How to Recover from a Sports Injury

Introduction

Injuries such as ligament tears are not rare or unexpected in the sports world. However, if left untreated, these injuries could lead to a host of problems that can affect a player’s level of performance or worse.

Thankfully, many centers provide excellent services to help athletes maintain peak performance. One such company is White Pine Health.

But when should you go see a specialist for your injury? This guide will provide information about sports injuries and ways to deal with those issues.

Let’s start out by looking at some of the most common sports injuries.

What Are the Most Common Sports Injuries?

When a person is part of any type of sport, he is required to take part in an extensive and intense workout daily. Unfortunately, this is the perfect environment to lead to injury.

A few of the most common injuries in the sports world are:

  • Bursitis
  • Contusions
  • Dislocations
  • Fasciitis
  • Fractures
  • Lacerations and abrasions
  • Muscle cramps and spasm
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Tendinitis

When is the Right Time to Visit a Doctor?

If you have recently experienced a significant injury, you should immediately see a doctor. Untreated injuries and pain may “heal” on their own but might trouble you in the latter years if proper post-injury treatment isn’t utilized. You should visit a doctor or medical expert even in the case of minor damage to be sure and careful.

Some of the red flags of a significant injury are listed below:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe pain accompanied by swelling
  • Moderate to high levels of fever
  • Visible deformities, like unnatural bents in limbs or lumps
  • Instability in the joints
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Unable to support heavyweights

What Are the Best Ways to Recovery from Sports Injury?

There are a variety of methods and techniques that you try to speed up the pace of your recovery process.

The ‘PRICE’ method

Many athletes swear by the efficiency of the five-step pain relief model.

Protection- to prevent further injury, you need to protect the injured area from more stress. For instance, applying bandages.

Rest- any injury requires time to heal naturally. If you don’t give it proper time, then you might as well be prepared to bear the negative consequences.

Ice- you need to apply ice for at least 10-15 minutes to the injured area. It’s considered to be the most effective as well as the cheapest way. It reduces pain and swelling.

Compression- you need to create external pressure on the injured area. Although you need to be mindful about not making the pressure too tight, it further aids in reducing inflammation and swelling.

Elevation- by elevating your injured area, you allow the gravitational force to drain the fluids. For instance, you are putting a pillow under your sprained foot.

Rehabilitation under supervision

Sometimes doctors suggest a player indulge in prehabilitation before a big surgery. This can give your recovery process an edge. It provides the athlete with confidence in recovery.

You can consider going through rehabilitation as a part of your recovery cycle. It will help you to know if you have fully recovered or if there’s still some internal issue.

Massage therapy

Generally, all the muscles are utilized for any sport, yet there are a few muscles that are specific to individual games. It allows your knotted up and stiff muscles to relax and ease up.

Multiple science-backed pieces of research attest to the advantages of massage therapy. These include delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), increased flexibility, better sleep, decreased muscle spasm, better circulation, and pain relief.

Keep yourself hydrated

Water and nutrient-filled drinks are your most potent weapons against any type of injury. They help your body to repair the damaged tissues. Athletes generally forget to hydrate themselves when they are not training.

Moreover, this can break your recovery cycle. If you wish to heal up faster and not miss a valuable career opportunity, then you might have to reduce your salt intake as salt can make your swelling even worse.

Maintain a healthy diet

After an injury, a sports player is required to have a protein-rich food, like meat, to build up all the damaged tissues. Along with that, vitamin C can also benefit your recovery; it includes dark leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.

Certain supplements can be useful for people that are allergic to some of the dietary products. For instance, milk or calcium supplements are right for bone injuries such as fractures.

Begin with light exercises

If you are injured, it doesn’t mean that you’ll stop exercising all together. Hardcore training can put too much stress on your injured muscles, but no workout can be equally bad for you.

For instance, if you have a dislocated shoulder, then you can still go for a walk or jog for some time. It would be better if you ask your medical examiner to suggest a proper workout regime.

Get an optimal amount of rest and sleep

You might have noticed that most of the medications make you feel drowsy and extremely sleepy. The main reason behind this is the fact that when we sleep, the body’s natural repair mechanism gets activated.

Allow the healing process to occur naturally

You need to stop fussing about your injury and don’t keep checking on it every five minutes. In this case, you might make your injury worse by exposing it to further possible infection or damage.

If you don’t see any positive change, then it’ll occupy your mind. You won’t be able to think or do anything else. This will build up more and more frustration, anger, and even self resentment.

How to Emotionally Cope With a Sports Injury?

At times, a player is unable to heal because he has psychologically given up on himself. You can follow a few necessary steps to help you cope mentally. They are as listed below:-

Identify your injury and gather information

You can clarify your doubts by asking your doctor various questions. If you are not satisfied with a doctor’s examination, then you can seek a second or third opinion. It would be better if you make yourself aware of the treatment and recovery process.

Establish realistic goals

You need to be mindful that your injured area will not get healed magically overnight. It would require a lot of patience and hard work to get back to your previous form. You’ll begin to feel motivated once you start to achieve the short term goals that you have set. This will positively affect your overall recovery.

Try to stay positive

Being optimistic can help you go a long way in your life, even if you aren’t injured. Surround yourself with positive thoughts along with positive people. If you imagine yourself being healthy as a horse, then this will send your brain a positive signal. Your mind, in turn, will react accordingly and fasten up the pace of your recovery.

Seek additional assistance

You have to accept the fact that you need help, and there is no need to be ashamed or feel embarrassed in seeking assistance. It’s advisable to stay in touch with your friends, family, teammates, and coaches. If you feel the need, then you can visit a psychologist to help you manage your emotions.

Acknowledge your feelings

It’s impossible for a human being to feel happy and optimistic all the time. So, you must recognize your negative emotions, such as frustration and anger. You can trace back the source of these feelings and work on resolving the underlying issues.

Tips for Injury Prevention and Athletic Performance

There is no better ‘cure’ for an injury than not getting injured in the first place. The following activities are important for an athlete’s performance and for preventing injuries from occurring:

Sleeping

Sleeping has a leading and irreplaceable role because it’s necessary for maintaining the metabolic-caloric balance, thermal balance, rest, and the competence of the immune system.

Within the natural body rhythm, the organism goes through various phases, but what’s especially important is the time of hormone secretion, showing the different daily cycles, and even monthly cycles (menstrual, in female athletes). The growth hormone is secreted shortly after midnight, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH, stress-related) around 6 am, and cortisol an hour earlier.

It’s necessary for an athlete to have a minimum of at least 8 hours of sleep, and the time to go to sleep shouldn’t be after 11 pm.

“The rehabilitation period isn’t cleared until we can match as best as possible the loading of the tissue that will be required for full training and then a 90-minute match,” stresses Collinge.

The Essence of Good Sleep in Numbers

The results of a large number of studies have shown how essential sleep is. Athletes who slept less than 8 hours were as much as 1.7 times more likely to be injured than athletes who slept 8 or more hours.

The results of the research also showed that athletes will have the same probability of injury if they sleep for 5 or 7 hours, but much higher if they sleep 6 hours or less than 5 hours. The likelihood of injury is dramatically reduced if you sleep 8, or better yet 9 hours.

Psychological Preparation

Loss of will, inability to focus, loss of self-control and perseverance, and responsibility towards oneself and teammates are just some of the parameters that significantly affect the achievement of results as the most important segment and feature of a career.

It’s of great importance that an athlete has a psychologist in the team, who together with the doctor performs psychological preparation, analysis of the current form, and preparation for future competitions.

The psychological aspect is one of the 3 most important aspects to athlete’s full preparedness to compete at the high-level – so-called match fitness.

“I consider it a tripod of performance – physical, mental and emotional,” says Dan Garner, who has coached UFC champions Ronda Rousey and Michael Bisping, three Super Bowl winners, and an Olympic gold medalist.

“What happens if one leg of a tripod is knocked out? It collapses. In order to determine whether someone is actually ready, they would need to be mentally, emotionally, and physically ready.”

What Is the Role of a Sports Psychologist?

Psychological preparation of athletes is a long-term, continuous process that’s performed during the entire process of playing sports (both in the training phase and in the competition phase), and is aimed at creating conditions for continuous improvement and development of psychological skills to increase the quality of sports performance.

The task of sports psychologists is to use the knowledge and skills they possess to help athletes achieve their goals and raise the quality of sports performance to a higher level.

Sports psychologists accomplish this task within four basic areas of activity:

    • Scientific research
    • Psychological assessment
    • Psychological preparation
    • Education

Training

Tissue that isn’t heated by improving circulation and elongated by gradual stretching is insufficiently flexible, which is the main reason for the appearance of acute injuries. Since good preparation also improves sports performance, each training session should consist of an introductory part (warm-up and dynamic stretching), the main part (matches, fights, etc.), and the end of training (cooling and static stretching).

    • Introductory part – Its goal is to start the circulation, raise the temperature of the muscles to work temperature, and start the mechanisms for an adequate level of oxygen consumption. When stretching, it’s important that an athlete performs full amplitudes of movement, without sudden jerks.
    • Main part – It’s specific to the given sport.
    • End part – Static stretching at the end of training shouldn’t last longer than 15 minutes. However, this segment of training is often skipped or shortened. The duration of training shouldn’t exceed one and a half hours of varying intensity per day, and there should be days off.

Nutrition

A muscle that isn’t sufficiently circulated and oxygenated can be more easily injured. Also, the amount of energy that an athlete needs to compensate for after each training and competition depends on the type of sport. Therefore, waking time and scheduled training should determine the amount and composition of food, as well as meal times.

Hydration with diet is an important link. That’s why fluid replacement should follow the dynamics of exercise because an athlete shouldn’t feel thirsty either in training or in competition.

The Importance of a Balanced Diet Program for an Athlete

A properly balanced diet can be said to be, in addition to training, one of the most important factors for achieving maximum sports results, as well as preserving the athlete’s health.

    • Impact of a properly balanced diet

Properly balanced diet directly affects the accelerated recovery of an athlete, who due to increased physical activity has depleted energy depots, lost electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, fluids, and accumulatedacidic metabolic products. As an athlete is exposed to positive physical effort, a balanced diet program is necessary on an individual level that will satisfy his/her specific nutritional needs.

    • Negative aspects of improper diet

Most often, athletes meet only the energy needs of the body by entering the so-called empty calories from processed foods, while the body lacks protective substances (vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and phytochemicals) and building materials (proteins and essential fats). The consequences of this diet are the creation of subcutaneous adipose tissue, decreased immunity and more frequent respiratory infections, faster fatigue, decreased strength, and thus the lack of maximum sports results.

Deficiency of essential nutrients caused by a poorly balanced diet can result in various types of sports injuries that can lead to absenteeism from training and important competitions, so the basic form of prevention is a properly balanced diet and supplementation program.

    • The role of the nutritionist

The expert, dietitian-nutritionist will take into account all the factors in order to satisfy the nutritional needs of an athlete on an individual level and thus define a diet program in which the amounts of food are optimized. In addition to the caloric value, a dietitian-nutritionist also monitors the share of nutrients, because only in this way is an athlete sure that he/she will take in all the essential substances.

The advantage of a clearly defined diet program is that an athlete is easier to organize when the program is already determined in advance than that he/she has to design a combination of foods, and the unconscious mistakes of an athlete in nutrition are prevented.

The nutrition of athletes before, during, and after the competition is especially important, because if there was insufficient and incorrect food intake, it will directly affect the sports results. Athletes are often unaware that poor results are largely due to poor nutrition.

    • Supplementation

An athlete’s supplementation is an integral part of the diet program and only properly combined with the diet can affect the preservation of health, speed up recovery, and thus improve the results of an athlete.

Recovery

It’s as important as the training itself because, depending on how rested an athlete was when he/she came to training, the incidence of injury directly increases or decreases.

Some of the recovery methods are – massage, active recovery, regenerative training, cryotherapy, contrast baths, hyperbaric chambers, compression stockings, stretching, sleep, rehydration, supplements, etc. If an athlete doesn’t have a balance between activities and rest, he/she enters the phase of overtraining.

Conclusion

When it comes to athletic performance, injury prevention and recovery is of utmost importance for professional and amateur athletes alike.

All injury prevention and treatment methods aren’t always a one-size-fits-all solution, though. That being said, there are common injury prevention and recovery protocols that can get most athletes back on their feet and into the game quite quickly.

And while it’s important for an athlete to return to training and competition quickly, a key takeaway here is that it must be done safely. Following the general tips in this guide are a great place to start. But if or when in doubt, always consult a specialist.

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