Injuries happen. They’re a normal part of life and you can’t avoid them.
If you’ve ever had an injury, you’ll know how confusing it can be, especially knowing when to return to normality (whatever “normality” is – it is different for everyone!). It can be a frustrating time but it can also give you the opportunity to improve at your sport/hobby/activity.
Common questions can include: Is it “safe” to return after this? Will I make things worse? How quickly can I push things?
So here are a few things to consider if you’re stuck, concerned or questioning your return to those activities that bring you unbridled joy.
This is one THE best tools in your toolbox for recovering from an injury and returning to normality. It is also the easiest one to apply (because try as we might, we cannot influence the persistent marching on of time). So sit back, relax and let the healing commence.
Now obviously this depends on a myriad of factors. But generally speaking your incredible body will be doing its thing and returning to normality without any additional input.
As Physiotherapists, we’re on hand should you need any extra advice or assistance during this time.
Try not to compare yourself and your recovery to others. There are timeframes for healing times, each different depending on the type of tissue. However, as mentioned above, many other factors (age, smoker vs non-smoker, diabetes etc) will alter these timeframes, so it’s best to only use them as a rough guide and avoid comparison with others.
Sleep aids recovery. A recent study conducted an interesting experiment looking at the link between cuts/wound healing, sleep (2 groups were deprived and 1 had their normal amount of sleep) and nutrition. Those individuals who slept more had a faster rate of healing.
So try to do everything you can to get the best sleep you can. There are a lot of tips on the internet, below is an example of one from the NHS:
Nutrition is extremely important when it comes to recovery from injury and return to normality. This comes down to advice such as making sure you’re eating sufficient protein to get the amino acids for damaged tissue repair (amino acids are the building blocks of muscle, bone, connective tissue etc) to staying hydrated to maintain joint lubrication and transportation of nutrients.
As we’re not nutritionists here, let us leave a link below to a fantastic and extremely clever Physio who also happens to have a masters in Nutrition too. His Instagram has plenty of information for all things Physio and Nutrition. https://www.physiutrition.com.
An injury can be a good opportunity to focus on your mental drills and skills to prepare you for your return, which also includes mental imagery. There is a lot of evidence demonstrating the benefit to motor/mental imagery in improving sporting performance.
I read a quote from another amazing Physio recently that said “focus on how you feel, not what your watch or phone tells you”. Using an app for example can be a rough guide with the steps to returning to normality but don’t rely on this solely, as it won’t be able to treat you as a unique individual.
Often sharing your experience with a therapist can help you work through the mental challenges that come from injury, including the fear and anxiety about returning to sport.
No injury is an exact replica of another. Take each day as an opportunity to make a small step forward. Remember, most injuries are temporary so you will recover and return to doing what you love.
Training and rest
This is possibly the most considered part of recovery from injury and returning to normality.
How quickly can you start to run, jump and manage hopping? Are you training all elements for full recovery such as strength, mobility, proprioception? Are you approaching your recovery taking into account the amazing way in which your body moves in different planes?
How you feel doesn’t always dictate how ready you are to return to activity/sport.
A Physiotherapist can help you with this and guide you, taking into account everything mentioned above. Your therapist will monitor pain, strength, swelling and range of motion when guiding you with your return to normality.
It is important to take into consideration any previous injuries, as they will most likely increase the probability of re-injury. So take extra time and work with a Physio until you’re both sure it is the right time to return to activity.
If you’re struggling to return to normality after an injury, get in touch with us for a chat about how we can help you with that.