Getting injured can be hard to take.
Unfortunately it happens to everyone (amateurs and professionals alike) and in most cases there is nothing we can do to prevent it. What is important following an injury is to not dwell on the ‘why’ but look to the future to understand how you can return to action fitter and stronger than before.
The problem most people have with injuries is that they don’t like to just sit there and rest, or listen to their physio as they want to get back out there and it is this eagerness (and potential for ignorance of professional advice) that can lead to even more problems.
In this post, we will look at some of the most common mistakes people make when recovering from an injury:
1. Not resting enough
Medical advice following an injury is to adhere to the RICE principles, which are rest, ice, compression and elevation.
The first one of these, rest, is extremely important as it allows your body time to heal. When you are suffering from a cold think of how much better you feel after a good night’s sleep. It’s a chance for your body to rest and work on fixing the problem.
Think of it this way, when you were a child and fell over your wound would eventually scab over. Remember when you knocked the scab off (by accident or by other means) and it would sometimes bleed? This is because it wasn’t ready to come off and it’s the same with an injury.
2. Returning to exercise or sport too soon
You may be eager to return to your chosen sport as there is nothing worse than sitting on the sidelines and not being able to join in but doing too much too soon can be bad news.
If you return to action too soon then your body won’t have had chance to heal and you run the risk of either seeing a repeat of the injury, or in in some cases, making it even worse.
For example, if you have suffered a sprained ankle and return to running too soon then there is an increased risk of spraining your ankle again as there may be a lack of stability, so whilst it may be tempting to put your running shoes on, think again and maybe leave it a few days.
3. Take it easy when you do return to action
When you do return to action, take it easy and don’t go flat out on your first outing. If you’ve been out of action for a few weeks then your first time running again should be something simple, not running a marathon, as you’re just increasing the chances of something going wrong.
When you’re fully fit you need to take your time and gradually work back up to your previous levels, ensuring you take on manageable bite sized chunks and don’t push through the pain.
4. Not listening to professionals
Let’s be honest, most of us are stubborn and think we know best. If a physio tells you to do something, most of the time we won’t listen and will do it anyway but in the majority of cases we will regret it.
So if a physio gives you a rehabilitation programme to follow it’s because it is the best route to full fitness for you and should be followed. It is not a guide but rules to follow and has been given to you as they have your best interests at heart and effectively don’t want to see you again (as in they don’t want you injured again).
5. Not doing strengthening exercises
Once you’ve suffered an injury there is an inherent weakness. If you sprain your ankle then you are far more likely to sprain your ankle again compared to someone who has never suffered a sprain (a bad example as nearly everyone has suffered a sprain but you get the point).
Once you’re fully recovered you should work on strengthening the joint. This can be achieved through a variety of strength and conditioning exercises that can be done at home. There are loads of videos online but Sports Injury Clinic have a complete catalogue on YouTube.
The aim of these types of exercises is to build strength in the joints, so if we take the ankle as an example, the focus is on strengthening the ligaments to minimise the risk of the joint rolling again in the future. This can help to counteract the inherent weakness following the initial injury.
6. Doing something stupid
Let’s face it, we have all done something stupid which has resulted in an injury or the reoccurrence of a historical one. Examples from this office alone include someone falling over in the snow after a few too many sherbets and injuring their knee and (the best one) someone doing a commando roll under a limbo pole resulting in a rotary cuff injury to their shoulder.
It happens, and may be rather amusing to bystanders, but what you have to remember when you’re recovering from an injury is to not push yourself or your luck. If you’re doing something which could compromise your recovery time then you have to ask if it’s really worth it if (and potentially when) it goes wrong.
Aside from some of the things we have listed above it’s also important to note that sometimes things are beyond your control, but if you stay away from the obvious (the things listed above) then you can increase your chances of a speedy and successful recovery.
If you are ever unsure as to the severity of an injury or the best way to treat it then you should speak with a clinical professional.