One of the biggest problems in the treatment of sports injuries is that people handle their injuries the wrong way.
Too many of us make our injuries much worse than they have to be. There are a lot of different ways to treat your injuries, but today we want to focus on a few things Dr. Jason Jared DC, sports injury and musculoskeletal specialist and founder of the TRIFACTIVE Method™, says you shouldn’t do if you want to get back on the road, the field, or the court faster.
1. Don’t treat your injury with kid gloves
There are injuries that need time and rest, but that old standby shouldn’t be used as a blanket treatment for all injuries. Each injury is different, and each person is different, but at TRIFACTIVE® our patients want to get back to not just being active, but being competitive.
In most cases you want to be aggressive with your treatment.
“Your body is not going to learn to do anything different if you’re resting,” Dr. Jared says. “It’s tough love, but not everything you do to get better is going to feel good. If you’re looking to perform better, it’s going to take work, not rest.”
Treatment for plantar fasciitis, the inflammation and tearing of fascia in your foot, is a prime example of this.
“People aren’t aggressive enough with it,” he says. “They baby it and make it worse. That’s why it’s so hard to recover. Add in the fact that we’re on our feet all the time and it’s even more difficult to actually rest it. You should work the tissue and break up the adhesions using manual therapy and tools. It’s not fun, but if you do it quickly and smartly you can get over the injury faster and perform better.”
2. Don’t use time as an excuse
Not only do you have to make time for exercise, but you also have to make time for injury prevention and treatment. This means stretching, foam rolling, and regular adjustments and massage therapy sessions.
This joint manipulation will activate your proprioceptors so your brain can better coordinate muscle activation patterns. Massage therapy lengthens muscles to improve range of motion.
When you don’t do this, you’re hurting yourself in the long run. That time you’re “saving” now is going to be lost later when those aches turn into injuries, or those injuries turn into chronic conditions. The time “saved” now is lost to doctors, surgeries, and treatments later.
“People want to avoid the cost of something so they don’t go see a therapist regularly,” Dr. Jared says. ”They avoid it until they have an injury and have to do something. Breaking that habit is one of the most difficult things we have to do here.”
3. Don’t give up
How many times have you been injured and treated it by giving up the activity? Maybe your back hurt so you stopped playing basketball. Or your knee hurt so you gave up running.
“I feel better now since I stopped X,” you told your friends.
But you didn’t feel better, and you didn’t get better. You just stopped doing something, and it was probably something you loved to do.
“People equate not doing an activity for feeling better,” Dr. Jared says. “But that’s not the same thing. You don’t have to stop.”
Instead: Find a professional whose goal is not just to make you feel better, but to get you to a place where you’re performing better. There’s a big difference between those two philosophies, and it’s one serious athletes must understand.
4. Don’t use heat on an acute injury
“I’ve never heard a professional push heat for an acute injury,” Dr. Jared says. “But 90 percent of the time patients will do it. Why? Mostly because ice just doesn’t feel good.”
If you have a knee injury and you put ice on it, you’re going to dull the nerve endings and feel less pain. If you put heat on it, you’re going to draw blood to it, increase swelling, and feel more pain. Since you’ve increased swelling, you’ll also increase the time it takes to recover.
Now, if you work a job that leaves you with an aching back at the end of the day, heat may soothe it and it may feel better, but don’t mistake that with actually getting healthier.
Ice is always the better choice than heat for an acute injury and getting you back to your sport faster.
Pro Tip: Ice packs are necessary and definitely help, but if you have the option, try submerging an injured extremity in an ice bath. If you sprain an ankle, for instance, submerge it in a small bucket filled with ice water. That drastically increases the cold and penetrates more deeply and rapidly than an ice pack will.
5. Don’t use advertising to self-diagnose
“Do you ever feel sluggish? Have trouble sleeping? Are you irritable? Then you just might have [insert condition with unpronounceable name here].”
You’ve heard this type of commercial pitch, and it probably made you wonder whether, in fact, you do have some disease or chronic problem you never heard of until that commercial interrupted your favorite show.
But you almost certainly don’t, and if you do indeed have a musculoskeletal issue, you don’t need prescription drugs for it. With rare exceptions, a smart, scientifically proven combination of chiropractic adjustment, massage therapy, and physical therapy will get you back to performing your best without the laundry list of side effects.
Often, the first step to get back to your active lifestyle and performing better than ever is not taking one of these steps in the wrong direction.