Hello ACC, I’m broken, fix me!
From my own personal experience of injuries, they are a pain in the ass (literally if you’ve suffered a glute strain…..terrible physio joke, sorry). You’ve just had the best start to the netball season in years. You’ve decided to get your act together and start exercising. You’re training for a half marathon. Life is great. Then BOOM, you’ve got pain and you can’t train. Your favourite SHABAM class is no longer fun because your knee is sore every time you jump. You’re asking yourself, “why me? I thought physical exercise was great for me, it’s not supposed to give me pain?? FML sad face”
Injuries can be both physically and mentally distressing. A recent study has put musculoskeletal disorders as the second highest cause of years lived with disability, above diabetes, cancer and respiratory conditions. The main cause of injury is a change in your lifestyle which is just too much too soon for your tissues and the result is pain. Increases in physical activity needs to be gradual. Changes need to be made over time. Your body almost needs to feel like nothing is changing it’s so gradual. This way, your tissues wouldn’t react to the increased stresses on them and wouldn’t give you pain. Make too much of a change in your training and your tissues are going to let you know all about it.
So, what to do if you happen to end up with an injury?? Don’t panic. Unless you’ve had some serious trauma to your tissues, more than likely you haven’t done any severe damage. Our bodies are super robust, just look at what Paralympians are capable of under such serious physical disabilities. We are being transported around in a sturdy, resilient piece of equipment. The pain you are experiencing is often just tissues warning you of an abrupt change in load. They are letting you know that what you’ve just done is too much for them and they can’t handle it. Once you can understand this you are halfway to recovery.
The first 24-48 hours post injury are always going to be the worse. This is where the RICE principle is best applied. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. After the initially 2 days you should begin to see improvements. This is when it is so important to get active again. Gentle start to move the affected area, start to force a normal walking pattern, gradually reintroduce some activity over the next ten days and you’ll find yourself back to your normal day to day physical condition within 1-2 weeks. During this stage, you need to evaluate where things went wrong. Was the extra 10km on your last run too much? Was the HIT class that you’ve never done before just too much for your knee?? Was that walk up Mt. Kau Kau a bit too much for your hip considering you only normally walk to work for 10 minutes a day?? It’s important not to think “I’ll never do that again!” Your body can tolerate that activity but the change and time frame to that point was just too much. Through a gradual graded exposure to physical activity you’ll bounce back very quickly from your slight set back and having the knowledge of what to do second time around you’ll reach that goal you first set out to achieve. Start back at about 70% of what you know you can handle and within a further 1-2 weeks build back up to where you were before you sustained your injury. From there, remembering everything I’ve just mentioned, gradual re-expose yourself to further loads.
Have confidence in yourself and know that if you put the work in the achievements are limitless. Self-belief is one of the biggest indicators of a full recover from injury. Train smart, plan your change in activity, follow the warm up tips I’ve previously spoken about, and enjoy been fit and healthy.