As a martial artist, a runner, and a weightlifter, injuries are just a part of my life. Whether it's a pain in my weakened wrists (I broke both of my arms when I was younger), an ache thanks to a kick in the back of my leg, or a twisted ankle due to a stupid dip in the road, hardly a day goes by without a few little twinges.
Sometimes, though, the injuries are a bit worse, such as when I hyperextend my arm when doing bicep curls or sprain my ankle while trying to do a flying leap kick. Knowing how bad my injury is helps me know how to treat it, reducing the aches and pain the next day.
Ligaments connect your bones to each other, and pulling them is called a sprain.
Grade I Sprain:
Your ligament is stretched, and there is usually swelling and a bit of pain. Movement is reduced, but there's usually no need to use crutches or immobilize the limb. With a good wrapping and some treatment, the sprain heals quickly.
Grade II Sprain:
The ligament is partially torn, and there is bruising accompanying the pain and swelling. Walking is somewhat painful with an ankle sprain, but you can usually hobble a few steps at a time.
Grade III Sprain:
The ligament is completely torn, and the joint is incredibly painful, swollen, and bruised. Walking is very painful (with ankle sprains), and you may feel like the joint is going to give way if you apply too much pressure to it.
Muscles are harder to damage, but over-stretching of your limbs can often lead to muscle strains.
Grade I Strain:
This is a strain in which less than 5% of your muscle fibers are torn, but they'll usually heal quickly with 14 to 21 days of rest. (This is the most common type of strain.)
Grade II Strain:
With this strain, more of your muscle fibers are damaged, but the muscle hasn't been completely torn or ruptured. The muscles must be immobilized for a period in order to heal, and recovery will usually take 3 to 6 weeks.
Grade III Strain:
This strain involves the total rupturing of the muscle, and surgery may be called for to repair the muscle. It may take up to 3 months for the muscle to heal.
Thankfully, muscle strains aren't too common, and it's usually the ligaments that we damage the most. With the right precautions (using proper form, protecting weaker joints, etc.), you can avoid both muscle and ligament damage. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of sitting in bed recovering - unable to do exercise!