You//Fitness and Health
by Greg Small
Such is the nature of the human body and sport, at any level, injury is part and parcel of life. Often, and unfortunately, as exercise professionals we see a great number of people with a looming injury that surfaces itself in a nasty way.
From frozen shoulder to that twinge in the back that just doesn’t seem to go away we can all fall foul of injury. Speaking from personal experience with my leg elevated and in casted in a moon boot from a torn achilles tendon as I write this, it’s often the mental side and lack of 'movement' that causes depression, regression and a feeling of self loathing.
How do we get over this? I personally put into a practice method the use it or lose it process, whilst I’m now on crutches with limited movement I am still able to wiggle my toes, massage my leg and use my crutches (horribly) to move around – it is this movement that ensures better blood flow, a better sense of independence and the ability to 'work out'. Further to this there is the mental strength side of things.
For three weeks I have been unable to bath myself properly (obviously my other half loved me for this) so I had set myself everyday tasks, one being – cleaning myself, dressing myself and then moving around the house and ensuring I got out of the house for a minimum of a five minute walk. These small things that were embedded from day one have now led to week four of my recovery being able to walk an impressive (in my eyes) 800 metres without dying in my lungs.
One small step for man, one giant leap in recovery (trademark pending). In recovery, and the treatment of injury, if we sit back, excuse the pun, and expect ourselves to ever get back to our original fit and healthy state we are kidding ourselves.
There are obviously exceptions to this and I would always recommend speaking to your health care professionals if you ever feel in doubt, but as a simple rule of thumb trust in yourself and listen to your body, no one knows your physical limitations better than yourself.
Steps to recovery will always depend on your medical treatment plan from your specialists however these specialists will always air on the side of caution – I’m not saying jump up and run, as in my case this would lead to a complete re-rupture of my tendon. However, understanding your limitations can only really be done by pushing yourself in the appropriate way.
Within exercise qualifications we are taught how to regress and progress exercise and I can safely say that understanding these disciplines is something that has aided me extremely well. From being a fully mobile six day a week lifter and cross fit enthusiast to now a mildly mobile crutch hurdler, understanding how to retrain muscles and also aid recovery through self massage, trigger point therapy and movement has helped me push my recovery time to a smaller period.
Exercises that I'm using heavily are mostly water aided i.e. in the bath/pool the compression provided by water allows movement and resistance that would not be able to be achieved on land. With the tips above – be smart, listen to your body and never over do it. If in pain you’ve gone too far, take it slow and steady and you’ll be back to your former self in no time.
Greg Small is the Head of Membership for the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs)