Injuries are frustrating at the best of times. They are common in athletes or people involved with any type of physical activity but particularly high impact sports. When your injury isn’t getting better there are some important aspects to consider.
You are trying to go it alone or mis-diagnosed your own injury
Often we see people present with injuries that are months old or even longer. People often think that the injury will heal and the pain will eventually go away. In some instances the injury can become chronic. When injuries become chronic they are not likely to heal themselves over night when you eventually do see a health professional. Long term injuries are most likely going to take long term to resolve. Your health professional team are there to correctly diagnose your injury and provide a suitable management plan. Self therapy like icing and rolling may help temporarily but doesn’t address other factors like strength and proprioception, biomechanical influences etc.
Nutrition is a very important factor in the healing process. When you are injured your body’s protein needs increase as well as requiring all of the essential vitamins and minerals that are key to to promoting cellular repair and growth. Eating too little or consuming processed foods have been shown to have a detrimental effect on cell healing. If you feel that your diet could be improved or altered its best to talk to a qualified health professional that specialises in this area as increasing your intake of certain proteins, vitamins and minerals can also have a detrimental effect particularly if you suffer from certain health conditions.
We know now from clinical studies that alcohol has a negative effect on muscle repair. Drinking alcohol affects your sleep and this in turn affects the amount of a hormone called Human Growth Hormone that is released when you are asleep and is responsible for repairing muscle and cell growth. Alcohol consumption can reduce the release of this hormone by 70%!
You need to be committed to doing your rehabilitation exercises and whatever other management/ treatment advice your treating clinician has recommended. Your rehab exercises aren’t going to be effective if you skip multiple days without doing them or if you aren’t doing them with correct technique.
Stopping Activity All Together
Depending on your injury, it’s best not to stop physical activity all together (but you should stop the aggravating activities!) E.g if you develop plantar fasciitis (heel pain), you can still maintain aerobic fitness by cycling, swimming or rowing, which are not high impact on the heel. You can always work around a specific injury. Tendons, muscles and joints do not respond well to long periods of rest or immobilisation. Conversely if you are still doing the aggravating activities or not allowing enough time to recover, this will reduce your injury healing time.
Working with a good team of health professionals and looking after yourself in terms of nutrition, sleep and committing yourself to the rehab process your injury will soon be a thing of the past!
For further reading: