Sore back, knee or shoulder got you down? Still laid up with that cold or flu? You don’t want them to mess up your Holidays, do ya? Well there’s help on the way. Today I’ll show you how you can put those nagging injuries to rest and tomorrow I will show you how to cure the common cold. (thats right 🙂 )
Injuries. I decided to write about them because someone very close to me is struggling with one right now. In fact, someone extremely close to me, as in myself is also dealing with an injury. I pulled something in my hip doing an exotic new stretch I discovered. It illustrated a fundamental thing about fitness.
What exactly is an injury? In its essence an injury is the painful result of exceeding your body’s capacity in a certain way. This is important to understand because it is the key to fixing what ails you. You see, we all have a certain maximum ability to perform certain physical maneuvers. If you are out of shape and try something extreme you can predict the sweet details. Something gets pulled, torn, or dislocated. It’s all common sense.
Futhermore, once the injury has occured our maximum capacity for utilizing that limb or joint has just dropped to almost zero. And until some healing takes place it pretty much stays there.
Two things can be derived from this information: First, one trick to avoiding injuries is to either stay in bed all your life (impractical) or perform some form of regular exercise program to maintain that high capacity. Every time you work out you expand it a little. The laws of physiology say you have to push against a capacity to keep it from shrinking down over time. And if it shrinks too low, virtually any even slightly unusual motion can break it down.
Unavoidable conclusion? The alternative to a regular work out routine is Pain. You have to strive to maintain that capacity, even for everyday life.
Ok, despite your best precautions you did incur an injury, what is the first thing to do? If it doesn’t require hospitalization the first recommendation is the old RICE formula: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. This is to slow inflammation and prevent further injury. You should also look into nsaids and other painkillers. This is to “stop the bleeding” if you will.
But theres one thing to remember. Taking pain killers is like renting a car while your car is getting fixed. It buys you time. However you still have to get that car fixed. And here’s where we revisit the capacity thing.
Once you have completed the necessary healing period (which is usually only a couple days) you should immediately start a careful, gentle rehabilitation program. Physical therapy is technically maneuvering and manipulating an afflicted joint within it’s diminished capacity. If you don’t start moving that joint it will “freeze up”, that is tendons, muscles and related tissue will shorten and heal improperly, making it far easier to tear all over again. Of course you have to proceed cautiously and don’t go out of that safety zone.
As for my hip, from experience I could tell how much motion it could withstand. I just took a couple days off from working out, then used other muscles – ones that didn’t aggravate it. This produced motion in the “vicinity” which kept the afflicted joint mobile but non irritated. Next I’ll start easy workout maneuvers for it. It wasn’t a serious injury so I figure in two weeks I’ll be back to climbing ropes and crossfit training!
Tomorrow I’ll show you how to knock out or even prevent entirely those seasonal colds and flu that spoil our day. If you want to read more about injuries, heres an earlier post