Nothing is more frustrating than getting an injury, whether you’re an athlete or someone with an active lifestyle. In most cases, however, getting injured isn’t what frustrates most people—it’s the long recovery time that everyday athletes and busy individuals find the most challenging.
In general, the pain from an injury is often manageable. However, waiting weeks or even months to get back to the game or your usual lifestyle can take its toll. Fortunately, there are simple habits and tips you can implement to help with a faster recovery from an injury. Read on!
1. Get Physical Therapy
Depending on your injury, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. Getting physical therapy as soon as possible can help hasten your recovery. If you have a more serious injury, you may not be able to start immediately. However, with a less serious injury, you could make it a habit to go to physical therapy.
In general, your doctor will refer you to a rehabilitation center. But, if your doctor didn’t mention getting physical therapy, and you still want it to speed up your recovery, you can search online or ask for referrals. Make sure to choose a reputable rehabilitation center offering services to various locations, such as North Vancouver Services.
These rehabilitation centers use various healing strategies, from massages to light therapy and electrical stimulation to different exercises and physical activities to enhance recovery. A physical therapist can help assess your individual needs to create a customized treatment program. They can help you relieve pain while improving your range of motion and mobility. Furthermore, working with an expert physical therapist can also help prevent additional complications or injuries, helping you to get back on your feet as soon as possible.
2. Do Light Rehabilitative Exercises
If you can’t afford to visit a rehabilitation center several times a week, you can try doing your own rehabilitative workouts at home, especially if you have minor injuries. That said, it’s still recommended to visit the rehabilitation center at least a few times before you can start doing your own rehabilitative exercises.
If you plan to do so, focus more on movements that improve your range of motion and flexibility while increasing your strength. With the approval of your doctor and a physical therapist, you can do some light exercise and stretch. In particular, stretching can help in conditioning your muscles and help prevent injuries. You should also consult a licensed physical therapist on the appropriate workouts to help heal and strengthen your injured body part without causing further damage or adding more pain.
3. Use The Power Of Cold And Hot Therapy
You don’t have to be a pro athlete to know that one of the most effective ways to treat common injuries such as a bad knee or sprained ankle is with ice and heat. Doctors recommend heat and cold therapy to help relieve aching pain due to an injury of a muscle or joint damage. Therefore, it would be best to make it a habit to do heat and cold therapy.
With basic heat therapy, you can use a warm water bottle, a warm bath, or microwave-heated pads, depending on the extent of the pain. For instance, small, heated gel packs can help treat local injuries. Soaking in a warm bath is best for a full-body treatment.
Furthermore, avoid using heat on an open wound or a new injury. The temperature should be warm and comfortable; it should not be hot as it could cause burning. Also, avoid applying heat to a single area for more than 20 minutes at a time. If you want, there are also professional heat therapy treatments available.
On the other hand, for cold therapy, you can use a water bottle with cold water or a pad that’s cooled in the freezer. When using an ice pack, always wrap it in a towel. Never apply a frozen item directly to your skin since it can damage your skin and tissues. Cold treatment should be applied as soon as possible after an injury, but use it for short periods, at least 10-15 minutes to prevent skin, tissue, and nerve damage.
While you can use both therapies alone, they provide better results when used alternately. When you apply cold packs to the affected area, the blood vessels contract and reduce circulation. This eases inflammation and reduces the risk of further swelling and tissue damage. In addition, cold therapy also acts as a local anesthetic, numbing sore tissue and slowing the pain messages transmitted to your brain.
When you remove the cold, your veins will expand to overcompensate. Applying heat allows the blood vessels to expand, improves circulation, and helps tightened and sore muscles to relax. Improved circulation eliminates the buildup of lactic acid waste after working out. The incoming flow of blood also brings nutrients, helping the injured tissues to heal.
In general, alternating heat and cold therapy are suitable for exercise-induced injury, sports injury, and osteoarthritis. When using contrasting cold and heat therapy, the general rule is to have one minute of cold for every 3-4 minutes of heat. Repeat this alternation approximately three times. Make sure to start and end the therapy with ice to alleviate inflammation.
4. Rest More
The biggest mistake you can make after sustaining an injury is forcing yourself to immediately return to your normal lifestyle, sports, or activity. Doing so may worsen your injury and cause more severe damage and complications.
After an injury, your body is working hard to repair and heal the area. It can only do this properly if you get enough rest. Instead of using more energy on other things, getting enough rest allows you to provide most of your energy towards healing the injured area.
In addition, when you sleep or rest, the body increases blood flow to tissues and muscles, promoting growth and repair. Also, sleeping helps reduce your stress hormone, which helps ease internal inflammation. Not only that, but sleeping also can positively impact your alertness, mood, and energy levels.
So, make sure to get enough sleep. While you may be itching to get back to the game or your fitness goal, it’s crucial to know your limits and stop pushing yourself too much.
5. Hydrate Frequently
Whether you’re an athlete or an active person, you know how important hydration is. But, when your routine is thrown off by a sudden injury, it’s easy to forget hydrating as much as you typically do.
However, hydration is even more essential when you’re suffering from an injury. You may not sweat for cycling your miles or playing sports, but your body is actually working hard to repair and replace damaged tissue. This causes you to lose water faster than usual. So, you’ll need plenty of hydration to keep up with your body’s healing process.
Thus, you want to increase your water intake by at least six cups a day. You should drink natural fruit juices and eat foods with high water content to compensate for water loss in the body. This ensures that the body has enough resources to make a speedier recovery after an injury.
6. Eat Healthily
Eating nutritious food is critical for better recovery after an injury. You must eat a well-balanced meal to provide your body with the necessary nutrients for faster healing. Now more than ever, your body requires good fuel to function properly and support better recovery. Plus, eating healthily can make you feel stronger and more energetic to ensure overall health.
In general, there are several types of foods you need to add to your meals to help the body heal faster after an injury. Leafy green veggies and fruits, and food rich in omega-3 fats, can help minimize inflammation. Meanwhile, protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken, and beef help promote muscle building.
Taking more calcium-rich foods such as cheese, milk, almonds, yogurt, and soft-boned fish is essential for bone injuries such as fractures. Also, the body will need more vitamin D to help in better calcium absorption.
7. Immobilize And Elevate The Injured Part
The best way to recover faster from an injury is to stop using the injured part of the body. By immobilizing the injured area, you prevent even the slightest movement that can aggravate the injury or cause more complications. You can wrap up the injured area with a supportive shell. Also, the resulting compression can help prevent fluid buildup and minimize swelling.
Injury braces come in all sizes, shapes, and purposes. Make sure to wear a sturdy brace during the day when you’re moving around, protecting it against impacts while taking some of the weight. At night, make it a habit to use a softer supportive brace to hold the area in a safe position when sleeping.
In addition to immobilizing the area, you should elevate your injury above the level of your heart. This helps in reducing swelling by allowing the fluid to drain away from the injured area. If you can raise the injured part above your heart, try keeping it at the same level as your heart or as close as it can be. For instance, if you’ve suffered an injury on your hips or buttocks, lie down with a pillow under your lower back or buttocks to lift it.
Injuries take time to heal. You may feel frustrated or down with what happened. However, patience is key to recovering properly. That and the tips and habits above should help you get back on your feet faster.