood flow increases to the injury, compression reduce inflammation and the injured tissues have a better time healing themselves. Pain can also be reduced dramatically by using kinesiology tape. Stability in joints, through the use of compression, is an added bonus to allow for faster joint healing as well.
By now, you’ve probably seen some of the highly publicized images of athletes like Michael Phelps, sporting large round marks and bruises on limbs and back. While the practice of cupping has been around for centuries, athletes like Phelps brought the awareness of the technique to the mainstream. Cupping works by heating domes and placing them on top of injured tissues to help promote enhanced pain reduction and healing. There is research on both sides of the cupping fence, with many practitioners swearing by it, and other medical professionals debunking it as a fad.
Cupping is thought to work because as the air inside the dome cools, it creates a suction which pulls the skin up into the cup. This is thought to help with blood flow and breaking down fascia causing inflammation. Trigger points are also improved by the added circulation.
This therapy is generally more effective for muscle injuries. While a debated healing technique, it may be worth trying if other modalities have been ineffective for your specific injury.
The only similarity between dry needling and acupuncture is that both use the same type of needle. ‘Dry’ refers to technique utilizing needles without an injection or medication. The super fine needles are inserted into the skin to promote muscle relaxation in trigger points, but the technique is highly specific to how the needs are repeatedly inserted, and whereas acupuncturists will leave needles in place for a specified amount of time, dry needling does not employ that method.
Dry needling is employed by highly trained physical therapists and is one of the modalities used when treating an injury. Often, it’s combined with stretching exercises, massage, heat and other soft tissue manipulation to maximize healing.
It is not a pain-free procedure, but it doesn’t hurt in the way you may think. The needles are nearly undetectable when they are inserted, until they find the center of the trigger point being treated. The needle causes a muscle contraction which can cause just a moment of pain, followed by the muscle relaxing. Think of dry needling as an expedited form of deep tissue massage.
Dry needling is a fantastic route for muscle and other soft tissue injuries for those individuals without a phobia or fear of needles. It may not be a good option for those squeamish about needles, and therapists will have many other techniques to help with healing. But for those who are open to it, dry needling can speed the healing process immensely.
Braces, compression leg sleeves, elbow guards, etc – we’re all familiar and often this is the go-to as the first treatment method after a leg injury. The reason? They work, and really well, at stabilizing the injured area to help prevent further injury. But more importantly, they provide support and compression that actually promotes healing too! Leg injuries, like calf strains, are a frequent complaint of athletes and exercisers. Using a full leg sleeve such as this one from CopperJoint.com can provide strong compression along with the possible benefits of the copper infusion. Compression helps the circulatory system push blood from the extremities back to the heart, and compression typically feels really good too! The supportive nature of the fabric can lend some pain-relieving properties too.
Compression products don’t just promote healing from the compression either. Lymph nodes can experience better drainage (improving inflammation and reducing pain). The stabilizing nature of compression sleeves can also provide mental reminders to be careful, use better form when exercising and it serves to keep the injury more top of mind to prevent further injury or reinjury.
Combining the Therapies
Often, a combination of traditional and lesser known therapies will do the trick – combining several modalities can help increase the odds of a fast, full recovery. Often it takes some trial and error, and it may also require meeting with different medical professionals to find the best formula for you.
Don’t let an injury keep you down any longer than necessary. Explore these different techniques and see if they might be right for you, and get back to your activities FAST!