How Can I Recover from an Injury?
For many of us, skiing is better than the best friend, family, or lover. Skiing can be a spiritual experience. When we aren’t skiing, we expect winter months as we crave the sweet solitude of the chairlift. Yet, we love going to the slopes. We count on the sport to quiet our anxieties, focus our minds, and make us happier, healthier, and saner.
I didn’t fall in love with skiing at first sight. It was challenging, but the rush of going down the mountain, fresh air, the snow kept me coming back. I put my mind, soul, heart, and body into skiing at 100%. I incorporated ski-specific strength training into my off-slope routine. I practiced on easy terrain and took lessons. My husband and I finally moved to CO a few years back, and my skiing dream came true! When the mountain splattered me down her trails, I got up and kept skiing until the dreaded injury. So, we can do our best, but accidents crop upon us. Regardless, it’s our reaction to the injury that affects our ability to heal. We can choose to suffer, and we can also choose to heal.
Currently, I am on my fifth recovery week after the Regenexx stem cell procedure. It is more bearable in comparison to my ski accident, but still a bitch! I believe this procedure will work, but just like in life, there are guarantees. Nevertheless, it is possible that keeps me going, not the guarantee…The possibility of coming back to play stronger and better. This keeps me motivated and on track. Everything becomes easier when we have our “whys.” The following are my top six steps towards a speedy recovery.
1) Do Your Physical Therapy
Science says: willpower is the highest in the morning. Create a routine and start with your most important tasks as early as you can. The longer the day goes on, the more fatigue your self-control gets. Make those early morning hours really count. Study shows that most successful people follow morning routines. Scott Adams engineered his routine to concentrate his creative energy into a few hours in the morning. Benjamin Franklin had some specific rules for how he started each morning. His three-hour block of morning routine stretched from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Billionaire John Paul DeJoria starts his day the same way, no matter where he is.
Often, I have zero motivation to get up early, even to practice my physical therapy. If I wait until I am inspired, I will never leave my bed. So instead, I don’t dwell on my feelings but get up and start with something very easy, like raising and lowering my arms in coordination with breathing. In fact, before I know it, I am done with my PT, and I feel fabulous. I create my weekly plan on Sunday. It consists of my workout schedule, meal plans, and activities. I wouldn’t say I like to waste precious time thinking of what to do when I wake up on Monday morning.
So, commit to doing your PT as prescribed, and don’t wait for inspiration or motivation. Instead, act!
2) Stop Self-Loathing
And…I hear you…now, can we move on?” or label it “thought.” Another proven method is to write your feelings and see what can be done about them. Not to mention, every time I injured myself, I came up stronger and better. In fact, all your failures are making you stronger.
The bottom line is recognizing your feelings, allowing yourself to be sad, angry, irritated, and moving on as quickly as you can.
3) Maintain Healthy Weight
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need as many calories for healing. In fact, science says that a low-calorie fasting-like diet enables the immune system to recognize and kill skin and breast cancer cells.
I gained over 10 lbs after my injury, and it took me a long time to lose it. Ray Cronise’s interview with Rich Roll really changed my outlook on this matter. I’ve been experimenting with intermittent fasting (16 to 20 hours break between meals and 24 fast once a week) over the course of a few months. As a result, I lost over 10 lbs I’ve gained since the injury. In addition, eating healthy meals is a great mood booster, while gaining pounds is a mental and physical burden for my mind and my body. Not to mention, weight gain is a healing worst enemy – inflammation.
I use measuring tape, Withings scale, Omron fat loss monitor, and an online nutrition tracker to keep me honest. It is easy to overeat when you feel sorry for yourself and not moving as much. But stuffing yourself with food won’t heal you.
Eat clean to heal!
4) Practice Healing Meditation
This is the quickest, very effective, and underutilized practice. Many of us think that meditation is to sit with your mind empty for hours in a lotus position. With this mindset, many of us won’t even try. There are many meditation techniques, and sitting empty-minded in a lotus position might work for some, but defiantly not for me.
As far as I am concerned, there are two key factors to consider when we embark on meditation practice: 1) “KISS” – keep it simple 2) consistency. My meditation practice lasts between 10 and 20 minutes daily. I like to practice after I work out and do some basic yoga. My meditation practice consists of focusing the mind on my breath, inhaling, and exhaling for about 12 to 20 counts. Sometimes I use mantras in coordination with a breath. When my mind is somewhat settled, I visualize my completely healed ACL and keep it in my mind’s for a few seconds. Then, I let go of the image and symbolically realize it to the universe with “thanks.” That’s it – simple, short, and consistent.
There are a lot of scientific studies to prove that meditation and visualization techniques can be very effective. You can visualize playing golf as much as you wish to use some common sense, but to actually succeed, you need to go and practice your game.
Basically, meditation and visualization is an additional tool we can use to speed up healing. Find a practice that resonates with you and practice it daily.
5) Keep Focusing on What You “CAN DO.”
It is so easier to find excuses not to move or do anything productive when we are injured. I allow myself to watch TV or space out on Facebook, but only after I’ve spent at least 45 minutes to an hour doing my most important tasks for the day. One of my most important goals is to heal, and physical therapy is the most important task of each day. In addition, I love to write and read. I have a long list of books and articles to delve into. In this case, I would spend 45 minutes reading or writing followed by 10 minutes on Facebook or an episode of “Doctor Who.”
I love how I feel after I pump some iron! I’ve resumed working on my core and arms using a little chair a week after my procedure. I can do “jumping jacks” on the exercise ball. I’ve been going to the pool once a week and cycle my bike while I work.
Depending upon the type of injury you have, you may change your training or add alternate forms of training to maintain cardiovascular conditioning or strength. Work with your trainer, therapist, or physician to establish a good alternative workout program.
6) Be Patient and Take One Day at a Time
Healing is an exercise in patience.
Make sure you give your body enough time to heal properly. Do not jump right back into it the day you start to feel a bit better; this will only slow down your healing process. Instead, each day, do a little more, and gradually you’ll start to build the confidence to get back out there.
Sometimes, even though you’re improving, it’s hard to see those gains because you’re so focused on performing at your pre-injury levels.
This is the hardest of all and not the last on my list by accident…I read this paragraph almost daily. I am not a patient person. I get really annoyed and want this to be over! Keeping a spreadsheet to track the activities and my mood levels each day helps identify the little progress. For instance, in my first week, I could only walk up half the stairs, and the second week I did all the stairs!
With the right knowledge, support and patience, you can overcome your injury without turning your whole world upside down. By taking things slowly, setting realistic goals, and maintaining a positive, focused approach, most of us can overcome minor injuries quickly and major injuries in time. Make sure you see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for any injury.
Thanks for reading!
What are your tips towards speedy recovery?