When you’re an athlete, a sports injury means taking a break from your beloved activity. But by listening to your body and giving it the time it needs to recover, you’ll be back in the game in no time. Below are some must-know tips on how to best heal from a sports injury.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
You know what they say: “You are what you eat.” And when it comes to injury recovery, you should fuel your body with the best foods. Protein is excellent for your muscle tissue; by consuming it, you can lessen the risk of losing the muscle tissue you built up while you’re recovering.
Eating plenty of fruits, veggies, and omega-3s is also essential. By maintaining the healthy diet you followed before your injury, you can keep your body properly nourished. A healthy body is more likely to make your recovery easier.
Visit a Doctor
Whether your injury seems like a sprain, a torn ligament, or another type of injury, it’s always best to visit your general practitioner or get a referral to a sports medicine clinic. Often, a doctor specializing in sports medicine can help you throughout your recovery and develop a safe training program.
As you wait to visit the doctor, remember to rest, ice, compress, and elevate the injured area. This can reduce swelling. Once you go to the doctor, you’ll get a complete diagnosis to better understand your injury.
Follow Your Healing Plan
Resuming physical activity as soon as you start feeling better may be tempting, but doing this could make things worse, since your body likely needs more time to repair. Contact your doctor if you experience pain throughout the healing process, as you may need additional treatment.
Depending on the type and degree of your injury, you may also need to attend physical therapy sessions to fully prepare your body for sports. After several weeks of little activity, your muscles will need some stretching and other gentle exercises to get back in shape.
Another vital tip on how to best heal from a sports injury is to keep a healthy mindset. Many athletes experience some mental distress when they sustain injuries, and mental health becomes as important as physical health during recovery. Talk to your doctor about your concerns so that you can create realistic goals for getting back on the field. For example, if you run track, your mile time likely won’t be what it was before the injury—and that’s okay. Gradually pace yourself to rebuild your stamina at a safe rate, and listen to your body. If anything hurts or if you don’t feel right, then it’s time for another break.
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