Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Recovering from an injury requires a holistic approach
Your body will HEAL itself when given the right parameters
Recovery takes HARD work
What does it mean to recover from an injury? Everyone’s definition of this will probably differ slightly, but the most common meaning I see is some form of -
I want to get back to the activities I could do before without pain.
The goal itself is simple, but the process to achieve the goal takes hard work, persistence, and guidance in a wide variety of areas.
Ingredients of recovery
Physical Reconditioning - surprisingly, this is the easiest part of them all. The work is hard and uncomfortable at times but progress can be seen easily. The trickiest part of rebuilding physical capacity is managing the work load. Too much load can lead to a set back, while too little load can lead to a stall in progress. Find the sweet spot where the work is challenging and the pain is manageable and your body will have what it needs to rebuild bigger, better, and stronger.
Mental Toughness - the road to recovery can be a LONG one. Injuries can linger for months and even years. There’s no way around it - managing the mental stress of recovering from an injury is BRUTAL. Build a support team who help you along the way, control what you can, and most importantly....ask for help!
Nutrition - This is probably one of the most neglected areas during recovery (and in general). While we should always strive to nourish our bodies with the best food possible, during recovery it’s even more important. What you eat provides your body with the building blocks it needs to heal. Eating highly processed, sugary/fatty foods will leave your body with minimal useful nutrients for recovery. On the flip side, filling your body with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and some lean protein will facilitate increased growth in injured tissue.
Sleep - your body heals when you sleep. If you are only sleeping 5-6 hours a night you are missing out on 2 hours of healing each night. 2 hours may not seem like a lot, but over the course of a month you would be missing out on 60 hours of healing time!
Leaving Out an Ingredient
The list above is a broad overview of the factors needed to heal and I could probably spend hours talking in detail about each. So, what happens if you leave out an ingredient? The process of healing will be slower and less efficient than it should be. In many cases, even with suboptimal conditions, your body has an amazing capacity to heal. However, when healing occurs in the presence of poor nutrition, poor sleep, or a mismanaged workload, the results are usually variable and temporary. Sometimes you will feel better for a few weeks or even a few years, but the problem will likely return as a similar or more intense version in the future.
The Role of a Physical Therapist
I often explain that recovering from an injury is like climbing Mount Everest. To climb Mount Everest you can plan your own route, buy your own gear, carry all your gear, and make the climb by yourself. Or, you can go with a group and hire a Sherpa to help plan the route, make sure you have the right gear, help carry your gear, and support you on the long, hard journey. But to get to the top of Mount Everest with a Sherpa, you still have to do A TON OF HARD WORK. A good physical therapist is like a Sherpa. They help you plan your path to recovery and guide you through the process, but you still have to do A TON OF HARD WORK. When you have an injury, you can recover on your own, or you can find someone who helps challenge and support you on the journey.
Best of luck on your recovery and if you are interested in learning more about working with Blue Iron Physio, click here, to set up a call!