What can we do to speed up recovery?
Recovery happens faster if you are fairly active on a regular basis – keeping relatively strong and flexible makes a big difference to all aspects of health. Exercise is powerful medicine.
One important question to ask when trying to resolve injury or avoid returning injury is ‘Why did I get injured in the first place?’
As with any questions about health, the answers are generally multifactorial. Musculo-skeletal problems (joints, muscles, ligaments, soft tissue) are often related to biomechanics (how your body moves, including range of joint movement and the impact on the whole system), behaviour (what you ask your body to do), and physiology (rest, stress and happy hormones, quality of fuel). If it’s a short-term issue it may well resolve by its self. If pain lasts for more than two weeks or so, or it’s getting worse, it could be time to seek help.
- Do you exercise or are you sedentary?
- Do you sit a lot?
- Are previous injuries impacting your current biomechanics?
- Are you hyper-mobile?
- Do you do varied exercise?
- What is your nutrition like; do you eat good balanced whole carbs, proteins and fats, together?
- If you exercise do you recover properly afterwards?
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- How are your stress levels; are you getting enough of the happy hormones (endorphins)?
Do you exercise or are you sedentary?
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and have injured yourself, the reason could be fairly simple: deconditioning. The human body is made to move on a daily basis. If you don’t move enough, your muscles lose tone, and joints, ligaments – the whole body – will struggle to function well. Over time that can also have a profound effect on systemic health. Physically, this will leave you injury prone and could mean you are more likely to develop a chronic (long-term) issue. The good news is that exercise is powerful medicine. Simply upping your activity levels in a gradual way, little and often, can create profound changes and decrease your symptoms.
Tip: find something you ENJOY doing. There are many ways to be active, if you hate the gym, don’t go to the gym. Make a list of all the ways you could realistically incorporate more movement into your life, make it diverse and fun, aim to do something each no matter how big or small. If you enjoy it then it becomes something you look forward to, win-win! Click HERE for some ideas.
Do you sit a lot?
Sitting does really interesting things to our body’s biomechanics (how the body moves). REGULAR PROLONGED SITTING is the key issue, and can cause changes that affect how we walk and how our whole body moves and functions!
Prolonged sitting affects how your hips and pelvis can load. The big power-house muscles of the body all cross the hip joints (hamstrings, gluteals and quadriceps). They need movement, whether you feel powerful or not. What this area does impacts the rest of the body, and vice versa.
Muscles work by lengthening and shortening as a result of joint movement – so if a joint range is limited, the muscles will be dysfunctional. When we sit, the hips are static mid way between flexion and extension. If we sit a lot the hips and surrounding soft tissue start to lose their end of range motion, essential in keeping joints healthy. Long term this can mean significant compensation elsewhere, depending on the person and their individual history and anatomy.
There is no substitute for movement.
Tip: if your job means you sit a lot you can counteract this by a couple of simple movements and getting up for a quick walk hourly. Click HERE for quick simple exercises to counteract the effects of sitting.
Are previous injuries impacting your current biomechanics?
If you have an injury that happened for no apparent reason or is not resolving, the problem could be a dysfunctional movement pattern due to a previous injury, causing and/or maintaining the problem.
Our bodies move through chain reaction: every step we take is part of this mechanical cascade throughout the body. Movement in a joint creates and affects movement in the neighbouring joints as well as those further afield.
Foot-to-ankle-to-knee-to-hip-to-back-to-shoulder-to-neck… everything really is connected.
The body is very good at compensating when one part moves too little or too much, for any number of reasons. But it can only compensate to a certain extent. For example, an ankle sprained years before may no longer be painful but a joint within that ankle complex could still be restricted and therefore affecting it’s function. And this means the knee, hip, low back or even further has to deal with that problem as they are all part of the same chain.
Resolving the causative factor allows the painful area to resolve.
Tip: hands on treatment and individualised movement exercises can be powerful in resolving prior injuries causing current pain. Seeking treatment that addresses potential problematic areas away from the site of symptoms could be key to solving the problem, especially if it is recurrent.
Are you hyper-mobile?
If you are hypermobile it means that the ligaments holding joints together are relatively lax – maybe you were a ‘natural’ at things like gymnastics at school, or you find tricky yoga positions quite easy?
Hyper mobility means joints are more mobile and therefore something else potentially has work harder to create joint stability… muscles. This affects people in different ways. For some it causes no problems, for others it has a noticeable impact causing aches and pains that can become chronic and have an impact on daily life.
Most hypermobile people we see report that they feel much better when they do regular exercise. This is because good muscle tone creates better overall stability and regular active movement improves proprioception so the brain and body have better movement control; both of which help to avoid injury.