Muscle injuries

A cousin went to get her hair styled last week and came back to the house grim-faced. I asked her what was wrong. From the looks of it, the procedure had gone well. She said her hair had been pulled so much during plaiting that smiling was now painful.

And eating. And laughing. All facial expressions were now painful. Nevertheless, we went out of our way to be absolute comedians for the rest of the day. Just so she could have fond memories of the day laughing was painful.

It almost makes me feel guilty for having hair that needs extra attention (barber) maybe only once a year. And even then I am hardly there for an hour. Some lasses have to spend the whole day at the salon and then confront pain whenever their mouth moves for the next few days.

The cycle has to be repeated every month or even twice a month. An old saying I used to hear talked about how we all have to hurt a little to look beautiful. This looks like suffering. I wonder if there are alternatives or if people have just normalized the pain of hair styling.

From the perspective of the human body, pain is not a thing to be accepted as a part of life. It usually signals an injury or malfunction of some sort. Usually…because that’s not always the case.

But for today, let us take a simple example. We can think of muscle pain. Everyone is familiar with it. Those of us who engage in physically taxing labor or exercises know muscle pain more intimately. It could be caused by bruising, stretching, or even torn muscle tissue.

The pain usually notifies us of the injury, stops us from using the muscle more, which could aggravate the injury, and is also a good indicator of recovery. When the pain subsides we can start to assume that the muscle is on its way to recovery.

The other way of gauging the recovery is to compare the functionality of a similar muscle, which was possibly not injured. For example, if the hamstrings of the left leg were affected, is movement as good as those of the right leg which are healthy?

A little pain may be experienced during exercise as the muscles contend with loads, but we have to be careful not to overdo it. Professional advice is important so that we don’t injure ourselves in our pursuit of a healthier body.

And the pain of exercise usually fades away as we get accustomed to the routine. The pain of muscle injury is different. If we don’t take a break after an injury, it could get worse and we could lose the function of that limb. No pain no gain does not apply when the pain is from a muscle injury.

Ice packs applied to the injured area for short periods after the injury have been shown to reduce internal bleeding and accelerate healing later on. Elevation of the affected limb above the level of the heart results in diminished hydrostatic pressure, thus reducing the liquid burden that has to be supported by the affected muscles.

These are short-term measures that can be taken to prevent further injury and help the body as it embarks on the healing journey. Of course, the bigger help will arrive when the medical professionals take over, but you will have helped them and yourself by not making a bad situation worse.

Doing nothing is better than doing something harmful due to insufficient knowledge. Doing something useful, no matter how simple, can be ten times better than doing nothing.

So protection of the injured area, resting it, ice packs(just for a few minutes), and elevation above the heart if possible, are simple immediate steps that can be taken for relief, and to improve the chances of a quick recovery after a muscle injury. Let me go and recommend it to the latest victim of spartan hair styling.

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