As an athlete, you’re super focused on staying healthy. You want peak performance out of your body as much as possible. Professional athletes spend a lot of money to dial in on the perfect nutrition, exercise, and rest regime to stay in top form. Inevitably, though, injuries happen that can throw a wrench into training and competition. Knowing it’s impossible to avoid injury means fast and effective recovery is a priority. Shortening downtime and returning to full health as quickly as possible has been the subject of a lot of research and investment. Thankfully, that research hasn’t only benefited professional athletes. It trickles down into all of us. There are things we can do to limit the impact of injury and quicken recovery. Here are some things you can do to bounce back soon after an injury.
The best thing you can do after an injury is to RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Here’s a quick breakdown.
Rest – The mistake a lot of people make is not giving an injury the proper recovery time. We know you want to get back to running or even back to work as soon as possible. However, re-engaging an injured area could worsen your injury and lengthen your recovery time. Rest until you feel good to go or better yet are cleared by a doctor if it’s a more serious injury.
Ice – Icing an injury helps manage inflammation. It’s a good idea to ice your injury for about twenty minutes four to eight times each day, depending on the severity of the injury. Icing helps reduce swelling, pain, and any bleeding.
Compress – Compression needs to happen relatively soon after an injury to prevent excessive swelling. For example, if you sprain your ankle, putting a wrap around it to control swelling could significantly speed up your recovery time.
Elevate – Keeping your injury elevated also helps control swelling. Whether that means resting your foot on some pillows or keeping your arm in a sling, it will reduce the time you’re out.
Get Medical Advice
Unless your injury is minor, you can benefit from seeking medical advice on the best route to recovery. Even if it’s minor now, how long it’s been going on should be a factor in whether you seek medical assistance. For instance, office workers on the computer all day who experience pain in their wrist and elbow could develop an injury that stops them from working for months at a time. It’s better to err on the side of caution and see a doctor.
A medical office will help you create a plan that gets you back in good shape after an injury. They’ll recommend a psychical therapy regime, medications, or supplements that will help.
Using Nutrition to Help Recovery
Though it may not be the first thing that comes to mind, nutrition and the use of supplements can increase your overall health and help your body fit inflammation to help with recovery. Simple things like drinking more water will make a huge difference. Increasing your vitamin intake will also benefit recovery. Do your best to take more vitamin A, B, C, and D. Take calcium supplements for bone recovery and things like iron, magnesium, and zinc will all play a role in your injury treatment.
Much scientific research is being done with peptides these days. Some peptides, such as TB500 have been shown to help reduce inflammation and trigger an increase in the immune response. TB-500 is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring peptide in human cells. It’s popular because of its effects on cell migration, wound healing, and how it interacts with actin protein. If you’re interested in learning more about the research being done to help control inflammation and increase extracellular matrix production to get moving again, it’s worth taking a look at these studies and future medical possibilities.
You should also do what you can to increase protein intake. Protein is fuel for your muscles, which play a critical role in injury stability and recovery. Whether you’ve injured your muscle directly, or you need those muscles supporting a hurt bone or ligament, the more protein you get, the better.
We’ve already mentioned rest, but when you’re ready to test the injury again after icing, paying attention to your overall health, and other strategies, you need to ease back into normal movement levels. Too much stress on a freshly recovered injury can send you right back where you started, so take things one step at a time. Avoid any aggressive movements or exerting too much stress on your injury. Additionally, even if other parts of your body feel good, you could injure them because you’re overcompensating for your injury. A lot of people who, for example, get knee surgery end up injuring their other knee because they run or jump unevenly because they don’t yet have full confidence in their injured limb.
Get More Sleep
Sleep should be a separate category from the “rest” we mentioned above. Rest generally refers to not moving or using the injured body part. Sleep, on the other hand, or lack of sleep rather, is what often leads to injury in the first place. Sleep is vital to all aspects of a person’s health. When injured, sleep’s role in recovery can’t be overstated. Sleeping allows your body to focus on rehabilitating areas of your body that need attention. Instead of using energy to run your other systems at full-speed, sleep enables your body to center its attention where it needs it most. At a minimum, you should be getting eight hours of sleep each night when you’re recovering from an injury.
If you want to get back to normal quickly, follow these steps for the best results. Each injury’s recovery will look a bit different based on its severity and recommended treatment. These, however, are basic things every person can do to get back on their feet as soon as possible. They’re also great recommendations on what you should be doing even when you’re not injured to stay in the best health and avoid serious injury.