We’ve all been there. Your training is going awesome, you’re feeling great, and you’re well on your way to reaching the goals you set out to achieve—then it happens. Life, as you know it stops suddenly and you are faced with the daunting task of rehabbing from an injury.
It effing sucks. Period.
If the injury is soft tissue related—meaning something hurts but you’re not exactly sure what it is, and Google doesn’t seem to know either—many of us do the following:
Ignore it – if we don’t acknowledge it, it can’t be that bad, right?
Take a rest day… sort of
Ice it, take an Advil, take another Advil, and then go train. Repeat
Work through it – no pain no gain?
Fast-forward 3 months—
Your injury is still there. But probably worse
Other areas are now compensating
Overall performance has plummeted
Frustration is prominent
Addressing it still feels like it’s going to get in the way
Have you ever felt like you’re getting sick, decide to take the day off from work and then magically felt better the next day? Or have you ever been so tired due to lack of sleep only to wake up feeling awesome after finally allowing yourself to rest?
Well the truth of the matter is, life is better when you deal with shit! Injuries need to be treated when they happen or else you will not get better.
If you’re stubborn—like most of us—then the steps below are for you. If you choose not to follow them, then you reserve the right to complain to no one but yourself when you don’t see results and continue to have pain. Sorry, but it needed to be said.
7 Steps To Successfully Recover From An Injury
Step 1: Stop testing what hurts
I see this all the time. A client comes in complaining of shoulder pain and knows the 17 different movements that produce pain because they are constantly “checking” to see if it still hurts. Before I go any further, please don’t do this. Though it’s important to know the range of motion that you can comfortably move in. Purposely trying to reproduce pain is something very different, and should be avoided.
Step 2: Allow adequate time for initial inflammation to settle
This is highly dependent on the injury, but generally 24 to 72 hours of rest is recommended for most soft tissue injuries.
Just to be sure that we are on the same page, resting for a day or two does not ensure that your injury will be healed—even though you will likely experience some reduction in pain, and even some restoration of movement—but it will help your body recovery in the initial healing phase. Plus, chances are good that you will benefit from a little extra rest in more ways than one.
Step 3: Work in a pain-free range of motion
To establish this you will need to dabble in the pain zone momentarily—which is different from the point I described above. Ideally you should have no increase in pain during exercise, and only minimal after. If you do experience additional pain, then you are probably making your problem worse. Pain is valuable information; and a lot of what you need to learn how to listen to it.
Step 4: Seek out treatment!
Talk to your doctor (if needed) and figure out what is going to help get you back to what you like to the fastest—whether that be physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, acupuncture, osteopathy, or of course kinesiology and active rehabilitation.
In my experience certain injuries typically respond well to certain treatments. However, often a combination of treatments is required to speed up the recovery process and ensure the greatest success. Every injury is different and everyone responds differently to treatment. Knowing your body is important and seeking out great practitioners is crucial.
Step 5: Figure out things to do while your injury is healing
Just because you’re injured doesn’t mean you have to stop doing everything. Think about what you can do while your injury is healing that will be beneficial and not worsen your symptoms. The options are endless—trust me, at BIM, we help many people identify movements they can do while they recover. So don’t let an injury to one area or even multiple areas bring you down.
It’s also important to understand that “pain” is only one measure of progress. Often we see improvements in overall stability, strength, range of motion, and function without always having the client report a reduction in pain. Pain is a tricky variable that needs to be respected and understood.
Step 6: Find out exactly what you need to do to #GoBeyondBetter
Stick to the rules of progressive overload. How can you progress steadily without experiencing a setback? What is weak that needs to be strengthened? Are you compensating in any way as a result of your injury? Why did your injury occur in the first place? Have you dealt with it? Guaranteed you will recover a LOT faster if you slowly progress yourself in a strategic way, rather than over do it and having to regress.
Step 7: Learn from you experience(s). Please and thank you
As with anything in life, learning from your past experience in crucial and will further ensure that you don’t find yourself faced with injury again.
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