The Psychological and Physicality of healing

We strive to stay injury free and while there is a lot of ‘prehab’ and things we can do to limit the risks of injury, ultimately sh*t happens, and we make mistakes and sometimes things just happen that are totally out of our control.

So what now?

Cast for 6 weeks? Surgery? Physiotherapy? … undoubtedly everybody will have a different outcome depending on the injury location and extent of damage.

Typically, with broken bones for example, the consultant will want to reduce it and stabilise the fracture site. This means realign (possibly requiring surgery and metal work) and then immobilise the bones and surrounding joint/ joints, usually with a cast. This can vary in timeline but most frequently it’s between 4-6 weeks of immobilisation.

In a cast?

A few simple tips and tricks for your times of injury.

It is never too soon to see your physiotherapist:

- There is surprisingly a lot you can do to limit hypotrophy and the build-up of muscle imbalances. Speak to a physiotherapist to get some specialist exercises to suit you.

- Generic examples; core workouts and modified clinical Pilates.

- Increased cardiac output means an increase in venus return (back to school people!) in other words movement and exercise will ultimately help to flush out those waste products and provide nutrients to the injury site through increasing your circulation.

- Get your cast changed when you start to feel movement. Often this is at the 2-3 weeks mark. Don’t panic at the hypotrophy, it is inevitable, you will regain your strength with a bit of hard work, perseverance and patience.

- Occupation therapists can help you find tools and ways to help you while you recover at home to make all those once so simple activities of daily living much easier.

Biking not recommended!

Be kind to yourself

- Be kind to yourself, remove any stressors, focus on the things within your control and find a positive challenge.

- Try not to put pressure on yourself during this time of immobility. That website you were planning on creating or job search you were doing can wait if you believe it is making you feel more anxious.

- Unable to control it? Don’t worry about it! worrying won’t change it. Focus on controlling the controllables such as your decision making, e.g. to eat healthy food and do your rehab.

- Set a positive challenge. The positive challenge here is to heal well and return to sport.

- If we feel we are somewhat in control of our challenge, then positive emotions are more likely to be felt and thus achieve our optimal performance, in this case giving ourselves the best chance of recovery. This psychological theory is transferable to competitive sport and all forms of life.

The obvious and the random

- Eat your vegetables!

- Limit your alcohol consumption: if you can simply not drink any alcohol that would be fantastic… however be kind to yourself! Eat the chocolate bar, drink the glass of red wine, but within reason!

- Limit your screen time, there is a negative link between social media and anxiety and depression. If we are watching our friends doing the things that we wished we were, no matter how happy we are for them, it is hard not to feel some form of feeling sorry for ourselves, and too much of this isn’t going to help matters.

- Find a routine, starting with your sleeping pattern! Set an alarm if it means you won’t lounge in bed all day, even if it means you move from your bed to the sofa because that is all you can manage. Ensure you get your 8 hours sleep each night, or whatever is your norm. Set a task each day to complete, yes it might even be to make a bowel of cereal, that is okay, but it does have to be something that gives you that small sense of achievement.

- Find new hobbies you are physically able to do. Art? Sewing? Reading? Photography? Plan your next adventure? Spend more time with the family? We know it is never good to put all our eggs in one basket, however this is far too common when it comes to sport. Your sport can become your identity, and when this is taken away from you that’s your basket of eggs gone.

Click the link below to watch a few exercise examples, but do bare in mind these may not be appropriate to all lower limb injuries, so please consult with your physiotherapist before giving them a go.

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