Staying Healthy While Recovering from and Injury
Part of a healthy lifestyle is getting fit, but if you are new to physical activity or it has been awhile, it can come with several challenges. One of the biggest setbacks that can happen in your fitness journey is an injury. Whether it is something serious requiring a lot of downtime or surgery, or something minor like a pulled muscle or minor sprain, sometimes the most frustrating part is being on the mend. Here are five steps to help you stay healthy while you recover from and injury:
1. Be patient with yourself. Any injury, whether it is a broken bone or a pulled muscle, is going to take time to heal. Some injuries might require more time to heal than others, which can lead to massive amounts of stress and frustration. While missing out on your usual activities may get you down, take this time now to focus on other aspects of your health. Just remember not to push yourself too hard in any new activities. You can actually make a minor injury worse or potentially cause a new injury.
2. Manage pain. Pain is an initial reaction to an injury, but quicker recovery happens when the pain is reduced. Proper use of anti-inflammatory painkillers and analgesics can help you work through an injury. However, caution should be taken not to overdo things, or you could be re-injuring yourself and not even know you have, so work with your doctor for a possible plan while using pain management medications. Keep in mind, improper or prolonged use of opioids could lead to a chemical dependency, so consult with your doctor about options.
2. Switch it up! If you are missing out on time running the trails, try some light lifting or even swimming to keep your cardio on point. The human body is extremely varied and oftentimes, focusing on a weakness might be just the thing you need to improve your overall health, so be flexible! According to WebMD, higher impact workouts can wreak havoc on the body, but the body’s need to maintain joint health and stay limber is consistent. If you evaluate how you got hurt, there is a good chance that neglecting proper stretching technique contributed to your injury. Work in some time to stretch and improve your stretching regimen. Injuries such as plantar fasciitis are primarily overcome by lighter activity and increased stretching. Give a workout like yoga a try to help increase your flexibility. As always, consult with your doctor before trying a new workout, particularly when attempting with an injury.
4. Ice and heat. Reducing inflammation and improving circulation are key in a quick recovery. Both of these improve the body’s ability to heal quickly, and you can help it along. Alternating ice and heat can facilitate this process, since ice tends to reduce inflammation as well as cause blood flow to retract from the extremities, and heat can help relax muscle tissue and improve comfort as well. Alternating hot and cold, in addition to chemical patches and creams to further stimulate these reactions, will trigger your body’s healing factor and can accelerate tissue repair.
5. Watch your caloric intake. Since you will be reducing your activity due to an injury, it is important to reduce your calories accordingly. You won’t need 5,000 calories a day if you aren’t maxing out on bench and dead-lifts. If you have downtime due to an ACL, you won’t be training for that marathon until the doctor clears you. So don’t comfort yourself with a pail of Rocky Road as you binge watch shows on TV. It will become easier to gain weight during the recovery period, and a heavier body will mean more strain in the short term and reduced performance on your cardio later on. Not to mention, you’ll have a more difficult time trying to bounce back into your desired activities once you receive the all-clear from the doctor.
If you are injured and need orthopedic care, or to learn more about safe activities during your recovery, contact us today.