Injury recovery typically lasts for weeks. Most athletes feel that their injured body part after healing seem to perform less compared to pre-injury performance. This should not be the case. Any injured body structure should be able to heal and recover fully, going back to the same level of performance as before the injury happened.
The difference may be a result of poor injury management.
Traditional Medical Management of Sports Injuries
Practitioners of medicine typically responds to sports injuries with RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation during the first few days after the incident. Painkillers may be prescribed and NSAIDs are typically given to reduce pain and inflammation.
The traditional medical view is focused on stabilizing the injured area and preventing further damage. There isn’t a lot of attention placed on the recovery phase.
This is not enough.
The recovery phase is still an important period to support in order to promote better healing and recovery. This is also important in preventing the formation of structural defects during the healing period.
Another downfall of the traditional medical approach to treating sports injuries is thought to be its main strength. Management is aimed at immediately reducing inflammation. This would reduce pain. It is also believed to help prevent further injuries. However…
The Truth About Inflammation
Inflammation does contribute to pain. It also causes the injured area to swell, feel warm to the touch and appear red. Most people think this is a bad thing and must be dealt with. Most people, including many medical practitioners.
Inflammation is a natural response to injury. It is the body’s own way to contain the damage within a limited area.
The swelling is from the influx of fluids, platelets and other molecules that prevent injury from spreading. An injured tissue will release the proteins normally contained inside intact cells. Proteins attract water. The released proteins will attract more water to the injured site, contributing to swelling.
The redness comes from the released compounds from the injured tissues. It is also from this influx and the activity of compounds that starts the repair of the injury. The increase in blood flow to the area brings along more nutrients for healing and recovery of the injured site. Blood also promotes faster removal of dead cells and the potentially harmful compounds released due to injury. Maybe now you understand the importance of this inflammatory response and that reducing it is not necessarily the best way to approach an injury.
Pain is a result of the many processes involved in inflammation. The swollen injured site presses upon nearby nerve endings, sending pain signals to the brain.
Why Trying to Manage Inflammation is Not Always a Good Idea
Traditional medical treatments targets inflammation. They try to stop the inflammatory process to reduce the pain and the swelling. The injured person may think this type of management is good because it does reduce inflammation and pain, but here is what really happens:
Inhibiting the normal inflammatory process might do more harm than good. The body should be allowed to heal itself naturally. It will take around 5 days for soft tissues to heal and about 3 weeks for bones to recover from injury. Cut that period short and you might risk compromising proper healing. Structural defects may develop.
The injured muscles, bones, and soft tissues may seem to have healed. However, these wouldn’t have the same full potential as before. The healed tissues will not be able to hold up as well in the presence of heavy loads or strenuous activities as they did before.
The Best Way to Manage Sports Injuries
NSAIDs do work at reducing inflammation and pain from sports injuries. In the immediate phase, this can be very helpful. However, in the long term, this can be more damaging. Because of that they should only be use in worst case scenarios.
The better way is to optimize the body’s natural way of healing itself. Boost the inflammatory pathway and allow it to perform what it is supposed to do.
Instead of stopping the inflammatory pathway, it should be assisted. It should be kept under control to avoid excessive inflammatory response. One good way to support and keep inflammation from over performing is by taking natural compounds in foods that work in this manner.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These healthy fats are known to help the body in many ways. They are also known for their anti-inflammatory effect. This effect is not on the same level as NSAIDs, however, their anti-inflammatory effect is more regulating and keeps the inflammatory process normal, operating at its best.
The anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fatty acids in higher doses are more towards limiting inflammation. At daily moderate doses of 3 to 9 grams, their effects are more towards optimizing inflammation to promote better healing and recovery. At moderate doses, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce omega-6 fatty acids inflammatory-inducing effects.
The regulatory effect of omega-3 on omega-6 fatty acids is very important. Omega-6 at high doses promotes systemic inflammation that can easily go awry. This can promote detrimental inflammatory processes that won’t help with injury recovery.
It is easier to get more omega-6s than omega-3s. Omega-6 is abundant in commonly consumed foods such as most snacks, vegetable oils and no grassfed animal products.
You can choose to reduce your intake of omega-6 foods and increase omega-3. Add more fatty fish to your diet instead of eating factory farmed pork and dairy. Good examples are salmon, herring, and mackerel.
Increase the healing power of the body’s own natural inflammatory cascade by eating more garlic. This herb has many uses, including better regulation of inflammation. The active compounds inhibit the release of too much pro-inflammatory compounds and it also prevents excessive activation of signaling pathways for the production and release of macrophages. These are cells of the immune system that play important roles in the inflammatory cascade.
Add more garlic to your dishes the next time you cook. If you are not at all excited about having a garlic breath, you may choose to take supplements instead. Take supplements that contain garlic extracts (about 600-1200 mg per day).
Insulin-like growth factor 1 is a popular compound among bodybuilders. This compound support the growth of lean muscle. IGF-1 is naturally produced by the liver, under the directive of growth hormone. Aside from lean muscle growth, IGF-1 also helps in tissue recovery. It supports healing of injured bones and joints. Tissue regeneration after strenuous exercise and/or injury happens under the influence of IGF-1.
One study found that there is a link between IGF-1 and inflammation. People suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions had the lowest concentrations of IGF-1. This suggests that IGF-1 plays a role in controlling levels of inflammation in the body.
You can boost the amount of IGF-1 in your body to promote faster healing and keep inflammation in check by eating more of these foods:
– High protein foods
A 2011 study demonstrated how IGF-1 levels can be increased with protein consumption. A high protein diet can lead to a significant rise in IGF-1 levels. The highest increase is achieved from regularly consuming whey protein, at 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight.
– Capsaicin and soy isoflavones
These compounds have a synergistic action. They influence the liver, stimulating this organ to produce more IGF-1. This increase helps in improving tissue recovery. This effect was actually discovered “by accident” during a study involving soy isoflavones, capsaicin and hair loss.
This is the first milk produced by a cow mother. It is made by humans, cows and goats.
Colostrum is extremely dense in nutrients. Research found that it contains high concentrations of IGF-1 and several other growth factors.
It is not practical to drink fresh colostrum outright. The next best choice would be to take supplements that contain powdered colostrum extracts. This may be very helpful in speeding up recovery after an injury.
Intermittent Heat Application
Applying ice on an injured site has long believed to be essential in speeding up recovery. Ice is only effective in the immediate period following an injury. It can reduce swelling and pain. Repeated and prolonged application can delay healing of tissues.
Studies found that heat application can be an effective measure in supporting tissue healing and recovery. Intermittent hyperthermia (heating up) can help, such as half an hour of hot bath or sauna.
Heat application activates the body’s HSPs. These are special units called heat shock proteins. When activated, HSPs aid in the repair of any abnormal structural tissue and promote regrowth. They also boost tissue recovery and muscle growth by as much as 30% after periods of inactivity.
HSPs work in two main ways. One, HSPs aid in fixing any incomplete recovery of connective tissue that may result from poor injury management. Two, HSPs support muscle mass recovery after injuries that caused muscle atrophy.
Aside from stimulating the HSPs, intermittent heat application also boosts the expression of HGH (Human growth hormone). HGH promotes further increases in IGF-1 levels. Aside from heat application, HGH levels can be significantly increased with natural HGH supplements.
This ancient herb is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Cissus is used in promoting pain relief. It is also known to be used for speeding the recovery of broken bones.
Scientific research has found that this Ayurvedic herb may help in relieving pain from injuries and boosting the rate of tissue recovery.
Cissus also increases osteopontin expression. This is a protein that stimulates efficient and fast new bone tissue remodeling. It also helps reduce chronic inflammatory states, as well as improved mobility and pain relief.
These tips all support faster recovery from injuries. Traditional medical treatments of sports injuries can help but may result in poor restructuring of the injured site. This can compromise the return of normal pre-injury function and performance of the injured tissues. You may try to use the methods discussed in this article instead in to promote speedy exercise injury recovery allowing you to once again perform at your peak.
PS Do you suffer from runner’s knee? What you did about it? Let me know in the comment section below!