Whether you workout regularly or you play sports, the risk of injury is something you should be very aware of if you’re not already uncomfortably familiar with it. The more serious injuries might require surgery or specific treatment, but there are a few tips to help you better recover from the lesser (but no less annoying) pains you can inflict on yourself. Let’s look at how you pick yourself back up and get into the game once more.
Know when you’ve gone too far
It’s important, first of all, to know the distinction between a real injury caused by over exercising and muscle soreness that can sometimes feel just as painful and debilitating. Obviously, muscle soreness will fade by itself in a much quicker time if you allow it, but if you have an injury, you want to start treating it quickly so you can’t afford to wait. Some key distinctions include a sharp, localized pain as opposed to stiffness, aching and tightness. If you work out regularly, then the distinction will be clear. If you don’t, then give yourself a day of rest and see if any of the pain subsides. If it starts getting better after a day, that means it’s more likely you’re not injured. If you’re ever seriously concerned, however, get a check-up with your doctor ASAP.
Nutrition is vital to exercise, if you weren’t already aware. Protein is one of the most important ingredients when it comes to ensuring better muscle repair after a hard workout. However, keeping yourself fuelled up is just as important when you’re suffering an injury and spending less time exercising. There are several foods that help you heal faster. Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and broccoli, builds new proteins in the body. Vitamin A in seeds and carrots promote white blood cell production, which ensures injuries are better protected from infection and virus which is important even if it’s not an open wound. Omega—3, primarily found in salmon, helps reduce the inflammation that can get in the way of the body’s repair processes.
Bed rest isn’t always best
If you’re ever told to take rest off a certain part of the body after an injury by your doctor, you should listen. However, conventional wisdom around bed rest, especially when related to back pain, is changing. In many cases, bed rest can actually exacerbate an injury and cause it to linger longer or even to become a chronic condition. If you haven’t been told specifically to rest, aim for some activity that promotes better growth. Nothing too strenuous, and nothing high-impact like running. Just work on your range of motion and avoid staying stationary for too long. You are likely to feel some soreness or sensitivity, but if it turns into that sharp pain, stop what you’re doing immediately and take a break.
Temperature can induce some interesting reactions in our body’s physiology and both heat and cold can be used to treat injuries in specific ways. The best benefit of cold treatment, such as using ice packs or even cryo therapy, is to fight that aforementioned inflammation, helping to reduce swelling and allowing the muscles to heal back to their natural state. Heat therapy, on the other hand, works by increasing circulation and blood flow to the affected area. This soothes the muscles, allowing for more flexibility which can be a key component of healing from an injury.
Check with the experts
If an injury is particularly severe or it has been recommended by your doctors, then physiotherapy can help you drastically decrease the amount of time it takes to heal. This is accomplished in a few ways. First of all, massage therapy and joint manipulation target specific areas, relaxing your muscles, improving circulation, and reducing inflammation. Stretching and strength exercises get your body moving again, returning your body back to a full range of motion, meaning it’s ready for exercise once again. Physiotherapists are also some of the most qualified to help you avoid injury in future, as well. From gait training to teaching independent stretching, they can be an invaluable tool to keep your workouts safe from the risk of injury.
Beyond getting in the way of a healthy lifestyle, injuries are painful. That should be no surprise. The pain alone can get in the way of recovery, however. It makes extended bed rest much more inviting and treatments like physiotherapy much harder to truly get involved in. Beyond treating the injury itself, treat the pain. As mentioned, heat therapy can work. But additional therapy like medical acupuncture can target the specific pain and reduces its impact. When you’re in pain, you’re also stressed. That stress, in turn, causes your body to tense up, thus leading to even more pain. To break the cycle, get involved with stress-busting exercises like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing sessions. Relieving the tension not only eases the pain but improves circulation.
Look after your mind
Pain is also traumatic. After a workout or sports injuries, long-lasting psychological effects are far from uncommon. You might have anxiety about working out again or suffer a depressive episode if an injury debilitates you and leaves you feeling useless. It’s important to thoroughly investigate your own thinking around an injury. First of all, gain some perspective. You might have pushed yourself too far and left yourself injured this time, but you are going to get better and you are going to get back to it. Develop a sense of discipline about whatever rehabilitation techniques you’re using, as well. Don’t let the road ahead seem longer than it actually is. Measure your progress every day by writing a journal noting how much pain you’re in, how much range of movement you have, and what you’ve done to progress.
The tips above can all help you better recover from workout injuries. However, the best cure is prevention, so do try to avoid those injuries by staying aware of your limits, listening to what your body is telling you, and getting all the nutrients you need from a healthy, balanced diet.