Injuries are a reality of life. Whether you’re a 25-year-old bodybuilder in the best shape of your life, or a frail 85-year-old who has spent the last year in and out of the hospital, a serious injury could always be right around the corner.
Even though it’s not always possible to prevent an injury from happening, there are steps you can take towards speeding up the recovery process and returning to normal life.
Let’s outline a few of these tips to give you a better idea of how to proceed.
1. Visit a Doctor ASAP
When your car gets sideswiped or the paint peels off your doors, you take it to a body shop. When your dishwasher makes weird sounds and spews water everywhere, you call a plumber. Why, then, would you avoid seeing a doctor when you become injured?
“Visit a doctor as soon as possible after being injured in an accident, if you have not already received emergency medical care,” Demas Law Group advises. “Some serious injuries cause symptoms on a delayed basis. Obtaining medical care also establishes a record of your injuries for a claim.”
2. Use Your Diet to Control Inflammation
If you’re experiencing a soft tissue injury, reducing inflammation is one of your primary objectives in pursuit of recovery.
“When your body is threatened, it sends out an inflammatory response to go fight off the invader,” fitness trainer Rachael Schultz explains. “A small amount of this is good—it’s what heals cuts and helps repair damage, including that to muscle fibers. But when your body is in a prolonged state of inflammation—from, say, a major injury or a super inflammatory diet—your immune system is chronically in high gear, which over time can not only inhibit progress on healing, but can actually lead to more swelling and damage.”
The best way to reduce inflammation is to control it with your diet. Cut out as many processed foods as possible and load up on fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats like avocado and flax seeds.
3. Gradually Build Up Fitness
Mitch Stubbs used to be an extremely active outdoorsman – paragliding, rock climbing, and backpacking multiple times per week. But that all changed one day when a gust of wind made his paraglider fall more than 100 feet to the ground below. He broke eleven bones, including his seventh cervical vertebra and part of his right hip. With months of recovery ahead of him, he didn’t sit around and sulk. Instead, he decided to tackle his recovery in a smart and efficient manner.
Stubbs’ biggest piece of advice is to gradually build back fitness (rather than trying to immediately return to the physical state you were once in). Taking the advice of your medical team and physical therapist, slowly incorporate new exercises until you’re comfortable enough to try something slightly more challenging.
4. Get Lots of Sleep
During your waking hours, your body releases hormones to address the needs of the present situation. As the hours tick away, your energy becomes depleted, and these hormones become imbalanced. When you’re injured, this inhibits your body’s ability to recover.
The more sleep you get, the better your body is able to bring these hormones back into balance. In terms of injury recovery, you especially need proper levels of HGH, cortisol, ghrelin, and leptin.
5. Keep Your Attitude in Check
“The mental aspect of recovery is just as important as the physical aspect, but it’s often overlooked,” Stubbs says.
Even when you’re incapacitated and unable to perform the physical activities that you want to, it’s important to maintain a positive frame of mind and be thankful. The smallest amount of gratitude will keep you going in the toughest of spots.
Take Your Recovery Seriously
While it’s true that time is one of the biggest factors in healing an injury, you can’t lay in bed all day and assume that things will get figured out. It’s important that you take your recovery seriously and do everything within your power to get better.
A proactive approach will almost always produce better results than a reactive stance.