How to Heal an Injury ASAP
Injuries happen because we train hard, which we do because we are passionate about our goals. They can totally derail a fragile client. But they can suck less if you deal with them properly.
Having played rugby, football, and dabbled in mixed martial arts, and being mentored by the best physiotherapists in the province, I’d say I’m pretty good at helping people manage injuries. As I write this I have two injuries. One in my right leg, and one in my right arm. I tell ya, it’s been a difficult few weeks, but the end is near.
The leg injury is my adductor magnus. My groin has tendonitis basically. It’s worn out from being over used. My chronic back problems (from injury in 1998) affects my legs neurologically (shuts down my glut, the primary mover). Plus I didn’t know if it was a real injury (not getting a diagnosis soon enough).
The arm injury was bad luck. I bumped my elbow on a railing and it turned into bursitis. I’m not allowed to use it for 1-2 months.
Read on for how you can deal with injuries!
Here is what you need to do:
- Accept you’re injured
- Stay positive
- Find the right practitioner to fix you
- Get a diagnosis from that person
- Follow the treatment plan
- Adapt and train what you can
- Have correct nutrition
This all seems straight-forward, but success is all about customization and nuance. Look at the disparity between two of my injuries:
2011 Healing torn rib cartilage in about ten days, b/c I knew exactly what to do and had lots of support
1995 Taking about 500 days to fix a shoulder ligament sprain because I was a fairly ignorant 19 year old
Accept that you’re injured
For intense folk like me, this can be a problem. I blame my old school coaches. You play hurt or you lose your job and the respect of the team. That program is on the hard drive.
You know who else rolls like this? Moms. Moms are too tough for their own good. They put themselves last constantly. They are like Terminators and feel no pain. That’s not just on the hard drive, that’s the evolutionary core of being a mom.
Accepting that we are injured is scary. “What’s going to happen? What about all my gains? What about my wedding or my confidence,” etc. etc.
So we push through.
Without working around the injury, it gets more and more profound. Deeper into the tissue. Compensation (limping) starts to injure other things. Ultimately stopping is inevitable but now things are worse.
It helps to know the difference between something that is sore and injured:
- Pain without movement
- Warming up doesn’t help it
- The area is hot
- The pain is on or near joints
- Pain only comes on with movement
- Warming up makes it go away
- Pain is in muscles
This tricky bit is that all the “sore” points can also indicate an injury. You might need an objective opinion (getting a diagnosis).
I can’t tell you when you are injured. A lot of it comes from experience. I can’t even say if you should err on the side of caution or push through. What I can say is follow the rest of this blog.
This will help you take action and thus heal faster.
See the right practitioner and get a diagnosis
Do you know the difference between a physiotherapist and an FCAMPT physiotherapist? The latter has four extra years of training on orthopedics and healing. They are basically the top 1% of all physios in terms of injury expertise. My colleagues are FCAMPT physios.
Do you know the difference between an old-school chiropractor and new-school? This is harder to delineate, but old school chiros usually max out your benefits whacking and cracking you every week. A new school chiro on the other hand, has a variety of treatment modalities that include not cracking your back, and look to get you out of the clinic cycle as soon as possible. My colleagues are new-school chrios.
New school chiros and FCAMPT physio are almost exactly the same in what they do.
Do you know the difference between a doctor and sport doctor? The implied title says it all. Seeing your GP for an injury is a waste of time.
Also note you should not get a diagnosis from your personal trainer. This is outside our scope of practice. We can make suggestions and encourage you to seek treatment. On that note I don’t want to brag, but I will. I correctly guessed my client’s of a back injury she didn’t know she had, by the way her squat felt in her quads and knees. She was a Type A achiever and was great at ignoring pain. She got an MRI that week and had a crushed disc in her back, and didn’t even know it.
Follow the treatment plan
Things that may seem silly or irrelevant to you, might be a major healing factor. Like those annoying little rehab exercises. They help your body learn how to move right, and they actually help at the microscopic tissue level, rebuild the tissue in the right alignment. Cool eh? Typical compliance to these exercises is 0-50%. My best compliance to rehab was about 80%. It’s just darn difficult!
The treatment plan includes avoiding re-injury. If you feel anything more than faint pain in the injured area, I want you to imagine a construction site collapsing. Concrete, iron, and wood, imploding to the ground in a cloud of dust. That is your injury losing a week of tissue rebuilding because you tested it too soon.
Adapt and train what you can
This is difficult b/c you really have to think. You probably need a programming help. Whereas your previous training routine was simply that – routine. Autopilot. And just like changing any habit, we disengage autopilot and stumble through, having to THINK each step. It takes a ton of energy.
My workout program these days:
- Leg rehab (mostly massage and stretching)
- I can do hollow rocks (picture making your body like a canoe and rocking back and forth)
- I can lift with my left arm and left leg.
- All the rest I’m not sure if I’m hurting myself. So for now, I’m not pushing it.
Historically I was terrible at exercise adaptation. I’d get hurt and just stop everything. I couldn’t mentally handle going half-speed. This is binary thinking which is like a dagger in your progress heart. Binary thinking may have led to the injury in the first place.
And I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to work around it. And if you aren’t a rehab pro, you aren’t capable of programing this either.
Basically every little bit you do counts for something, which is the advice I give to healthy clients too.
Have Correct Nutrition
Keep your protein up. Depending on how severe your injury is, your tissue turnover might have actually increased, even though you’re training less
These are much higher doses than usual:
- Vitamin A, 10,000 IU
- Vitamin C, 2,000 mg
- Copper, 4 mg
- Zinc, 30 mg
Try to spread the doses out through the day.
Use appetite awareness. We always must do this but since you will be training less, you’ll need to eat less. But don’t starve yourself or you’ll hinder injury repair.
Avoid ice and anti-inflammatories at the start. Let the natural inflammation process do it’s thing. Use these for chronic pain, like after a few weeks.
- Stay positive
- Get the right diagnosis
- Do your rehab
- assuming (good or bad outcomes) as that is the path to emotional responses, which will usually hold back your healing process more than anything else.