The human body is as wonderful as it is imperfect. While our metabolic and autoimmune system works hard to ensure we’re in great health, our physical attributes are less than ideal when compared to other species. Don’t believe me? How many ACL tears do animals get through everyday movement? The answer differs greatly between them and us and it lies with life after injury.
Our connective tissue and vertebrae, for example, are generally much weaker and more susceptible to injury, especially when you incorporate any type of rigorous exercise into your lifestyle. You also have to take into account that the chances of injury multiple as you reach and pass your 40s.
So let’s suppose it happened. You were playing squash and pivoted the wrong way and you tore a ligament in your knee; or perhaps deadlifting and felt your back go out. What next?
A CLOSER LOOK AT LIFE AFTER INJURY
So many injuries are made worse because we ignore the initial warning signs. Our egos get the best of us and we demand to push through the pain. Unfortunately, joint pain is not the type of pain you should be trying to push through.
The second you feel something is wrong, joint-related or otherwise, stop what you’re doing and rest. Alternate between applying ice and heat to the affected area five minute intervals throughout the day. This will help reduce swelling and bring blood to the injured area, which helps to heal.
RUN YOUR TESTS
Once you’re mobile again the next step is to get an exact idea of what the problem is. This means several tests: X-ray, ultrasound, and MRI. Sometimes things are not as bad as they seem, and sometimes they can be worse. X-rays alone won’t give you enough of a picture of ligament or disc injuries. It’s important to get as much information as to what went wrong in order to develop the best possible recovery strategy.
DEVELOP YOUR HEALING STRATEGY
Once you know exactly what the problem is, speak to your doctor and physiotherapist about treatment. Heading home and waiting for time to heal your injury will do more harm than good. Your body was injured because of certain weaknesses you had and it’s important to identify that weakness and strengthen it.
STAY MOBILE AND STAY ON TOP OF YOUR NUTRITION
As it pertains to your strategy, keeping some form of exercise in your routine is essential to ensure you remain healthy and promote constant blood flow throughout the body to help heal the injury. That might mean training as low as 20% of your normal energy output while avoiding the affected area of the body.
Also, many of us tend to fall off the diet wagon whenever we get hurt. This does so much more harm than you can possibly imagine. If ever there was a time where your body needs proper alimentation even more so, it’s when you’re recovering from injury. The right nutrients and macros will help speed up the healing process.
I know getting injured sucks, but don’t let it feel like the end of the world. Look at life after injury as a challenge to overcome and a new way to discover your body and its inner working. Once you’re back on track, you will have learned from the experience and will have a better plan to avoid injury from happening again.