Insult to Injury: Why You Haven’t Made A Full Recovery
If you are a runner, fitness enthusiast, weekend warrior, or weightlifter then chances are that you have dealt with an injury at some point. You may very well be dealing with an injury right now and are unsure of how to overcome it. Unfortunately the sequence of events below is all too common and leaves you frustrated and concerned on whether or not you’ll be able to get back to your favorite routine. The typical sequence of events from injury to recovery looks like this:
- Injury Occurs
- Injury is rested for some time
- Athlete, runner, fitness enthusiast tries to return back but the pain is still there.
- Multiple doctor visits with frustration and no answers (or no plan on how to recover properly)
- Maybe even some Google or YouTube advice
- Frustration sets in even more with concern on how you will get back to your favorite activity whether it be running, exercising, weight lifting, or your favorite fitness class.
Sound familiar at all? Whether you are on step 1 from above or step 3 the important thing to consider is WHY you haven’t made the full recovery yet. There are some very common reasons as to why the body has not fulled healed and the pain from injury remains which I will discuss below.
I’ve heard it a lot in my clinic. “I went to see a PT already but didn’t get better”, “I saw an orthopedist but I am still in pain”, “I already have been to see a Chiropractor but I only got minimal relief”. One common theme with these statements is that the person sought out help but was left disappointed when the treatment they received did not FIX their issue. One question I always ask is ” What did they THINK the problem was” and unfortunately the answer I often get is “Well they weren’t really sure what the issue was” or “I was never given a clear diagnosis”. That is MAJOR problem. Before fixing any injury (which essentially is providing the right healing environment for the body) you must figure out what is actually causing the issue to begin with (“the root cause”). Most injuries occur because of some sort of deficit or imbalance in the body. It is vital to go through a proper assessment to determine what the “cause” of the injury actually is. Once the true root cause of the condition is found proper treatment can be given. If treatment is given without this assessment and without identifying risk factors then you will not get the results that you desire.
Far too often I hear patients tell me stories about how they were given generic exercises (aka “cookie cutter approach”) that did not work for them. They invested a good amount of time and money but weren’t given the tailored approach that their body needed for them to heal. Each person who deals with an injury should be treated according to their SPECIFIC needs. For instance not all knee pain should be treated with the same exercises and stretches. Treatment depends on #1 the diagnosis (see above). Even then after the correct diagnosis is given the treatment can vary depending on what stage of injury the person is currently at ( i.e very beginning, middle, end stage, chronic). Think about it this way. If you have a small leak in the roof then you get the roofing company to come out and diagnose the issue quickly right? They provide the immediate easy solution and the leak is fixed. However what if you let that leak linger and it becomes bigger? Does the issue become more complex? Maybe it starts to involve other parts of your home? The point is that the simple leak that is found quickly is treated much more differently than the leak that has “been there for a while and is starting to cause more issues”. The same concept can be applied to an injury. Some key things to consider when resolving an injury is:
- What stage (early, middle, late) of healing are you currently at (your healthcare provider should be able to tell you this)
- What can you do to provide an optimal healing environment (i.e specific exercises, activity modification)
Wrong Healing Environment
An optimal healing environment is CRUCIAL to overcoming injury. It is often one of the most overlooked factors that can help get you back to running, surfing, exercising, or playing your favorite sport. Below are some of the factors that are involved in having the optimal healing environment for your injury:
Sleep is very important to allow for healing. During sleep our body takes the time to repair and remodel any damage that has occurred. In order for an injury to heal properly the appropriate amount of rest must take place. If you are waking up tired and find yourself needing that caffeine pick up in the early afternoon you likely are not getting the appropriate amount of sleep for optimal recovery.
Its likely that your injury has kept you from being able to exercise to the full extent. Yes, you may not be able to do a lot of your favorite exercises but it would be beneficial for you to find other avenues. For example if you love running but your knee hurts then try biking. If you have a hip injury that only hurts during squats and box jumps then skip those during your next workout (just do everything else that doesn’t cause your hip to hurt). Point being that its important to stay as ACTIVE as possible when dealing with any injury. It will help your mood and keep your moving towards your goal.
This is another factor that is also overlooked. What kind of food have you been eating? The body relies on good nutrients to perform optimally. Take a good look at what you eat and drink then ask yourself if you think its beneficial or detrimental for you. Get your diet right so your body can make the best use of those nutrients it needs to heal.
Keeping a positive mindset is crucial to recovery. There are so many psychological aspects that are overlooked when recovering from injury. People often fear the worst “What if this doesn’t work?”, “I guess I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my life”, “Nothing seems to work for me”. All of these negative thoughts WILL affect recovery. If you don’t think something will work or you are constantly worried you are wasting your time then it’s likely that you won’t put the effort in to reach your goals. The stress of life can also affect our ability to stay focused and that is why being in a supportive environment is very important.
If you are dealing with an injury and have not recovered the way you expected then consider what has been mentioned above. The most common reasons runners, fitness, enthusiasts, and weekend warriors are kept from doing what they love is because of the issues discussed in this article. There’s so much confusion out there about what to do or who to see and that can make the whole situation even more frustrating! Click Here For a Free Injury Phone Consult if you are struggling and are not sure what to do. We’ll have an open and honest conversation about what you are struggling with and what the best step for you to take is. Here’s to happy and healthy healing!
Dr. Nick Scotto is a leading and trusted physical therapist in Jacksonville, Fl. He founded River City Physical Therapy to better serve the active adults in Jacksonville who want to remain fit, healthy, and happy. Many fitness enthusiasts, runners, and active adults have consulted with Nick looking for a permanent solution to their pain. Through education and specific treatment plans he helps them to heal their body naturally and achieve their goals of returning to the activities they love.