Injuries are inevitable in sports. If somehow you’ve managed to play and perform in sports injury free, then I envy you. But the vast majority of us, especially the serious athletes out there, injuries can be debilitating experiences. They not only weaken us physically but can even weaken us mentally as well. The confidence we once had out there in front of the crowd diminishes reducing the chances of replicating the successful performances we had in the past. But we have to move on past injuries. You have to move on. So, for those who are conflicted on how they can possibly bear waiting for their injury to heal, here are 8 ways to deal with injuries.
Accept Injuries Are Part Of Sport And Life
The first thing you should do to help prepare you to deal with injuries is to accept that they are a part of sport and life. You get hurt and injured doing tasks within your daily life, but you learn to deal with the cut on your finger, the bruise on your knee or the fractured foot.
The difference between injuries in a sporting context and within daily tasks is that when you exercise and compete in sports you should acknowledge you are putting yourself at a higher risk of injury although conversely exercise can also protect you from other injuries by making your body stronger.
Injuries are much more likely to happen in sports when performing at maximal intensities. Make sure you are ready to deal with injuries in sport no matter how difficult it is for you. In most cases, it is far better to skip a week of training (you won’t lose much fitness) than to persist with training for 3 or 4 more days, injure yourself more severely and have to take 4 weeks off as a result. An example of such an injury could be a strained muscle caused by overusing a muscle.
8 Ways To Deal With Injuries
#1 – Eat More Protein
Protein is the most important nutrient when it comes to muscle growth and recovery. When you’re injured maintaining a high intake of protein or eating more than normal can help to speed up the recovery process by providing your body with the nutrient it needs in excess amounts (this ensures you have enough protein) to repair the damage that has been done. This could be a strain, sprain or any type of injury.
#2 – Eat Less Sugar
Sugar feels good to eat, and especially if you are feeling depressed about an injury it can be easy to turn to sugar to make you feel happy (albeit only for a couple of minutes) again. However, consuming lots of sugar can cause an inflammatory response within your body and send insulin skyrocketing. This can send your hormones out of control which may slow the recovery process, so try to keep sugar levels lower whilst you’re injured and keep those cravings in check.
#3 – Hydrate
Water is required for optimum cellular function. This includes the process of synthesising new cellular compounds, maintaining healthy cell membranes and efficient cell division. Water helps to supply oxygen and nutrients to your cells, removes toxins within the body and aids proper digestion and the absorption of nutrients, all of which can help to facilitate a quicker return from injury.
#4 – Eat Nutrient Dense Meals
It’s important to eat nutrient dense meals when you’re injured as these meals will help to provide your body with the macronutrients and micronutrients your body needs to repair and recover swiftly. Make sure to eat a high amount of protein, an ample amount of fats and a good serving of carbohydrates to keep your body nourished. Where possible try to include variety within your meals and lots of vegetables so your body is obtaining a wide range of nutrients.
#5 – Rest Easy
When injured it is so easy to fall into the trap of wanting to exercise in some form or another just to try and maintain fitness. Sometimes it’s possible, sometimes it’s not. Where it’s not or where you are in doubt, I say, rest easy. Give your body some rest and allow it to recover – maybe that injury is a sign your body needs the rest, not only to recover but to allow other components of your fitness to adapt and improve during this period of forced rest.
#6 – Relax Mentally
I know that when you’re injured it may become a very stressful time in your life. However, being stressed can slow down the time it takes for an injury to heal. Try to think positive and relax mentally. Your body recovers best when you are in a parasympathetic (relaxed) state. If you’re stressed, your body inherently is in a sympathetic (fight or flight) state where it is searching and cautious of any danger. Put your mind at ease and maybe now is a good time to Netflix and chill.
#7 – Do Exercise Which Doesn’t Cause Pain
If you absolutely can’t bear the thought of not exercising for the period of time you are injured then try and find an exercise which doesn’t cause you pain. If you can find an exercise, great! I’d suggest trying to continue incorporating a variety of exercises you can do pain-free to try and maintain some level of fitness whilst you are injured. Otherwise, you’d be better off resting completely.
#8 – Find Another Outlet For Your Time
The few times I found myself injured, I tried to find something else to do in my spare time. Distract yourself by pursuing an activity you’ve been interested in or simply wanted to invest more time into (but you haven’t had time). This could be cooking, novel writing or maybe volunteering at your local scout group. As a bonus, you’re more likely to feel mentally relaxed as you’ll be spending the time you would’ve spent training or exercising on other healthy pursuits.
Top Tip – Prevention
In certain sports such as football, rugby and American football there is a high risk of injury. In these cases, the best thing to do is not actually to treat an injury (that’s the second best thing) but to prevent an injury by strengthening the muscles and parts of the body which are most susceptible to injury.
Injuries can be prevented by slowly increasing exercise factors such as the frequency, intensity and duration of your exercise slowly so your body has time to adapt to the stimulus of exercise. This will help prevent overloading the body and reduce the risk of injury.
Making sure you eat enough calories to sustain your daily physical activity as well as eating nutrient dense meals will help to nourish your body with the nutrients and energy it needs to exercise safely.
Did you find this article useful? If so please share with those who may need a bit more motivation when coming back from injury and those who’d like to know how to get through times of injury a little better!