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Emily Smith

Emily Smith

Sports podiatrist
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Recovering from injury

Experts — Posted 21/09/15

How injury can be a motivation to change behaviour, address structural weaknesses and take a proactive approach to exercise.

When we are injury-free, life is good. Exercise is enjoyable and motivation levels are high. We are focused and committed. We feel good, look good and personal goals are continually challenged. We have an endorphin-fuelled, positive mindset with a boost in confidence and internal drive. 

I see it all too often. Sharp pain that makes a grown man cry. Pain that presents the morning after a hard training session, or following a period of rest. Days can turn into weeks or months out of action. Injuries progress from acute to chronic, frustration levels peak, motivation levels drop, pain may occur with daily activities and weight gain is possible.  

Most chronic injuries are either related to overload on soft-tissue (i.e. muscle, tendon, capsule, ligament, fascia) or excessive stress on the bone (i.e stress fracture). The primary reasons for overload and excessive stress are biomechanical dysfunction, poor technique, poor strength and/or ‘too much, too soon’ training errors. Spending hours each day sitting, as well as discrepancies such as flat feet, tight hip flexors, weak butt or poor core, can be major factors in the onset of pain. Evidently, a lack of fundamental strength and stability creates compensations on vulnerable structures which, when put under load, can ultimately lead to a breakdown along the chain.  

 

“To achieve an efficient return to your training, you need to be proactive and channel energy towards injury rehabilitation.”

 

If injury occurs, it is not the time to bury your head in the sand. To achieve an efficient return to your training, you need to be proactive and channel energy towards injury rehabilitation. Consulting with a trusted health professional for a comprehensive examination and accurate diagnosis allows you to understand your injury and obtain a structured management plan. Functional assessment will highlight your weaknesses and the contributing factors to your injury. Video analysis will identify bad habits, poor alignment and technique discrepancies and can be useful to review progress pre and post management.  

A good management plan will involve ‘homework’ to ensure essential tissue healing, graduated strengthening and load progression. When the appropriate time comes, it should also involve a ‘return to training’ schedule. Your homework may not necessarily raise a sweat, though it is the groundwork to unravel your weakness and lay foundations to get you back to training effectively and efficiently. 

Ask your health practitioner about ‘safe’ load levels or cross training exercises for you to complete to prevent loss of fitness and motivation. You need to be realistic and patient and listen to your body. If you skip the rehabilitation process and simply rest, although your pain may resolve, you risk the tissue becoming weaker and the likelihood of re-injury is significantly increased. 

The human body is an incredible machine with outstanding healing potential. With solid commitment and professional advice you can stand in good stead for a successful return to training, surpass achievements of your pre-injury self, learn invaluable lessons regarding your body, utilise the key principles of safe, progressive training loads, and inject your body with age-defying properties including strength, stability and conditioning. 

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