How to rebound from a sports injury.
(My Healing Guide)
This article is the next stage of my skiing love affair.
1) Face your despair and anger
I’ve never been as angry when I busted my knee skiing. Why should I get an injury? Sports injuries are for the rest of the world. So, I tinkered with the “what if scenario” thought experiment.
What if I found a way to time travel? Instead of going to the slopes, I decided to stay home. Maybe I would have gotten into a car crash after driving back from the grocery store. Or perhaps, while walking Rocky (the four-legged love of my life), he would run away or get hit by a car.
In fact, the truth is we don’t know how the universe works.
You can be angry at yourself for making the wrong decision, but in order to heal, you need to forgive yourself. Shit happens. So do accidents.
2) Allow yourself to be sad
Do you suppress your emotions? I do. Crying embarrasses me. In fact, I hate expressing sadness.
Nevertheless, allow yourself to mourn and feel whatever loss you are experiencing. Being “macho,” “strong,” or “brave” by burying or hiding your feelings in this situation is a waste of energy. Likewise, it will interfere with your ability to cope and recover. Feeling sad is very similar to feeling angry.
Allow yourself to be sad and move on.
3) Sports injury education
Just google it! You don’t need to be a doctor to understand your injury. Learn as much as possible about the anatomy of your injury, ask questions, and understand your condition. So you will be able to make an intelligent decision when the time comes. See at least three doctors before deciding on surgery or procedure.
First, make a list of questions before seeing a doctor. Secondly, request your medical information (MRI, X-RAY, reports, etc.). For example, I signed up for the online fax and received my MRI on the day when it was taken. Thirdly, create a folder for your injury. Finally, you can use the following sample list of questions to address with your doctor:
- What is my diagnosis?
- How long will recovery take?
- When can I start physical therapy?
- What should I expect during rehab?
- Are there any alternative workouts I can safely do?
- Should I be concerned about the warning signs that I am getting worse?
- Do I need surgery (Yes / No – consequences)?
- Are there any alternatives to the surgery?
- How can I ensure that I don’t have a blood clot?
4) Cultivate a positive attitude
A positive attitude is one of the critical phases of healing. For example, instead of freaking out about the blood clot, I refocused my energy on how lucky am I that one of the good doctors caught it. I am very young and super healthy. With that in mind, the recovery process will be relatively quick. Additionally, I have my wonderful husband and a small group of friends, including my pup, family in NY, and my dream life in Colorado. I will come out stronger and more knowledgeable. I can use this time to write and help others, to learn about injuries.
In fact, to heal quickly, we need to monitor what we are thinking and saying to ourselves regarding the injury and the rehab process. Count your blessings and remain focused on what you need to do. Start your day by writing down what you are grateful for. Remember this is not an intellectual exercise, close your eyes and feel what you are grateful for.
5) Be your own doctor
Growing research shows that it may be possible to speed up the healing process using specific mental skills and techniques such as imagery and self-hypnosis. These methods use all senses to create mental images, feelings, and sensations related to the desired outcome. As though it is happening now or has already occurred. In other words, the body is a perfect computer with the ability to heal.
As a matter of fact, your nervous system has two operating systems: 1) fight-or-flight stress response dominated by the sympathetic nervous system and 2) the relaxation response run by the parasympathetic nervous system. Only when your nervous system is in a relaxation response do your body’s self-repair mechanisms function.
Find some time during the day (preferably the first thing in the morning) for the following practice:
- Sit in a comfortable place where you won’t be interrupted.
- Take 12 breaths through your nose, inhaling and exhaling on the count of four
- Rub your palms and place them gently on the injured part
- Imagine healing light energy warming up and healing the injury
I like to imagine the army of soldiers cleaning the mess after the earthquake. Find what works for you.
6) Eat for your injury
Focus on eating super-duper healthy food and watch your portions. To minimize weight gain and speed up your recovery, remove foods that increase inflammation. These include saturated and trans fats and the added sugars found in cookies, cakes, pies, and other pastries, cereal bars, and pasta sauces. Based on my research, the following is the list of the most anti-inflammatory foods:
Ginger – mix it up with a little bit of honey and chop finely to eat raw with fruits and veggies. Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric – with growing evidence is accumulating that this brightly colored relative of ginger is a promising disease-preventive agent as well, due largely to its anti-inflammatory action.
Pineapple – helps reduce swelling, bruising, and pain in musculoskeletal injuries. In fact, one study showed that in otherwise healthy adults with mild knee pain, bromelain could reduce knee pain, thereby improving well-being.
Cherries (preferably tart or Montmorency cherries) – have been shown to have significant pain reduction, recovery-boosting, and anti-inflammatory effects. The benefits are believed to come from the anthocyanin content in the cherries.
Papaya – is rich in many vitamins and minerals, but its main pain-reducing ingredient is the proteolytic enzyme.
Flaxseeds and walnuts are star players and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables such as berries, broccoli, carrots, and spinach. In addition, phytochemicals are natural chemicals found in the plant foods suggested on the diets are also believed to help reduce inflammation.
7) Discover the healing power of essential oils
I found the following oils are the best to reduce inflammation and pain: chamomile, frankincense, peppermint, lavender, and sweet marjoram (also helps circulation).
This magical mixture, along with the anti-inflammatory diet and icing procedures, dramatically reduced my inflammation over the course of the oil of the two weeks. Do your research – there are quite a few brands available.
8) Find an exercise routine
I’ve been practicing yoga and Pilates for over 15 years. As a matter of fact, I taught folks with all kinds of injuries. Not to mention my own injuries. For this reason, I was able to adjust my exercise regime. My post-injury practice included breathing and raising arms or circling the head for a few days. Followed by standing and breathing, basic arm movement coordinated with breath followed by meditation. Additionally, I’ve added some strength training exercises as soon as the swelling reduced – around the third week.
So, depending upon the type of injury you have, you may be able to modify your training or add alternate forms of exercises to maintain cardiovascular conditioning or strength. Work with your trainer, therapist, or physician to establish a good alternative workout program.
With this in mind, by taking things slowly, setting realistic goals, and maintaining a positive, focused approach, you can overcome minor injuries quickly and major injuries in time.
9) Redirect your energy
My whole life is about movement. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. I am used to doing yoga and Pilates, walking my dog, and skiing. All of it is gone. I can’t do any of it.
Important to realize, this type of attitude will send you straight back to anger and sadness. Instead of thinking about what we can’t do, think of what we can do is key. I finally got some time to write, read and spend some time at home. I can reconnect with old friends and enjoy watching some shows on TV.
10) Seek counseling
Getting help from a professional is a sign of strength, not weakness, so if you feel very miserable and depressed for a period, don’t be afraid to seek out the help of a therapist. Talking to someone who can understand is always helpful and can get you back on your feet again.
11) Be patient and take one day at a time.
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 little bit better; this will only slow down your healing process. Instead, each day, do a bit more, and gradually you’ll start to build the confidence to get back out there.
Even though you’re improving, it’s hard to see those gains sometimes because you’re so focused on performing at your pre-injury levels.
Truly, I had to keep a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track my activities. So I was able to measure my daily progress.
To point out, if you keep track of your recovery, it can become apparent that you could only walk up half the stairs last week, and this week you did all the stairs!
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Anna Sheinman. They are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, and they are not intended as medical advice. Instead, they are intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from my own research and experience. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.