Nov 18th, 2009
It was around this time last year that I had the first, and probably not the last, major injury of my life, as I broke my ankle at a training camp and required surgery to put a plate and pins in it. So, I thought I would offer a few tips I found that aided in a fast recovery from injury.
Initially, remember the acronym RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) for the immediate treatment of injuries. Using these four measures in the first 48 hours of your injury is critical to speed up healing and protect the injured tissues. Better yet, take a first aid course to understand how to immediately treat future injuries to yourself and/or teammates.
Take responsibility for your injury and recovery. Seek out information about what you can do to speed up healing.
Work with a physiotherapist from the start that has experience treating athletes. They can really speed the recovery up and are a valuable source of information as they have likely seen the same injury many times before.
Enjoy the increased free time you may have without as much training/competing. Find a hobby you may not have had time for before. Catch up with friends and family. Find a job you enjoy. Keeping yourself occupied will take your mind off the injury and you will be back in full force in no time!
Give your body the best fuel possible to heal itself and make sure you eat enough. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and stay hydrated.
Listen to your body and be patient. It takes time to heal and your body needs rest while it's repairing itself. If you push your injury too soon you may set yourself back.
That said, do what you can to maintain your fitness. Be creative with your training and talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about what you can do. I started by spinning around the block on a wheelchair with my dog and doing arms only swimming in the pool. Eventually I set up a training station in the gym where I had a stationary bike, a double pole machine, and a laptop playing World Cup races to keep me entertained during long workouts indoors.
Visualize! Research has suggested that visualization can actually strengthen your muscles, speed up your healing, and improve your sports performance.
Set goals for your recovery and stay focused on them. Think long term and expect to make a full recovery. You'll be back in no time!