Whether you’re a gym addict, a marathon runner or a football or die kind of guy. Or you jog on the weekends, play rugby for fun, and have just started going to the gym – it doesn’t matter. When you get an injury through any kind of exercise it sucks. Not only does it put you out of the game, it can also mess with your head. If you use sport or exercise as an outlet for stress or to unwind at the end of the week, not having that release can take a mental toll. And that strain doesn’t just slip away as you recover – If your injury has been a serious one, you can often get back to it and push yourself too hard and realise that your body isn’t at the same level as it was before the accident.
Say you’re a runner who has torn his hamstring; you can keep working on the rest of your body, but your leg muscles will take time past the healing stage to build back up to where they once were. And at the same time your level of cardio stamina will have decreased as you wouldn’t be able to maintain the fitness level you were at. It’s important to recognise that your recovery is as much in your head as it is within your body from the moment your receive your injury – that way you can help manage and disappointments or prolonged time frames you come up against.
Once you have recognised that, you can then look at preparing your body to get back in the game.
Time to heal
You have to allow yourself time to heal. Too many people out there don’t take their doctor’s recommendations seriously – just because you can walk on that ankle again, doesn’t mean that it’s ready to kick a ball across a field. You have to listen, not only to your doctor, but also to your body. Often we will feel a twinge or a bit of discomfort and dismiss it which leads to an even bigger problem – and that’s just in everyday life. When you’re recovering from an injury, that deafness towards your body can set your healing back and even make it worse than it was in the first place. Giving yourself time to heal doesn’t have to mean that you have to stop doing anything – a wrist injury doesn’t stop you walking or jogging. But do check with your doctor first in case they have concerns of you jolting your injury.
See a professional
Apart from your doctor – who should be your number one point of call. You will often get referred to a physiotherapist for sports injury treatment. These exercises and practices are medically proven to help your injury heal quickly and properly while building up the muscle surrounding it – a good muscular support system surrounding an injured bone can really help it to set properly. On top of a physio, it might be suggested to you to go and see an acupuncturist or to have a sports massage to help with the pain and the tightness that can occur through healing.
Do the physio
Once you begin physiotherapy sessions with a therapist, you will be given exercises to do – often multiple times a day. Make sure you do them. These exercises that you do at home are what help the healing process – seeing a physiotherapist once a week isn’t enough for your body. For severe injuries, it’s likely that your at home exercises will require a helping hand, so enlist the help of your partner, friend or family member to help you on your road to recovery.
Build up your strength
Once you have been given the all clear to exercise again- introduce it to your body slowly. You might feel great on day one and push yourself to do more than you thought you would be able to, but you’re guaranteed to feel it the next day. Start off slowly with the basics and don’t push yourself to get that workout burn. It might take a good few weeks or even a couple of months to be able to complete the routines you used to – but take it slowly – it can’t be stressed more. The sooner you push your body the more stress you put onto the newly healed a week part of your body. If you need to support your injury with sports tape, then ask your physio for advice on the best way to apply it to benefit your body. If you need an extra day off from the gym, then give it to yourself. A great exercise to do to help build up your strength and cardio while also receiving a decent workout is swimming. The water offers support to your injury, while the actual exercise works your entire body. Even so, start slowly – you don’t need to be flying through the water on day one.
Ease back in
Now that you have built back your strength, you can start to think about getting back into the game. If your a runner, work your way up from a 5k or a smoother trail run – you might be able to do it in your sleep, but it’s a great way for your to test how your body is doing and where you are progress wise. And don’t book a marathon a month later – spread it out and take your time. Enjoy the run and don’t think of it as a competition – and simply be amazed with the wonders of your newly healed body. The same can be said for those getting back into a sport – play for the B team or have a friendly game with some mates – test out your body and don’t push it too much.
Don’t push yourself obeying what your body is telling you is okay.
Do the exercises for as long as your physio tells you to.
Go slow and don’t expect yourself to be at the same level you were before – muscle memory is amazing and you’ll gain that strength back in no time.
And always stretch properly and thoroughly before undergoing any sort of exercise.