Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dealing With Injury

I want to dedicate today's entry to a dear friend having knee surgery. Best thoughts of love and healing coming your way darlin.

We all face them as we travel along the path of healthy living. The journey to wellness is often littered with little setbacks. It's part of the deal. But we can keep those setbacks just minor inconveniences and not journey stoppers. With regular exercise there is going to be soreness, strains and pulls. Occasionally there are going to be times that we have to get help from a doctor.

Most injuries can be treated with the R.I.C.E. method. The R. stands for rest, the most important. I have a sore Achilles tendon from a couple of hard races so I'm taking it easy for a few days till I'm back to normal.

The I. stands for ice, every day I'm icing my tendon for 20 min, then letting it warm up for a half hour and then icing for 20 min more. The ice tricks your body into increasing the blood flow to the injured place, to warm it up, that increased blood flow promotes healing. Like the old "the squeaking wheel gets the grease" theory.

The C. is for compression. Not all injuries require this but some like sprained ankles do benefit from it. You have all seen people with the Knee braces and ankle braces. They do a couple of good things, one is to keep side ways motion to a minimum. The other is to provide support and keep swelling down. One of the best things you can do for your joints, especially the knees is to have strong leg muscles, ALL THE LEG MUSCLES. When you support your joints with strong muscles you cut way down on the chance of injury. Most injuries that are not a result of trauma are from an imbalance in muscle strength.

The E. is for elevation. Now this sounds like a direct contradiction to icing but it's not. Elevation, keeping your feet up to rest a knee or ankle will keep swelling down. The ice increases blood flow but you don't want the blood to pool there and cause swelling. An injury is damage and you need the blood to be bringing nutrients to the injured cells so they can heal and take away the waste. The swelling doesn't do anything good for you so keep your feet up and use the ice.

My injury to my Achilles was caused by over extending my stride when going down a steep hill to fast and not from an imbalance. So it's a long term project for me. I have had in the past issues with muscle strength imbalances. When I first started running, in the early 70s, I had back pain. The back pain turned out to be weak abs, yep, stomach muscles. My back muscles were stronger than my abs so the back had to do more than it's share of the work when I ran. I started doing ab work and quickly cured my imbalance and felt much better.

An easy way to make all your muscles stronger is to vary your workouts. If you normally just walk or run/walk briskly for a few miles 5 times a week, or run a few times a week, try this. One day walk on the road or sidewalk, the next time do at least a portion of your walk or run on grass. Then the next time find a place with some challenging hills. Keep alternating your terrain like this and vary your speed, do some faster bursts during you walking or running. Just doing these things will make ALL your leg muscles stronger. Add an exercise for your tummy and upper body a couple of times a week and your there. I push mow my yard to make sure I get some upper body work.

Thanks for reading.

Balanced Panda

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