What should you focus on when injured?
Updated: Jan 6
Most people assume that a specific injury, like an ACL tear for example, is always treated the same way. I finished my degree believing that injuries were very mechanical in nature and would therefore be treated a certain way every time. Whilst it is true that specific injuries can have similar signs and symptoms to help us diagnose them, they do not always present to us in the same way. This is also true for our treatment of them.
For any of the 100s of injuries you could experience, many factors determine how well you will recover, your pain-levels and which treatments you will benefit most from. Too often, we naturally focus on trying to treat the injury but in actual fact, we're probably being too specific!
Lots of research has been conducted into this area over recent years and the Sports Physio, Adam Meakins, sums it up well...
The idea is that the most important aspects of the pyramid's structure are the foundations at the bottom and least important aspects at the top. As we can see, some factors that you may not have considered to have an effect on your injury are considered the most important! Likewise, treatment modalities like dry needling and taping may not be as crucial as we once believed. If we focus on the factors towards the bottom of this pyramid, then we may have a more positive effect on reducing the risk of injury and help treat our current injuries.
Stretching, foam rolling, massage and taping may not be crucial to your recovery from injury, but this does not mean that they should be totally neglected if you feel they help!
However, we should focus our attention more on aspects like:
Including regular recovery days within our training schedules, e.g 1 'easy' week every 4 weeks
Progressive strength work, tailored to the activities we want to return to,
Consistent sleeping patterns, ideally >8 hours but just more than we currently are.
Reducing stress levels - Meeting up with friends, finding activities we love that don't aggravate our symptoms and speaking to someone about our struggles (not just our injury worries).
Reducing fear of pain and movement - Avoiding activities because they are painful is a natural response. Understanding that performing movements with pain is normal and, in most cases, does not equal injury. This improves our confidence, function and in turn reduces our overall pain.