Whether you’re an elite athlete or recovering from surgery, everyone wants to get better as fast as possible. The most common question I’m asked as a physiotherapist, Is how long do you think this will take to heal? The answer is a complex one and is dependent on multiple factors.
Firstly, there are variables of which we have no control. Such as;
- Age - As we age our ability to replace bodily cells slows down.
- Genetic makeup - Bone density, muscle fibre composition and many more factors can be predetermined by our genes.
- Severity of injury- Injuries and diseases often have grades or stages indicative of their severity.
However, there are variables that you can control. I frequently discuss these topics with my physiotherapy patients throughout their rehabilitation and I’m going to expand on them here.
Avoid painful activity but stay active
One of the most important parts of a physiotherapist intervention is offloading the injured tissue. For example, providing an air cast boot for a sprained ankle. This doesn’t mean that the patient stops moving all together. The idea of complete bed rest is a thing of the past. Staying with our ankle example, the patient may be encouraged to swim or cycle providing non-weight bearing cardiovascular exercise.
When appropriate, your physiotherapist will then guide you through an graded rehabilitation program strengthening the injured tissues at the right time.
Eat well & limit alcohol
We are what we eat. If you are not providing the adequate nutrition to your body, you can’t expect it to heal efficiently. There isn’t enough scientific data to conclude the perfect diet for an injured patient. However, a balanced diet with lots of fresh produce and limited process food is what you should be aiming for.
You should also avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol can inhibit endocrine function and protein synthesis, two essential factors of recovering from injury or disease.
Pain can often disturb sleep. Which can in turn, create a negative feedback loop. Without sleep, the body struggles to heal. The pain is then likely to become chronic further reducing the quality and quantity of sleep.
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night as advised by the Sleep Foundation. Click here for their website to explore strategies to improve sleep.
Seek early intervention
In almost all injuries and diseases, early intervention yields better outcomes. Delaying assessment can lead to long term complications. If you’re suffering with musculoskeletal pain book a physiotherapy initial consultation to find out how we can help you.