I’m no stranger to injury. Infact if I were to recant and give a brief explanation of all my various injuries be they superficial or severe I would have a long long post and my posts are long enough. That being said I’ve always managed to recover to a stronger more athletic version of myself and move and perform the high impact discipline of pakrour afterwards. I’ve reverse engineered what I do everytime I accrue a new injury and will be sharing the simple yet effective approach I use to get back to training as soon as possible.
1. Stop Everything
Okay so you’ve just injured yourself and you’re hurting be it playing a sport, strength training or living your day to day life. Stop whatever it is you were doing and wait. Take an objective observation on how severe what you’ve done is trying to remain emotionally detached especially if you are playing a sport as returning to do whatever it was that injured yourself could increase the time it takes to recover and do damge you won’t be able to ever recover from….even if it’s stopped hurting. That’s right.
2. R.I.C.E – sort of
Ok so I’m sure you’ve all heard of Rest.Ice.Compress.Elevate. but if you hurt your neck or shoulders how are you meant to elevate or compress these parts of the body especially if you are on your own. Also how often do you rest for and how should you be icing? Is R.I.C.E even that effective?
Continuing on from the first point of Stop Everything, resting is exactly that. Take time off work if need be but you will need time especially if it’s severe or a back injury to firstly understand what is wrong and how address the problem. You may be in more or less pain the next couple of days or experience a lack of mobility in the area.
Secondly icing the area immediately is essential especially if there’s swelling. I always take the approach of using an ice cube or two and massaging it into the area until numb and then waiting until normal temperature and feeling has returned. Firstly this is more effective than just slapping a steak on the area as firstly thats just a waste of steak, secondly the steak/bag of peas or ice pack may not be in complete contact with the area of injury and thirdly massaging the area with an ice cube or two although requires more focus to the area will actually speed up the time it takes to numb the area sufficiently. I have repeated the process of icing until numb and waiting for the area to return to body temperature with a 30 minute break afterwards up to 8 times a day. It is highly effective.
Typical compression has always been really ineffective for me. Wrapping up ankles or any area where there is swelling or pain just has been ineffective at reducing swelling but has always limited mobility. Limiting mobility in this way can be useful IF returning to training or the sport while still injured but we’re not doing that for obvious reasons and if you do this, expect more pain. That being said there is an effect where blood will rush to an area of body if it has been unable to previously, for example due to compression, and blood is going what you’re body is going to use to carry the necesssary nutrients to the area that requires attention but also carry away any undesirable by products too. This is known as occulsion technique and is very simple. Simply compress the area of injury, except spine and neck, with a flat resistance band or tube at 80% tension and keep it on until there is discolouration in the rest of the limb (thats due to a lack of blood flow) and the simply take the band off and what blood flow back to the area.
Elevation is neccessary when trying to reduce swelling but beyond that doesn’t seem to have had any other effect on me other than teaching me to stay off the injured area.
3. Research research research
I’m assuming you’re at home doing my version of R.I.C.E but what do you spend most of your mental energy doing. Instead of wathcing tv or chatting away online about how pissed you are that you can’t train at the moment start researching how and why it happened and the best ways to treat the injury in all eventualities so you can create a simple plan of how to recover. This is predominantly how I have such a deep level of knowledge of anatomy and physiology with reguards to training as after learning the basics I kept injurying myself…every where. So I was able to understand the relationship between the different tissues.
This time should predominantly used to eliminate what the problem isn’t provided it isn’t obvious and in the case of over use injuries what is the actual CAUSE not just what the symptoms are and create that plan of action.
If you’re not sure what I mean by research. Go to google and type in a description of your injury and dig further and further down until you know exactly what the problem is.
4. Visit your MD
At this point I would see a doctor, preferable a physiotherapist which specialises in the area you’ve injured and see if your diagnosis was the same as theirs. With enough knowledge you should be able to diagnose the issue better than a doctor as you are the one experiencing the pain. Their reference is completely 3rd person where as yours will be 1st. This is easy to say but requires time and a greater understanding of anatomy & physiology. I would also suggest not simply seeing one but at least 3 medical professionals to diagnose you. Expect them to say differing things.
5. Self Treat
Now it’s time to kick some ass and do some real work. This is the main recovery phase. Your goal here is to follow the advice of you prefered MD but also focus on training the rest of your body provided it isn’t at the expense of your injured area. This will inadvertantly strengthen the injured area even though you aren’t training it specifically and keep you motivated to keep working on the injured area
An element of self experimentation should be here too learning what is and isn’t helping you recover long term, just remember to give each exercise a chance, and focus on what is currently the most effective
It is tempting to return to training full pelt but patience is a must otherwise you will easily reinjure yourself turning it into a recurring problem and much more severe taking an even longer time to recover. Something you must also consider is that just because you’re pain free doesn’t mean you’re 100%.
7. Become an even better version of your previous self
Okay so you’re pain free and the injury seems to be gone. Well not so fast if you’re performing at the same level you were previously you’re probably still susceptable to injuring yourself in the same way as before or similar. A good general rule is to make sure you’re stronger, more mobile and have greater motor control than previously especially with regards to how you first injured yourself.