Second to nutrition, I’d say the biggest factor that inhibits people’s progress towards their goals is injuries. With any exercise or physical activity, whether it be in the gym or outside, unfortunately injuries can happen. Obviously with correct technique and optimal joint loading we can reduce the risk of them happening, but what can we do if we are plagued with an injury? Take a look below for my top strategies to manage and recover from injuries.
Seek Professional Help
I’m a personal trainer and nutritional advisor, so I’m by no means in any position to deal with serious injuries. From my years of experience in the industry and personal injuries that I’ve sustained (a few years back I suffered with this awful lower back tweak for almost 12 months! And I occasionally get some rotator cuff tendinitis) I know enough to offer some basic advice, but your first port of call if you are suffering should be to visit a qualified professional such as a physio or chiropractor for some help.
It’s very easy to let an injury drag you down and demotivate you, especially if it’s one that been lingering around for many months. Try not to let this happen, you should have in your mind that little setbacks like this are only opportunities for comebacks! Be positive, focus on your recovery and rehab and set yourself realistic goals for your recovery progress.
Work Around The Issue, Not Through It
This goes without saying, but you’d be surprised of the amount of people that will just keep smashing through sessions and ignoring pain. Even when told to lay off the area by a professional, it usually goes in one ear and out the other. Always work around the issue, not through it. For example, if you’re suffering with severe knee pain don’t go and load the barbell up for some heavy squats. There is however no reason why you couldn’t do some upper body or core work just to keep you ticking over until you’re all clear.
Focus On Reducing Inflammation
Think of inflammation around an injury as protective mechanism to the body to prevent further damage and infection. For a long time studies have suggested inflammation is the main culprit for causing pain, stiffness and soreness at the site of the injury. So clearing inflammation as fast as possible is a must! Forget drugs, here’s some nutrition and lifestyle tips you can implement to rapidly reduce inflammation:
-Double your current intake of omega 3.
-Add turmeric into your diet.
-Drink at least three cups of green tea per day.
-Relax and rest more.
-Promote blood flow with contrast baths (hot/cold).
-Promote blood flow by wearing compression garments.
Increase Protein Intake
During a period of injury it may be wise to increase your protein intake. Simply because protein turnover is generally slightly higher during recovery. This can help heal the body faster. In conjunction to this, It’s also wise to watch your overall calorie intake too, because most people are slightly less active when injured and will therefor pile on the pounds if they eat an excess of calories.
Heat It Up
So many people go for the ice after soft tissue injuries. I believe ice should only really be used within the first 48 hours of sustaining the injury. After that it’s heat all the way. The reason being, ice restricts blood flow. This is great initially after an injury as it can prevent further swelling, bruising and inflammation. Heat however, encourages blood flow to tissues and is exactly what we want for a speedy recovery. Fresh blood means fresh nutrients for repair.
Mobilise Upstream And Downstream
Now this is quite general and is entirely dependant on the injury, however for minor tweaks, simply mobilising upstream and downstream of the issue can really help. For example, tweaky knees? Foam roll the calves, quads and hamstrings. Sore shoulder? Get a lacrosse ball into the upper pec and lats. This works so well because many exercise related injuries and soft tissue tweaks are often a result of poor mechanics and unsafe joint loading. Taking our example of the sore shoulder, what can often happen is a tight chest will drag the shoulder joint forward into a bad position and then you shoulder press and chest press on it like nothing is wrong. This is when things go wrong and pain flares up.
Give It Time
Above everything else give yourself plenty of time and rest to recover. I know it’s hard being out of the routine, but if you’re too eager to get back into it you could end up doing more damage than it’s worth! Rest up, let your body recover and only start training on the injury again when you’re 100% confident you’re recovered.