4 Smart Methods to Recovering from Injuries
I am an athlete that does yoga to stay in shape. I’ve had more injuries than most ‘yogis’ will ever have because I have participated in physical activities in which you can be injured even when you’re doing all the right things. Injury is something that happens to every athlete to varying degrees. I have been unfortunate enough to have many problems, ranging from rotator cuff and shoulder problems to recurring knee injuries and surgery. Yoga, range of motion exercises, and deep tissue massage have seriously helped, but I wish that I had discovered yoga sooner and concentrated more on functional fitness at a younger age. Instead, I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that I am not superman and that I won’t always be able to do everything I want, no matter how much yoga, weights, or physical therapy I do, or how many supplements I take.
We always want to get back to doing whatever physical activity it is that we like to do as soon as possible, but there are certain things that you should and should NOT do. Here are some methods that I have utilized and personally found to be effective in my life as an athlete and physical fitness enthusiast.
Rest. Rest. Rest.
This is the hardest thing for athletes and physical activity enthusiasts. When a doctor or physical therapist tells us that we should rest and let our bodies recover, we think proactively. Surely there must be a way that we can help our bodies recover, right? Well, the best thing that you can really do is rest, and let your body heal itself. Your body has that amazing ability. Rest – and let your body do what it does best (regenerate) while you do so.
2) Ice, elevation and other anti-inflammatory methods.
Ice is probably the best thing that you can do for sprains and tears. Get used to running out of ice because you filled up 10 sandwich bags full of ice in a single day. Place ice on the afflicted area for 20 minutes at a time, and take 15 minute breaks. (20 minutes on, 15 minutes off.) Ice helps prevent inflammation, which is your body’s way of telling you that you are injured. Fortunately for you, you probably know that you’re injured, so tell that shit to chill out. Elevate the afflicted area by making sure it is above your heart. That means putting your leg on a pillow when you sleep or lay down. I won’t mention any specific anti-inflammatory medicines, but there are topical creams and pills that you can take to help in the recovery process.
3) Tease your injury.
Here is where I might seem like I am contradicting myself. Rest is important, but you don’t want to rest for too long, because you need to remind your body what it should be doing in order for it to recover. This can be as little as flexing your quad muscles, or doing leg lifts with no resistance. You can also do range of motion drills. Otherwise you risk scar tissue build up, which will prevent your body from reaching its full range of motion again. When I say tease, I mean that you want to encounter slight discomfort, similar to when you are doing yoga. Pain and extreme discomfort are to be avoided. The best rule of thumb for this is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Consult with a physical therapist on this issue for more details. Just remember to ice and elevate afterwards.
4) Find alternative methods of physical activity.
You are an active person, and if you don’t find other forms of physical activities to do while you are injured, you will probably go crazy. If you injure your leg, focus on your upper body for a while. Choose a part of your body and tell yourself that you are going to get crazy strong in that area while your legs are inactive. Or, if you injure your collarbone, work on building up core strength or balance by focusing on exercises that do not require your shoulder to move. Be creative, but don’t give up your physical fitness entirely.
Injuries suck, but they also help us appreciate the times when we are healthy. But make sure that you are giving your body the proper amount of time it needs to recover, or you will end up at 75% performance for 6 months, rather than taking a couple weeks (or months, if necessary) off. Consult a physical therapist or doctor for more specific solutions.
PS – Don’t worry about the cover photo. That’s from an older injury. 🙂