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Dealing with Injuries
Q: What recommendations do you give for active people dealing with new (or even old) injuries? How long does it typically take to return to exercise?
A: There are so many different types of injuries that we can't, in one page, do this topic justice. However, we can share some general recommendations and point you in the direction of other pages on our site that address strains, injuries and aches common among climbers, athletes and weekend warriors.
A very important factor in dealing with injuries is, of course, PREVENTION -- training properly, getting adequate rest, knowing your limits so you can learn when to back off and when to keep pushing yourself forward, and using sports restoration techniques to help get you back in the saddle after each tough workout.
Please note that we are NOT doctors, but as conditioning coaches who have worked closely in conjunction with physical therapists, we are aware of common ailments that typically afflict active people and what to do about them. As with any injury, the best bet is to have it checked out by a well-qualified sports medicine physician who deals with a wide variety of sports injuries every day. It also doesn't hurt to get a second or even third opinion if you have a severe injury with a somewhat questionable diagnosis.
However, before doing something as drastic as undergoing surgery, explore all options first -- you may find that massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, ART (active release therapy), yoga/stretching, strengthening, exercise modification, or other non-mainstream approaches might work in your particular case.
You probably are already well-versed in RICE as the first recommendation for any sort of injury -- Rest the affected area, Ice within the first 72 hours, Compression to keep the swelling down, and Elevation of the affected part, again to try to keep inflammation to a minimum. After 72 hours, you may want to alternate heat and ice (as in switching between hot and cold showers, soaking in the hot tub, or using a product like Icy Hot that you can massage into the affected area.)
You also will want to modify your activity substantially in order to allow the injured area to recover. Below is a list of topics we've addressed elsewhere on our web site; hopefully one of them will have suggestions that can help. When returning to your chosen activity, do not expect to jump right back into things at the same level you were at. Start sensibly, at low intensities, less frequency, and shorter duration. You may also want to shorten the range of motion (flat terrain vs. hills, short steps vs. long strides, half bench press instead of full range, walk-jog instead of run,, etc.) until the pain is completely gone. If you have more specific questions about a recent outdoor activity-related injury or strain, feel free to contact us.
LINKS TO OTHER INJURY TOPICS ON OUR WEB SITE
Finally, remember that the sooner you allow your body to recover, the faster you'll be able to return to your favorite activities. If you have a chronic condition that has been with you for years, it won't go away over night. If you have mildly strained a muscle and rest it for 3-5 days, that may be all the time you need before returning to activity at a somewhat modified level. Tendinitis or other overuse injuries take longer to heal, and fractures or breaks can take much longer than 6 weeks. Take preventative measures, listen to your body, train carefully and wisely, allow appropriate rest, and hopefully you can avoid ever having to deal with a severe injury.
One way to return to your favorite activity more quickly is to restore normal range-of-motion by including targeted stretching or yoga. For ideas, feel free to check out Karen Voightís yoga videos and DVDís.