Nothing brings down an athlete faster both mentally and physically than a debilitating injury. Whether it is the smallest pain or an injury that requires surgery, every competitor young and old will find themselves disheartened, frustrated and agitated. As a very competitive and active athlete, I can attest that nothing is more tormenting than an injury that prevents me from doing what I love to do most. Even as I write this now I am suffering from tendonitis in both knees and a strained shoulder muscle preventing me from training for my next triathlon. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself an “expert” when it comes to injury treatment, but perhaps a “seasoned veteran” is a better suited title for me.
So, what can YOU do to alleviate the nagging pain for yourself or your loved ones? As I am sure many of you have heard the acronym R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate), which many physicians will recommend for those tending to sports related injuries. All of us have the ability to follow such guidelines for healing, but not everyone knows how to comfort themselves during recovery. Therefore, I have some personal recommendations that you can use to soothe the pain and provide some much needed relief and comfort for yourself or a loved one.
While Resting the injured part of the body, one may find themselves on their favorite chair or couch for an extended period of time, especially after a surgery. It always makes a big difference to have the proper pillow to maximize comfort while resting. Not only does this reduce strain on the neck and head while laying down or sitting up, but more importantly, one can use the pillow to rest an injured arm (or leg), keeping it Elevated and stationary. Elevation is important to reduce the swelling to the injured area, which promotes faster healing. A microbead squish pillow is a great choice for this, particularly in a cylindrical shape, which improves support for aches and pains behind the neck or lower back. A pillow with buckwheat or polystyrene is essential so that the pillow is malleable and flexible enough to mold to any body part.
Ice is also extremely important for reducing swelling and pain. I have also found that the process of heating and cooling is extremely soothing and helps me get moving again faster. There are a few items that you may find useful for heating and cooling, including a heating/cooling balm, which is great for sports injuries, or a heating/cooling wrap. Especially after football games when I would be battered and bruised nothing felt better and more relaxing than a heating/cooling balm on my achy muscles and a body wrap on my stiff shoulders and back.
I have also found that while elevating, icing, or resting in bed or on the couch, my feet get really cold and uncomfortable, so I always put on a really comfy pair of socks. Bamboo socks have become my favorite because they are both extremely comfortable and warm, but provide exceptional breathability.
Another necessity that many don’t consider or attribute to faster healing is the inclusion of water into their routine. I always recommend keeping an easy to use water bottle (preferably non-spilling) next to me when I am subjected to the couch, so I can maintain a steady intake of water for general nutrition or to take pain medications. Also, snacks are always a necessity when resting and healing, especially healthy snacks, since one is usually immobile and cannot exercise properly. Therefore, I recommend natural fruit chips, nut snacks, and small crackers, while avoiding processed foods with high amounts of sugar and fat, which don’t aid healing.
Naturally, when one is confined to the couch for long periods of time, boredom is sure to set in. So, it is always nice to have an uplifting book, magazine or game to keep the brain stimulated. I personally prefer puzzles like crosswords, Sudoku puzzles or joke books to keep myself entertained and my spirits high.
Emotional support is just as important as physical support, so offering your time and services to a friend or loved one can be just as useful as a gift. This may include doing small, simple tasks or errands for someone who is injured, like taking out the trash or cooking a meal. Even the most minuscule, everyday tasks can add up to a whole lot and will reduce unnecessary stress for those who are incapacitated by any injury. But, if you aren’t in a close proximity to provide such services then a gift with helpful products that will aid and abet the healing process is a great choice. By following any of my recommendations you will likely make yourself or a loved one far more comfortable and relieved during recovery from a sports injury or surgery. Hopefully you and your loved ones will have better fortune than me! Good Luck!