Active people get injured. Pain and injury are a normal part of life. No way around it. In fact, when phenoms like Cal Ripken or Jerry Rice show up and play 16+ years in professional sports injury free; it’s huge news! It’s due to their determined work-out ethic, not because they weren’t hurting. They learned how to cope with their injuries and work through them intelligently. These guys are tuned into their bodies and demand exceptional outcomes. They approach recovery from injury in the same controlled manner they approach their normal workouts.
The time tested, doctor approved method for treating minor sports injuries is by following the R.I.C.E. principle — Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rest allows your body time to heal. The other three components help cut
inflammation, which is counterproductive to the healing. Many doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, Motrin, naproxen sodium, etc.). Inflammation is most often the cause of most of your pain. Get rid of inflammation and you will lessen your pain.
Failure to abide by these principles will result in prolonged recovery time. Once the swelling and inflammation have subsided (typically 1-3 days), start applying moist heat to the area to increase blood flow. Once you have entered the rehab or active phase, you want to apply heat before your activity, then ice it right after. Unless you’re a professional athlete, there is no good reason to rush things.
For active people, one of the most difficult things to learn is what “pain” is acceptable. Soreness and exhaustion are unavoidable for an individual determined to excel. When that soreness or exhaustion manifests itself in sharp pain or significant weakness, you need to stop and treat the injury.
You should feel energized and ready to kick butt 30 minutes after a strenuous work-out. Anything other than that is probably the result of an injury or over-training. When you’re just starting out, err on the side of conservatism and seek professional advice when in doubt. Professional, as in a doctor, nurse, or certified trainer. Don’t rely on your buddy two lockers down who tells you, “dude, I had the exact same thing and this is what I did.” Even well-meaning coaches are often suspect as they are usually focused on the team and not its individuals. Learn to lookout for yourself first, otherwise you will be of no use to anyone.
choosing a doctor
My advice is simple; Look towards wealthy communities. Rich people can afford, and demand the best service. The best doctors live and work close to the people that can afford them, because they’re wealthy too. Your health insurance provider is the great equalizer. You should be able to convince your health insurance company to venture out of your immediate network to seek treatment. If you have health insurance, there is no difference in cost to you.
a physical therapist
When you incur an injury, after the initial treatment from the doctor, the protocol is usually to prescribe a round of physical therapy. Do your homework and choose a facility that offers physical therapy as an adjunct to sports training. They are attuned to bodies in motion and likely will torture you back to excellence. Don’t be fooled by a laboratory-like facility with machines beeping and hissing all over the place. Look for a place that has a big space devoted to people sweating and swearing under their breath. On the side you’ll see expertly applied massage, ultrasound, and electro-musculo-stimulation. You’ll also see therapist pushing their clients beyond their mental barriers.
Don’t leave it to the therapist to make you better. Three sessions per week isn’t going to miraculously cure you from spinal disc surgery. Ask questions, learn, and find out what you can do on your own – and do it! It sucks, but do it. 5 weeks post-surgery for a L5/S1 discectomy and I was whitewater rafting. I might have pushed the envelope on that one, but I haven’t looked back since. I was smart about it.
exercise induced nausea
Exercise induced nausea and light-headiness is common when you work out hard. It happens because your body has reached its physical limit of being able to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and it’s stealing it from your brain. All your body’s resources divert to the muscles. Be aware that this normal, and also be aware it’s your upper limit. That limit will grow just as sure as your muscles will.
Allow or adjust rest time between sets for your body to rebound. If you ignore the signals, your body will force you to stop by passing out. It’s usually gradual and not a dramatic event, but it can be.
supports and braces
Use supports and braces to help you through an injury. Don’t use them to “get back in the game”. Use them as the medical devices their intended to be. Sometimes it’s unavoidable that you have to wear them all the time. That’s often because you rushed past injury rehab and jumped back into moderate intensity too quick. . Unless you’re making a living at your activity, there is no good reason to subject yourself to further injury that will impact the rest of your life.
Look at the pros, they sideline their star athletes until they’ve rehabbed. The grunts that they can replace easily; get taped up and sent back into the game. It’s just good business for them. Millions of dollars are on the line.
You have more at stake; the rest of your life. Think about that for a second. Pushing through injury can have detrimental effects for the rest of your life.