Injuries! At some point, nearly everyone faces them, and I have yet to meet anyone happy about it. As a trainer and an athlete I work very hard at making sure people (including me) train smart and avoid injuries, but once in a while, something odd happens, and there you are. Busted up and frustrated.
So now what? First off, get the injury properly assessed immediately! Don’t walk it off, assume it’s fine, trust it will settle or whatever.
Find out what you are dealing with! I have met people that have injuries that are months or years old, and by then, so much harder to help with. Permanent scar tissue sets in and coming back is way harder than it needs to be.
Choose a practitioner that is appropriate for the injury: a medical doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor etc.
If you don’t know who to call, ask around, people will recommend who to see and who to avoid.
We have a list of specialists we trust with our clients and use them all the time to help people get back to optimal health! Once you have the injury assessed and a plan starts to form as to what to do, then there are other things you can put in place as well.
First off, just because you injured your ankle, or wrist or whatever, that is NOT permission to drop all exercise and sit on the couch for three months – please don’t do that.
A few days off, for sure, and keep it light to let your body heal, but stay consistent with your workout times and do what you can, obviously avoiding the injured area.
If you hurt your back, well, that is a little more sensitive and requires special consideration, but even then there are things you can do. A trainer can really help with that!
I used to have a disc that bulged out all the time and I discovered, through my chiropractor, a device called a ‘Spine Power Belt’ and it held my hips in place while my back healed. It cut my recovery time down from a month or so to a week.
Ask questions – people are inventing stuff all the time! Next, you need to take care of your nutrition. It is so easy when injured to just feel bad, sit on the couch and over indulge in junk food, but that is the last thing you need to do.
The first stage of injury is inflammation: the body responds to the injury and causes swelling, pain, heat and such.
That’s good, that is the natural response and will bring the cavalry to start working on the problem.
During stage one, you need to eat healthy oils and fats like avocado, fish oil, fish (salmon, mackerel etc) and mixed nuts and seeds.
Avoid stuff like foods with trans fats (which you should always avoid), things like chips, cookies, candies, processed food and processed meats etc.
Add in things like garlic, pineapple and curry or turmeric.
Those all help with this process and extra antioxidants are also great at this time – like really colorful fruits and veggies.
Get adequate rest too, 7.5 to eight hours a night and try to make it consistent. Set your bedtime and waking time to be as similar day to day as possible.
The next stage of injury is called proliferation and that is when old damaged tissue is removed by the body, new tissue is constructed, as well as new blood flow pathways to help the healing process.
At this time you need to be eating a little more than usual to help your metabolism with the extra work.
Definitely a solid supply of protein from healthy sources like meat, fish, eggs etc.
Keep things in balance with around a 30% protein, 40% carbs (yes, carbs) and 30% fats but choose good fats as above.
Keep those fruits and veggies in the rainbow – colour is good. A great multi vitamin is always on my list, but even more so now, and with perhaps a little extra Vitamin A, C and minerals like copper and zinc as well as glutamine.
These help the healing process big time! (Of course consult with your doctor on this.)
The final and third stage of an injury process is remodeling. Permanent tissue replaces temporary scar tissue and the injury begins to get stronger and stronger.
Keep on those healthy food choices of course, and slowly, when cleared to do so, begin strength training for the injured site.
Above all, do not sit around and wait for things to heal on their own. Check in with a professional and get help right away in order to minimize the time you are injured and get back in the game.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.