Dedicated athletes are used to pushing their bodies to the limit, stretching their endurance, strength, and technique. But injuries can really challenge an athlete’s patience. The first question that we often hear from injured athletes is when can I train, play, run, lift, etc. again? The mental pain that can be caused by an injury and the loss of your sport can feel more devastating than the injury itself. It’s important that the steps you take to recover from a sports injury address both your physical and mental health. Try some of the following sports injury recovery tips from your friends at CORESHORTS™ and get on your way to healing!
First Steps to Sports Injury Recovery
The first steps in recovery after evaluating a sports injury are often to use cold therapy and compression for initial treatment. Use the mnemonic “PRICE,” which stands for protect, rest, ice, compression, and elevation, to help reduce the swelling and pain accompanied with a soft tissue injury. The objective of using PRICE is to reduce the negative effects of inflammation (even though inflammation is one of the first steps in healing) and kickstart the healing process as soon as possible after an injury occurs.
Pro Tip: Compression helps control swelling in the area of an injury. The variable compression ratings produced by our three versions of CORESHORTS™ can help protect and support the recovery of low back, groin, hip, and pelvic injuries.
Understand Your Injury + Allow Healing
If your injury is minor, such as a grade 1 sprain or strain, it will take two to four weeks away from competitive sport to allow time for rehabilitation, and recovery to promote healing. If needed, it may be of value to support the injured area with a splint, brace, or compression apparatus as recommended by the treating therapist. Continuing to use your injured body part under the guidance of a therapist will help prevent the injury from becoming a chronic problem.
Keep in mind that a lack of improvement or worsening pain warrants a trip to your sports therapist. Pain should never be ignored, and some injuries might require imaging and further evaluation by a Sports Medicine Physician. Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice closely. Don’t cut corners, and work as hard in your rehab as you usually do in your training regimen.
As the pain subsides and your injury heals, small movements of the joints and injured area can help restore your range of motion.
A key component to recovery is the use of a graduated resistance program that will help strengthen your muscles. Resistance training also needs to be supported with exercises to improve balance, reflex control, and endurance in both the injured tissues and all those surrounding them. This kind of training will prepare your body to get back to your sport!
Be careful though, do not start to stretch or use an injured body part without supervision from a physiotherapist, sports therapist, or doctor. Working the injured area prematurely can cause further injury and a longer recovery. That being said, light stretching can help your muscles stay loose while you heal. Just don’t overdo it or push your muscles too far if stretching causes pain to your injury.
Eat a Healthy Diet + Hydrate
Just as weightlifters eat ample protein on rest days to help their muscles recover, you should add more lean protein to your diet when you are in recovery from a sports injury. Adjusting your diet can help your body build more tissue and heal faster.
Protein-rich foods like meat and fish help enhance your body’s muscle-building process. Leafy dark greens and citrus fruits can help boost vitamin C, which in turn produces collagen that rebuilds tissues. Eating foods rich in Omega -3 fats, such as fish, walnuts, chia seeds, spinach, and flax, can help limit inflammation and speed up recovery. There are also many supplements and plant-based options that will also work to enhance recovery.
It’s easier to forget to adequately hydrate when you aren’t training or exercising regularly due to an injury. While you might not be participating in strenuous exercise and sweating a lot, your body is still hard at work healing and building new tissue to repair what was injured. Good hydration also helps to reduce muscle soreness and to flush toxins out of your body.
Pro Tip: Drink water and natural fruit juice instead of sports drinks with added salt and electrolytes, especially if your injury is still swelling. Too much salt in your diet can cause you to retain water and increase swelling.
Stay Active, If Possible
Going from 100 percent to nothing can be quite a challenge, especially for serious athletes that are used to playing their sports nearly every day. The good news is that you don't have to completely give up physical activity because you are injured. While your injured body part does need time to heal, it is actually beneficial to add some light cardio throughout the week to your recovery plan, injury permitting.
Getting your blood pumping boosts your immune system and reduces inflammation, two very important aspects of recovery. Try to incorporate various bouts of light exercise into your day while recovering. Exercises to consider could include swimming, light floor exercises, and simple yoga or stretching, depending on where your injury is and its severity.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery from injury. Getting at least 7 to 9 hours of good sleep helps conserve your body’s energy for healing. As you sleep, more blood flows to your muscles, bringing oxygen and other nutrients that assist in repair. Sleep also produces HGH which helps build new tissue at a fast rate.
The key here is to not just lounge around the house and rest, it's to actually sleep! Nap in the afternoon, and make sure that your house is cool at night to allow for deep restful sleep. The more time you spend sleeping, the more time your body has to heal!
A sports injury can be devastating, as it sidelines us from the things that we love to do. Believe it or not, your emotions play an important role in your healing process. Allow yourself to be sad, don't hide your feelings. This isn’t a time to be “macho” or “strong.” Don’t spend too much time on what “could have been.” Yes, a sports injury can disrupt plans, but your reality after injury is to heal so you can get back out there.
Regardless of whether you have a long road of recovery ahead of you or just a few weeks, a good attitude can help speed up your recovery. Now is the time to set small attainable goals for yourself as you recover. These goals can be as simple as one additional rep with a resistance band or stretching your muscles a little bit farther each day.
Remember that your injury is temporary. Try to stay positive, no matter what! Allow yourself to heal properly and be patient with the healing process.
Prevention is Key
We know how hard it is to be injured. No athlete likes to be sitting at home or watching from the sidelines. Fortunately, many types of sports injuries can be reduced or avoided. Make sure to warm-up before each workout. Include cardio, active stretching, and sport-specific preparation into your warm-up routine to adequately get your body ready for strenuous activity or exercise.
Our recovery tips, along with the advice of your therapist or doctor, should have you back on the field, out running, lifting, or playing whatever sport it is that you love to do with a higher degree of safety and within an optimal recovery time.
If you recently suffered a low back, groin, pelvic, or hip injury, our patented CORESHORTS™ utilizes a series of angled elastics (Core Activation System) to help you recover from injury and stabilize your low back, pelvis, and hips as you return to strenuous exercise and full function. Check out our line of CORESHORTS™ today!