Exercise is beneficial in so many ways, as we all know. But how exercise heals injury is only now being acknowledged. The chief hat tip to exercise is the fact that the RICE formula for recovery – rest, ice, compression, elevation – has now been amended to MICE – movement, ice, compression, elevation.
While rest is important, targeted exercise is a major support to fast and successful recovery. Let’s talk about how exercise heals injury.
People’s behavior in recovery will often be influenced by lifestyle prior to their injuries. For example, if you were sedentary before you hurt yourself, you’ll be tempted to use your injury as an excuse to be a couch potato for the duration. That won’t keep the blood flowing and will cause you to lose vital muscle mass.
But if you were active prior to hurting yourself, you’ll be anxious to heal and you may overdo recovery exercise, exacerbating the problem. You can make the existing injury worse or provoke another one, as you compensate for the injured part of your body.
There’s a sweet spot here and much of it concerns the nature of your injury, your fitness level and the work of your recovery experts, from your surgeon to your physical therapist.
So, how do you honor the need to exercise without hurting yourself again, or making your injury worse? Follow these 3 basic guidelines. That’s how!
Listen to your body
Your body is going to tell you if you’re pushing it past a comfortable range of motion. Some of us listen. Others don’t.
But it’s important that you operate within a range of motion that doesn’t cause you pain.
Choose smaller movements within that comfort zone and don’t use resistance exercise to start with. Get your body moving first, then add resistance as you begin to heal.
Modify your workout to accommodate your temporary new normal and reduce the number of repetitions you normally do.
Whole body workouts
While it’s important that you understand what the injured area needs to recover, it’s also important that you work your entire body. This helps you avoid compensation injuries.
This approach to recovery exercise keeps you centered in your body, without losing the mobility and muscle tone you’ve built up, pre-injury. Being keenly aware of form while in recovery is another way to prevent re-injury or a new injury. You’re rebuilding that part of your body, but to do that you need the support of the rest of your body. It’s all one thing.
It’s tough to take, but some injuries require up to a year to fully resolve. That means you need to manage your own expectations in recovery, so you don’t get discouraged. Remember – slow and steady wins the race. That’s the right approach to recovery.
Be aware of the small improvements as you go along. Keeping an exercise, pain and sleep journal is a good way to track your progress toward recovery.
Need recovery support? Contact the pain relief team at Back & Body Medical New Jersey. We’re here to help.