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  • Written by Diana Smith

Sports injuries are a real nuisance. Not only do they prevent us from exercising and improving our health, but the recovery may be very long, which adds to the overall frustration. To begin with, we have to understand that there are no overnight miracles. Sports injuries take their toll and we have to be patient and smart if we want to return to our sport or daily functional activities as soon as possible. However, even though we can’t recover instantly, we can do something to make the recovery process shorter. Here are some tips that should help you speed up your recovery without jeopardising your health.

Get the right diagnosis and understand your injury

No sports injury should be treated without a thorough clinical examination and imaging (scans and/or X-rays). Only then can the right diagnosis be set by an expert and you can start with the treatment. Apart from this physical aspect, there is another important element, which is related to the mental aspect. Namely, you need to understand the nature of your injury in order to help you mentally prepare for your recovery. While minor sprains or tears typically improve significantly after two weeks of rest and a break from sport, some more serious injuries require more time. If no improvement is noticed, you need to visit your sports doctor as soon as possible.

Have patience

Under no circumstances should you use an injured body part before it has healed sufficiently. Otherwise, you’ll only aggravate the situation and make the recovery longer and more difficult. Pain is your friend, actually, since it indicates an ongoing injury and you shouldn’t ignore it. In most cases, you can immobilise the injured area with a brace or splint and rest to allow complete healing. Above all, you need to be patient and realistic about the injury.

Cold therapy and elevation

One of the most common type of injury is an acute soft tissue injury, which is treated with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). The pain you feel comes as a consequence of swelling, redness and warmth. Cold therapy (icing) deals with the pain, while compression with a soft bandage limits swelling. Another method of dealing with swelling is elevation, since it reduces it due to gravity. RICE therapy is used to control the initial inflammation and start the healing process as soon as possible.

Regular monitoring

Unless your doctor monitors your progress regularly, there is no way your treatment can be adjusted for better results. So, make sure you never miss an appointment or, in case the nature of your injury is such that it prevents you from leaving home, arrange for a home doctor visit. Make sure you let your doctor know everything you find important about your progress and answer their questions providing sufficient detail, so that they are able to prescribe the best treatment.

Careful with early movements

You shouldn’t really move the injured part before the initial inflammation has settled. Once it happens, make sure you limit your first motions in accordance with what your physiotherapist or doctor suggested. If you return to sport too early, while your joint motion is still rather limited, you’re running a risk of further injury that could easily be much worse than the original one.

Healthy diet

There are various types of food that can help your body heal faster following an injury. Your body’s muscle-building process will benefit from protein-rich foods, such as meat and fish. On the other hand, dark leafy greens and citrus fruit, which are rich in vitamin C help produce collagen that rebuilds tissues and has anti-inflammatory properties. If you’ve injured a bone, you should take more calcium-rich food and get as much exposure to vitamin D from sunlight.

Basically, if you want to recover from a sports injury properly and quickly, you need to have the right diagnosis and treatment prescribed by an expert. Next, you need to prepare mentally for whatever awaits you in terms of getting fit and healthy again. Finally, you need to combine your physical rehabilitation with a proper diet. However, the most important thing is to understand that some things just can’t be rushed and that the only thing you can do is make the most of that time.

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