After recently fracturing my elbow I was left feeling anxious after being told I needed 6 weeks rest for recovery (not ideal as a remedial sports massage therapist and dancer). After a few days of bewilderment I decided to change my attitude and do all that I could to help my body go through the complex process of healing. These are my top tips to help your body during an injury be it a full break of the collarbone or a sprained ankle.

1. Acceptance.

It may sound like the stages of grief but the sooner you accept your injury and allow yourself to think positively the sooner you can give your body the best facilities to recover.Positive thinking has a huge impact on the body and will allow you to get past the negative impact of your injury and put you in the head space to focus on your recovery. Try looking at athletes who have had similar injuries to you as you can learn from their recovery process and see there is light at the end of the tunnel. Think positive, you might actually enjoy the recovery process.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for Help

Sometimes you can’t do it all and this will always become apparent when you have an injury, the smallest of tasks such as putting on a pair on your favourite skinny jeans becomes a 15 minute task and will leave you feeling very frustrated.  This is where your family and friends come in, they will be there for you through your injury so don’t worry about asking for help. You would do it for them!

3. Understand your body 

When you have an injury you are no longer able to control some aspects of your life; you might not be able to work, or you might not be able cook yourself a meal. When this happens it’s always wise to stay in control as best you can, having an understanding of what your body is going through on the inside is going to help you stay on top, and help you know what steps to take for a speedy recovery.

After trauma you can lose ability to move the affected joint which could be a sign to freak out. Deep breath your fine, this is just due to a haematoma (swelling) in the joint and it is there to protect you. By doing your research the things that could be upsetting or worrying are simply a sign that your body wants you to heal as quickly as possible and you can help it along it’s way.

Do some research for your injury and the big scary things become much more manageable.

4. Self treatment

Once you have an understanding of what is happening under your skin you can begin to give it the best change for a speedy recovery.

Ice helps to reduce swelling which in turn will you allow you maximum movement mobility and therefore less pain.

Massage helps with circulation, so will therefore increase blood flow, our blood contains cells that help with the healing process in many ways. By giving yourself light massage above the injury site is going to help with this process, and applied daily is going to put you in the best stead to have a `speedy recovery’. Comfrey also known as Knitbone, can be applied to the skin as an oil or ointment, it can help to being broken bones together and enough cell production. Arnica is also a good to use for massage as it helps to reduce bruising and swelling therefore helping to reduce pain, applied to the skin as a cream or taken orally as a pill it will do wonders especially if you have had a trauma and there is bruising around the injury site.

** Daily massage with Comfrey oil is definitely the reason I had a speedy unproblematic recovery.

Recovery

5. Inactive < Active mind

If you are unable to keep as active due to an injury this is the best time to focus on that project you have never had the time to before, entertain your mind and the time will fly by. Learn a language or try a new skill (within your facilities). You can still achieve something amazing when your body isn’t 100%. Positive thinking!

6. Rest and Time

The healing process is very complex and it takes time and rest for the body to heal successfully.  Even when you begin to feel improvements its always best to ere on the side of caution and keep yourself protected. One thing I found was that once I removed my sling those around me assumed I was fine which made me stubborn and want to do tasks I just wasn’t ready for. Wear some kind of protection or aid that reminds you and those around you that you are still healing and you can’t over do it.

7. Maintain where Possible

If you temporarily lose use of a limb or muscle these are still exercises/activities you can do to help maintain as much of its function as possible.

For example getting a stress ball for your hand when you can’t use your elbow or shoulder this will allow you to maintain some of your grip and strength in your hand which will help to shorten your rehabilitation time when the arm is functioning again. Metatarsal work for your toes can be done by gripping a pen underneath your toes when you are unable to use you hip or knee joints, this again is going to enable you to maintain some function in the lower leg when movement at the joint is not possible. Any activity around the injured site is going to help as long as no pain is present… find what works for you and work with a good physiotherapist to give you confidence in the movement you can/ can’t do.

8. You are what you eat

And you want to be a lean mean healing machine so need to give yourself as much of the fuel it needs to repair and cut out the produce that is going to slow it down.

You want to alkalise your body as it heals better in this state. Avoiding acidic food such as meats, high sugar foods, caffeine and highly processed and refined foods.

Max yourself out with good proteins such as nuts, seeds and beans. Eat as many vegetables as you can to increase your nutrient intake. Lemon water is great to alkalise the body and its tastes delicious. It’s the advice you don’t want to hear but excessive alcohol should be avoided, its highly acidic and also puts you in a vulnerable place to re-injure yourself, in the long run it’s not really worth it.

Speak to your local nutritionist to give yourself the best idea of what to eat and to get a tailor made food plan around your lifestyle and recovery.

Recovery

9. Seek Treatment

Going to see your local physiotherapist or sports massage therapists is going to help you along the rehabilitation path to normal function. They will give you stretches and strengthening exercises to do daily throughout the different stages of recovery. Physiotherapists are best to see when bones are broken, whereas sports massage therapist will be able to help with muscles, tendon and ligament issues.

After doing your research from number 3, you know there is a lot happening at the site of injury. Getting treatment from your local sports massage therapists will help to encourage the healing process by increasing circulation, blood flow and increasing lymphatic flow, they will also address any scar tissue and adhesions around the site of injury that reduce tissue flexibility causing you pain and frustrations. Alongside helping with the injury itself they will also assessing any compensation the body is doing due to the injury and work with the soft tissue to encourage a healthy heal.

10. TLC.

More than anything you need to look after yourself with a big dose of tender love and care. It’s going to make the weeks of recovery a lot more easier and will help you keep smiling though your frustrations.