These Are The 6 Best Recovery Strategies Top Athletes Use To Return to Their Workouts and Sport Faster and Without Re-injury
Exercise, recreational activities and sports are important part of almost everyone’s lives. Injuries can be extremely frustrating and discouraging when they cause you to miss time away from what you love, achieving goals you have set or the active lifestyle and freedoms you desire.
Many times athletes, weekend warriors and active adults feel helpless and hopeless by not knowing what is the best way to get back to their activities and sports as quickly as possible. Equally fearful is the RISK of returning to soon and too intensely which may lead to worse and irreversible injury and ultimately compromising performance goals.
By educating yourself on these steps, you can be assured you are doing everything possible to get back to exercise and the competition soon and more importantly SAFELY!
1. Recognize there is a Problem & Limitation
Athletes are determined, focused and tough but sometimes too tough and endure the pain for too long, causing serious damage and prolonging the recovery process. When you are seriously driven and passionate about exercise, your goals, and your sport, sometimes it is hard to slow down and recognize that your body is not functioning right.
Often it is all too easy to think the ache and pain will just “go away” if ignored. Unfortunately, ignoring the early warning signs can make problems worse, lead to a more serious injury and make your recovery time longer in the future.
PAIN is like your body’s check engine light. It serves as an alarm to indicate that something needs to be looked at and examined if something is wrong. It can be an indication of a minor problem, major problem or the potential for a serious or IRREVERSIBLE problem. Typically the longer you wait to address it the more costly the issue becomes.
It is difficult to know how serious the issue is if you keep pushing and playing through the pain. As an athlete your body is like a sports car, the more you use it and at higher levels, frequencies and duration- you need to balance the wear and demand you are putting on it. The consequence of not paying attention to the early warning signs of pain can be devastating and life altering, unfortunately I have observed it all to often.
Exercising or playing through the pain can cause your body to compensate and either overuse or underuse other parts of your body. This puts you at an increased RISK for suffering another injury and making the current one worse.
2. Knowing the difference: Muscle Soreness VS. Pain
It is critical and beneficial to your health to be able to understand the difference between muscle soreness and pain.
A muscle gets sore and achy from doing a healthy exercise with the correct form and movement. Soreness improves and dissipates with more activity and stretching. Muscle pain is typically the result of an injury and is usually felt during or after the exercise or sport activity. This type of pain is typically described as a sharp, deep ache or extreme tightness.
The pain typically gets worse if you continue to do the activity and gets better when avoiding certain activities or movements. If you find yourself avoiding your exercise, sports, or not being able to fully participate, then you likely have a muscle or joint issues, instead of just muscle soreness.
3. Seek A Sport Specialist ASAP
It is critical that once your realize there is a likely injury and need help, you need to take action immediately and see a Sports Specialist, like our Movement Specialist. They have extensive knowledge and success working with all ages, athletic abilities, levels and sports, ranging from youths, adults, weekend warriors, professional athletes and Olympians.
The last thing you want to do is waste your time and resources with ineffective treatments that ultimately delay from getting you back 100% and prevent future injury or time off.
When trying to recover from sports injuries the worst thing to do is to adopt a “wait and see” approach. Unfortunately, I have seen countless athletes fall into this trap driven by their own ambitions, coaches, or the pressures of competition dates and performance deadlines. It always leads to having to take more “time off”, recovering than they would have IF they had sought the right professional guidance after the injury occurred.
It breaks my heart to see athletes or active adults that love participating in training, group exercise or their favorite sport sidelined for months when it could have only been days or weeks IF they had sought specialist help earlier.
4. Do Not “Just Rest”
Even if one part of your body is injured, the other 95% of your body is still healthy and capable of training. Shutting down completely when injured is the BIGGEST MISTAKE an athlete and active individual can make.
The rest of your body will get de-conditioned, weak, tight, and depression can set in because you are not releasing through exercise the “feel good” endorphins you were previously.
The goal for any injured athlete should be to RETURN to your activity and sport BETTER than before the injury. This can be accomplished by working with a Movement Specialist who can assess what’s really your inefficiencies of performance and physiology that may make you prone to serious or frequent injuries.
It is critical to safely train your body, refine and perfect your technique even when you have an injury!
5. Accountability: Do Your Homework (Program)
It is IMPORTANT to diligently do the program your Movement Specialist has identified specifically for you when you are not working 1-on-1 with your Movement Specialist. You should be instructed and provided with self-treatment options including; stretching and strengthening corrective exercise, self-massage, and ways to promote recovery and healing.
The foundation for achieving and maintaining healthy fitness and athletic performance is by performing:
- FOCUSED Stretching
- FOCUSED Strengthening
- FOCUSED Self soft-tissue(muscle) massage
The frequency and duration that you perform such advised “foundational exercises” will be correlated to the intensity, frequency and duration you spend active or inactive. Think of these foundational exercises as daily maintenance and preventative measures like brushing your teeth or keeping your car fuelled and serviced.
Your participation will greatly enhance and accelerate your results and speed up recovery. This allows you to get back to exercising and your sport as QUICKLY and SAFELY as possible.
6. Ease Back Into Exercise & Your Sport
This can be the hardest part- do NOT rush back in at 100% even if things “feel fine”. You have to remember and respect the healing processes that are happening inside your body that you may not be able to detect. It is important to work with your medical team, coaches and trainers to establish and follow through with a plan and program for ramping back up your activity level and returning to your sport better than before.
It is an unavoidable truth that IF you return unprepared and quickly your RISK for re-injury, sustaining another injury elsewhere in your body and more SEVERELY significantly increases.
I can not stress the importance of preventing injury by committing to “listen” to your body and working with a Movement Specialist. I have predicted far too many serious injuries involving; the tearing of labrums, ACLs, rotator cuffs, ligaments and muscles- ALL which could have been completely AVOIDED.
The aftermath results in months to years of therapy, frustration and financial consequences.
So, PLEASE do not let this be YOU, your quality of LIFE is WORTH too much!
Dehydration can impact athletic performance and is one of the biggest mistakes that could be potentially contributing to your problem. Dehydration can impact tissue repair, remodeling and can cause muscle cramps, aches, pain, fatigue, and dizziness. Try to drink water throughout the day.
Avoid excess caffeine, including coffee, tea, alcohol, and energy drinks as these will dehydrate your body even more.
Adequate Sleep For Optimal Recovery
Sleep is critical for physical and mental recovery. It is during sleep that our body repairs itself, grows and processes all that we have learned and practiced during the day. Sufficient sleep allows this recovery process to occur. When you do NOT get a full night’s rest, then your body does not have time to recover.
It is commonly when we are sleep deprived that we are at a greater RISK for injury.
Take Home Message
Are you finding yourself confused or afraid about HOW to handle your sports injury? You are NOT alone.
Most people experience sports injuries or exercise limitations during their lifetime. The problem is that most of them allow the problem to get worse before looking for a solution. We hope this information has given you the information you need to make a decision about what to do next for your exercise or sports injury and take action.
If you are currently dealing with a sports injury, whether it is new or something nagging, we are more than happy to provide you with a FREE phone consultation. No problem or issue is too little or too big, to acute or chronic.
Do NOT let fixable problems become more debilitating and irreversible, or non surgical problems become surgical problems and compromise your ideal activity performance.
Ultimately, there is so much we can do to help get you back to exercise and your sport. We at Perseverance Movement Specialists & Pilates are passionate about helping athletes and active adults get back to exercising and performing their sport at optimal levels and avoid future injuries.
In the weeks ahead, I’ll be sending you even more tips and advice on how to restore your active lifestyle and share with you more health and fitness tips that can make a positive difference in your ability to enjoy your life richly.
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