Now you’ve gone and done it. You didn’t warm up properly or you pushed your workout harder than you’re used to, and you’ve injured yourself. Even worse is that you can’t undo the past, and the only solution is to give your body what it needs, by gradually progressing along the road to recovery. Bite the bullet and take the following valuable steps which should help you there in the fastest time frame possible.
Get Some Rest
While this list is stocked full of useful suggestions, the simple fact is that you will not recover unless you remove all strain from the injured area, and allow your body’s natural restoration process to take its course. It’s the most obvious advice for good reason, as the best way to start, is to stop completely
Experiment with Temperatures
The moment any injury strikes, your first move should be the application of a cold pack to the troubled region (either in the form of an ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in a towel); this type of frozen treatment will reduce the inflammation and numb the pain. After three days of this, switch to a heating pad or a long soak in the tub, as the warmth will increase your blood flow and loosen any stiffness, allowing you to regain some flexibility as you slowly stretch yourself back towards health.
Speaking of stretching, that’s probably what you didn’t do before your injury, and now here you are. Better late than never, so try to win back some of your mobility by gently stretching those inflamed joints. Don’t push yourself and be very careful, but with the correct mindful technique, you should build up some strength and prevent any further trauma.
Use gravity to your advantage by propping your injured area up on pillows, raising them above your heart level. This will prevent any buildup of fluid as it runs away from the swelling, and in turn, should reduce the inflammation.
Restricting the movement of your damaged region will avoid further tears or sprains. Wrap your pain up with an elastic bandage, hugging it tight, but not so tight that it causes further swelling. Compression is also praised as a great way to enhance blood flow and oxygen delivery.
Get a Massage
As if you need an excuse, a massage will help work out any knotted tissues, improve circulation, relax your stresses, distract from the pain, and just feel great all around. If you can’t afford to dance away to the masseuse every time you hurt yourself, invest in a foam roller or a massage ball, as these will ease pain, help your warm-ups and recovery time. Just remember to never massage directly on your place of injury, as this can aggravate the problem.
You can boost your body’s healing powers substantially by keeping an eye on the food you consume. Concentrate on vitamin C (berries, broccoli, citrus) for the immune system, vitamin A (carrots, kale, sweet potato) to charge your infection-fighting white blood cells, and Amino Acid supplements for increased muscle function. Eat a light protein snack before bed for additional repairing points whilst sleeping, hydrate more than ever, and stop drinking alcohol entirely. Sorry!
This may seem contradictory to the point about getting ample rest, but by participating in low-impact exercises (such as yoga or swimming), your overall fitness can remain at a recommended level whilst your wounded region will gain some muscle stimulation in order speed up its rehabilitation. That said, if you are unsure about anything, always speak to an expert first.
Leaning on a pharmaceutical crutch may not exactly speed up your recovery time, but it can make a huge difference in your overall quality of life. Anti-inflammatory and/or pain medications will allow you to think about something else other than the throbbing agony, and muscle relaxants will tame your spasms if this is a current concern. As always, follow each medication’s instructions very carefully, do not take any drug for an extended period of time, and never train when dosed up as you might not feel when something else goes wrong.
Speak to a Professional
If you have followed the above advice and do not see much of an improvement after around two weeks, it’s time to go speak to a medical professional face-to-face to ensure that nothing too serious is lying beneath this. But whether they prescribe more powerful medication, send you to a physical therapist, or recommend surgery, it is better to get some peace of mind rather than risk a permanent development which you may never recover from.