Injury Management: When Should You Return to Your Activity?
Posted on 21st November 2019 at 10:00
You’ve been injured. You’ve rested. Now you’re bored. And restless. And I imagine you’ll have to go back to work at some point too. So, what’s the plan?
If you’ve heeded my advice from my previous post on Injury Management, you’ll have optimally loaded the area and wisely paid us a visit at Fire & Earth. The inflammatory response, aka the traffic wombles on the motorway that is your site of injury have cleared the area of any damage tissue.
But what’s next, you ask?
This is where we have to be sensible when returning from injury, and not let subjectivity overrule objectivity. And what I mean by this is we, as a team, need to stand back and assess what’s important.
Using my tried and tested running analogy/metaphor/comparison, I shall hopefully demonstrate what I mean.
You, the reader, who for argument’s sake are a runner, and you’ve hurt your ankle. This is not fantastic but its shows you’re alive and out there doing what you love. As the song goes, everybody hurts… sometimes.
If you’ve been reading my blogs you’ll know by now that that first 24 to 48 hours is the vital inflammatory response period. Additionally, you’ll have been using the area, in this case your ankle, as much as you can pain-free, aka optimally loading. By using it you’re stressing the undamaged fibres while allowing the new fibres to be exposed to a percentage of the forces the joint will experienced once it’s healed. Sound familiar? Good.
So, the objectivity I mentioned previously: what do I mean? As a fairly active individual who has been injured before, for a variety of reasons, I can be totally honest with you that I say being injured is crap. You may have hit a grand stride in your training, got some PBs, or you may even have an event coming up that you were looking forward to. And now you’re injured. Crap.
This is where we need to stand back and look at the bigger picture. Injury is going to happen: we can’t prevent that. You may have been injured because you had some sort of underlying biomechanical insufficiency: a muscular imbalance that had gone unnoticed because other muscles were compensating, but this wasn’t an issue until the event of injury. In layman’s terms: other structures doing more than their fair share, but ultimately this was unsustainable.
However, the reason for your injury may have been unfortunately due to an external factor. If you play a contact sport you can’t control the opposition. Equipment and terrain are two other huge external factors that we ultimately as human beings have very little control over, yet can influence our bodies tremendously.
What we do when we are injured though can have a massive impact on not only our time to return to the activity but also can have lasting positive effects on our activity in itself. We can’t really speed up the healing process, but we certainly can slow it down.
To stay with the ankle scenario, my advice to you would be to keep doing what we’ve discussed previously. However, additionally, I would encourage you to engage in other activities, like any gym work you may do, which doesn’t involve the injured ankle. By maintaining even some degree of training within your life will stop you thinking all is lost. And it’ll stop you moping round the house.
Another fine avenue you can pursue is nutrition. Stop and objectively look at what you’re consuming. Is it all necessary? What can be improved? Use that time away from your activity to re-assess and potentially bring about some positive changes.
Another one related to nutrition and injury is alcohol. I know, it’s potentially not what you want to hear: you’re injured, it’s getting colder and darker now, and the pub is nice and warm. Just let it be known that excessive alcohol does prolong the recovery time for soft tissue injuries. So, moderation is key.
Ultimately, everyone will have a different recovery time. It’s how we respond that influences this timeline. By widening our horizons in reference to our beloved pastimes, we can begin to understand injury is not just perfectly natural, but an opportunity to come back even stronger.
If you’re at that stage where you are beginning to get angsty about getting back out there, get booked in, so we can best advise you on what you need to do.
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