Whether you are a serious athlete, play recreational sports, or just like to stay active, getting an injury can be a major disappointment. In addition to keeping you away from the hobbies you enjoy, it can also be a major hassle for daily activities such as driving, showering, or putting items in an overhead cupboard. Taking the right steps to help speed up your injury recovery will help you return to your regular life more quickly, so it’s worth a little extra effort to be proactive.
Look at the Big Picture
Injury recovery is about more than just resting, elevating the affected area, applying ice when it hurts, and wrapping it to apply pressure. Although cold therapy and compression help to promote the healing process, they are not the only factors that may play a role in successful recovery. It is also important to nurture your body with proper nutrition and maintain fitness as much as possible while you recover.
Nutrition for Faster Injury Recovery
Even though you may have only injured an ankle or elbow, your entire body participates in the recovery process. Your body needs energy and nutrients to maintain normal processes, and even more so when an injury has occurred.
Drinking enough water to stay consistently hydrated will help promote the healing process. Staying hydrated will help keep your joints lubricated and support the delivery of oxygen and nutrients in blood. Drinking water also helps your body flush out toxins and cellular waste, which is produced more rapidly as tissues repair themselves while healing.
Your body also needs the right amount and balance of nutrients to stay healthy. Inflammation is a key part of the injury recovery process, so it’s important to try to eat foods that help counteract it, such as avocados, salmon, and nuts, and avoid those that contribute to it, like processed foods and those high in saturated fat.
As inflammation wanes and the recovery process continues, try to eat a balanced mix of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to help promote tissue repair. Whole grains, eggs, lean meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables are great for providing balanced nutrition without consuming excess calories. Although it may be tempting to diet while you recover, your body needs the calories to provide enough energy for healing, so don’t cut back too much.
Exercise Tips for Injury Recovery
It is important to get ample rest in the first few days after an injury occurs because your body needs all the energy it can harness to commit to healing damaged tissues. However, after this rest period, you can and should, where you’re able, start to introduce fitness maintenance activities that will not detract from injury recovery.
For example, if you have an upper body injury, low-impact cardio on a stationary recumbent bicycle can help you maintain heart health while you recover. If you have a lower body injury, you can spend time building upper body strength. In addition to cardio and strength building, injury recovery is also a great time to focus on increasing flexibility with gentle stretches.
If you’re not sure which activities are appropriate, ask a doctor or physical therapist for recommendations. Remember not to overdo it during this time. While it’s important to stay active, doing too much too soon can actually set you back in the recovery timeline.
For more tips on how to recover as quickly as possible from an injury, download our free Complete Injury Recovery Guide today.