First Aid for soft tissue injuries:
The first step with any injury is the application of First Aid. Apply the RICE principle as quickly as you can: Rest: stop doing the activity you were doing and rest the injured area; Ice – apply ice indirectly (through a cloth or towel); Compression – apply pressure to the injured site through a stocking or bandage. Be mindful of circulation; and Elevation – elevate the injured area to slow the blood flow and prevent excessive swelling.
Have the injury appropriately diagnosed. Book in as soon as possible to see your respective doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath or other health professional. If you don’t get a diagnosis, ask for a referral or go and see someone else. The diagnosis is the first step and if you don’t know what you are dealing with you can’t treat and manage the injury in the best way possible.
Once you have a diagnosis your rehabilitation starts IMMEDIATELY. This is the same as any personal training program. It requires a plan, discipline and persistence. Depending on the type of injury and it’s severity all rehabilitation will differ but here are some basic principles that apply to almost every form of injury. First, you need to attend to the acute stage of the injury. This involves pain management and reducing any swelling or inflammation. From here, it is time to act. With virtually any injury, you will need to start doing some form of rehabilitation immediately. This might be as simple as wiggling your toes after a fractured ankle or turning a door handle if you have suffered a wrist sprain. Wherever your starting point, the important thing is to seek guidance and ensure that you are progressing your rehabilitation safely but PURPOSEFULLY. To complement this rehabilitation you need to consider that your body should be treated with respect and the greatest success is achieved when you are doing everything you can to assist your rehabilitation. To do this, go back to the basics of a healthy body. You need to exercise, sleep well, eat well, recover adequately and listen to your body. Start exercising as soon as you can. I have trained people with sprained ankles, dislocated shoulders, hip replacements, post-heart surgery and many other injuries/illness in between and what I know is that there is always some form of exercise that you can do that is beneficial. This is not being wreckless. This is being pro-active, pragmatic and at times, ingenuitive. Despite any injury, the positivity that flows from any exercise bout is invaluable. If you have a broken arm, you can train your legs and abdominals. If you have a medial ligament strain in your knee, then you can train your upper body and abdominals. This will ensure that when your injury heals, the rest of your body will be ready to go and will not have suffered any effects of detraining. This then needs to be accompanied by 8+ hours of sleep to allow your body to heal and recover. Proper nutrition will also add to the healing process. Lots of protein is critical (up to 2g per kg of body weight) and plenty of vitamins and minerals in the form of vegetables (5 serves per day) and fruit (2 serves per day). Throughout the rehabilitation it is important to listen to your body and pay attention to any changes (improvements, setbacks). Talk to your trainer and your respective health professionals to adjust your plan as you notice changes.
Everyone gets injured. Healthy people know this. They are just masters of getting themselves back on track quickly and never let a setback get in the way of their dreams and goals.