Recovering From an Injury: Do it the Smart Way

The weekend warriors are probably the worst.  They sit at a desk all week, barely moving, and then burst onto the fields on Saturday and Sunday full of vim and vigor and ready to play hard. Then injuries start to happen.  It could be as minor as a blister or as serious as a broken bone. More likely it’s a pulled muscle.  And they spend Sunday evening with a bag of ice wondering why they did what they did.

Recovering from an injury is easy, if you’re smart.  The trick is to pace yourself during your recovery.  We had a great discussion about it last night on the #FitstudioTwitter chat and lots of people were chiming in with their injuries and solutions.

Here are some tips …

Rule out something serious.  If you’re getting sharp pains, or the pain lasts for more than a few days, you need to see your doctor.  Don’t fool around with an injury and turn something minor into a chronic issue.

R.I.C.E. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation are the hallmarks of injury recovery.  Use the joint as little as possible, try to keep weight off of it, ice for 20 minutes three to four times a day, if there’s swelling add compression in the form of an ace bandage, and keep the injury above heart level for speedier recovery.  It’s really not that hard to do and it will ensure that you get back to your sport in less time.

Consider seeing a physical therapist. Even if it doesn’t seem “that bad,” a referral to a physical therapist can help speed recovery.  PTs will give you an evaluation and some exercises specific to your injury to help you heal quickly.  You might only need a session or two, but it can really make a difference as to how strong you come back to your sport.  The same exercises will also make it less likely that you’ll re-injure the area.

Cross-train while you heal. Maybe you’re a runner with a knee injury who is sidelined from races, but you can still cross-train with other types of cardio.  A lot of people can still do a recumbent bike while recovering from an injury, or if you can’t run, maybe you could walk instead.  Check with a doctor or PT before attempting something too strenuous and if it feels worse immediately back off.  This can also be a great time to hit the weights if you’re a cardio queen or vice versa.  You might find you come back from your injury stronger than ever.

Hire a coach. If you love a particular sport and you’ve had more than one injury, I strongly suggest hiring a coach.  It means you are mechanically doing something wrong and a coach will be able to see your form and make corrections to prevent future injuries.  Hiring a coach doesn’t have to be expensive, check for local groups that you can join for a low monthly or annual fee and get some advice that way.

Have you had an injury that you had to recover from?  How long did it take you?  Did you make any mistakes along the way?  I’d love to hear your stories.