As an athlete, the fear of developing an injury is always present. In the event an injury is sustained, this fear compounds into an apprehension about recovery time and when performance will be able to be maintained at the same level. However, there are several simple steps you can take to facilitate injury recovery and to bounce back from an injury as quickly as possible. Below is a guide of pro tips for injury recovery designed to get you back in the game quickly and performing at peak efficiency sooner.
10 Tips to Accelerate Injury Recovery
- Ice is one of the first tactics you should utilize when attempting to heal an injury and recover quickly. By icing a muscle strain or ache quickly, the ice can reduce the swelling of the muscle itself, as well as help to soothe the pain. The most effective way to ice an injury is to place an ice pack, or ice packs, over the area of the injury multiple times throughout the day for fifteen minutes each time. If you don’t have an ice pack handy, you can also wrap ice cubes in a towel (or put them in a Ziploc bag inside of a towel), and this should do the trick. Another option is to place a bag of frozen peas over the area of injury, as the peas are small enough that they will be able to form around the area of injury.
- Elevation is another vital strategy to implement when recovering from an injury. By elevating the pulled muscle above the heart, you will encourage your body to divert any fluid building up around the injury away from the damaged tissue to where it can be dispersed throughout the body. By doing this, you will help reduce the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the injury, which will speed the recovery time and reduce the pain. The easiest way to elevate an injury is to prop the injured area on a pillow and make sure that it is resting above the level of your heart.
- Anti-inflammatory medication will also be useful in recovering from an injury quickly. There are many types of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications available that will aid in pain and inflammation reduction. However, always be sure to take the recommended dose on the bottle as exceeding this amount can potentially damage your liver over the time. If the pain continues to be noticeable despite the anti-inflammatory medication, it may be necessary to visit a physician to get a prescription strength dose of anti-inflammatory medication to take while recovering.
- Heat is a tried and true method for speeding up muscle recovery as applying heat to an injured area aids in reducing muscle stiffness. Heating the injured area will also facilitate being able to do light, gentle stretching to begin regaining mobility in the injured area.
- Gentle stretching should immediately follow the application of the heat, as this is when the injured area will be most flexible. Gentle stretching of an injury will allow you to regain mobility, strength, and flexibility. In addition to these benefits, mild stretching will also allow you to rebuild strength in the injured area prior to using it again, which will help prevent future injuries.
- Massaging a pulled muscle has been shown to increase recovery time as it stimulates blood circulation to the injured area, which will speed up the recovery time of the tissue and muscle. A gentle massage will also reduce the tension in the muscle and lessen swelling.
- Taking a bath and soaking in the bathtub can help speed up injury recovery by heating the muscle up, which reduces the pain and swelling. Many athletes also add Epsom Salts to their bath water to increase muscle functionality and ease stiffness in the injured tissue.
- When you begin to use the injured muscle again, be sure to warm up the muscle properly to prevent a future injury. The general rule of thumb is to warm up for at least ten minutes prior to engaging in rigorous physical activity to prevent pain after the exercise is complete, and to reduce any strain on the muscle.
- Before engaging in physical activity, it is vital that you strengthen the injured muscles again and the muscles surrounding the injury. By doing this, you will be less likely to reinjure the muscle.
The most important tactic to speed up injury recovery is to rest and allow your body to heal the injured area. The reason sleep is extremely beneficial to healing an injury is because when you are asleep, your body is using less energy, which allows that energy to be diverted to help restore muscles and bones through an increase in growth hormone production and an increase in blood flow to the injured area. However, sleeping with an injury can sometimes be uncomfortable, and it can be difficult to achieve true restful sleep. To solve this problem, Essentia developed the ProCor mattress, which is a custom sleep system that is unique to each athlete’s individual profile. Essentia knows that not all athletes are built the same, but they all need their rest to perform at their peak. The ProCor mattress provides personalized posture support that allows the body to heal and recalibrate, helping you to recover faster and get back in the game.