Your body is an amazing engine that has been engineered to heal itself in many ways. However, this does not always happen automatically or efficiently when you’re unknowingly, working against yourself.
My days consist of patients looking for relief, for a solution. I commonly hear “I know I need to lose weight” but while weight might play a role in injuries recurring or taking a bit longer to heal, I stand by my opinion that its very uncommon for weight to be the sole cause of a new pain or injury. When we need to get to the bottom of the various factors causing pain, we typically need to look at what has been holding you back from recovering. Life is a continuous cycle of one cell breaking down and another taking its place - Your body ultimately wants to be stronger and get better, but you may need to tweak a few things to LET IT HEAL.
What very few people are aware of, is the role that stress plays in hindering your ability to recover. Stress strains the immune system, making us more susceptible to getting sick, but your immune system also plays a vital role in your recovery from injuries. Excessive stress can therefore hold you back physically while also amplifying your perception of the symptoms. In turn, this fuels the resultant depression setting in and the vicious circle that follows…
If you’re always signing up for extra commitments that slowly add to your (already chaotic) day-to-day stress, perhaps you should take a step back from those while trying to recover.
Do I need to mention smoking? I smoked for long enough that I feel a little like a hypocrite when I condemn it, but you should know that while smoking has immediate and long-term effects on your lungs and sinuses, it also has a long-term effect on your body’s capacity to heal. Smoking slows it all down - wound healing and injury healing alike.
On to a big one! Are you sleeping enough? A lack of sleep delays healing in a multitude of ways.
Your immune system takes a knock yet again because your body builds the immune system while you sleep, and it needs enough time to do so properly. The injured area gets a solid break from activity to come back a little stronger. Your attention span in combination with your energy and capacity to focus on rehabilitation is also improved after enough sleep.
And last, but likely the most important driver of recovery, is waking up in a good mood. Sleep improves mood and dampens those feelings of defeat.
Looking more on the physical side, healing from an injury (or an operation) is dependent on having the right stuff, the required nutrients, like proteins, electrolytes, vitamins, water and energy to get the job done. So, make sure you eat well (good, old fashioned, nutritious food) while recovering.
It’s also dependent on some guidance and direction to ensure that, as an example, the muscle or cartilage heals by filling the damaged site in an organised fashion rather than aimlessly laying down clumps of scar tissue that would hinder recovery. You should therefore make sure that rehabilitation starts during the EARLY days and keep up your efforts with the home program you’re given. This is my #RehabReason1.
Resting after an injury does NOT speed up healing; in fact, the injured tissue needs all the support it can get from the surrounding muscles to stay protected, though you may need guidance on how to support the area correctly rather than breaking the healing structure down - #RehabReason2.
Maintaining mobility is often one of the biggest battles we as physiotherapists face with out patients, so while a degree of relative rest might be needed please move as much as you’re allowed/instructed to (trust your physio’s instructions here!) - #RehabReason3.
If you give your body the fuel it needs, a good immune system, the required combination of rest and conditioning to protect yet stimulate and injured area, and a can-do-attitude, you’ll be in awe of your body’s amazing ability to heal itself without any medication or surgery or injections….
Your health and physical wellbeing should be a priority deserving of quality care. Make sure to discuss any concerns you may have directly with your preferred physiotherapist, so that you can receive the appropriate guidance for your unique situation.
082 334 9028
Valley Centre Offices
396 Jan Smuts Avenue
(Convenient parking off Marian Road, behind the centre, up the ramp)
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